Maybe watching over 30 games of football in the last three weeks has left us a little frazzled between the ears, but we worked under the assumption that there was a fixed order of penalty takers to keep to in a shootout scenario.
Apparently not so according to former-Premier League referee Graham Poll. Whilst we take the opinions of a multi-yellow card wielding official with a pinch of salt, it does indeed appear that Cristiano Ronaldo could have taken any penalty he liked in last Wednesday’s Euro 2012 semi-final against Spain.
”Nani could have stayed in the centre circle and allowed Bruno Alves to take the third kick that he walked up to take. And knowing that a miss would mean there’d be no fifth penalty, Ronaldo could have taken No 4. So long as each kick is taken by a different player, there is no issue.”
Perhaps rebelling against his manager’s orders is even beyond Ronaldo’s amateur-dramatic talent, but the rule book revelation does certainly show that Nani did not have to call back Bruno Alves – a decision that ripped up Portugal’s rhythm and set in to motion their downfall against the Spaniards.
Most intriguingly, the ruling indicates that a manager’s job isn’t done after the penalty shootout begins. The option to play a spot of penalty selection chess clearly exists, with the potential for a coach to move his spot-kick takers around to his advantage. The idiotic comparison of the shootout with a ‘lottery’ just got even weaker.
Alas many bright sparks may know the ruling already, but we are certainly marking it under the ‘Hmm… now that is interesting’ category.