Penalties in Football (Soccer)

In football, what's the distance in meters from the penalty spot to the goal line?

And the answer: about 11 meters.  

In football, if you handle the ball or commit a physical foul within the penalty area, the other team will most likely receive a penalty kick, which is taken from the penalty spot. That penalty spot is directly in front of the goal line, about 11 meters away.

Photo credit: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images. 

Penalties play an integral (yet relatively new) role in deciding the outcome of football matches. The UEFA European Football Championship, less formally known as the European Championship or Euros, is one of the most competitive football competitions. The matches are played between every qualifying European nation, making it an intensely widespread and high-pressure competition, and one whose outcome has been greatly affected by the use penalties. In a football match, these free kicks occur in gameplay either if a foul has been committed in the penalty box or – to everyone's unease –  if the game is still tied after a 30-minute overtime. As such, penalties represent a unique opportunity for both teams to score (or save) points that will take them to victory.

The 1976 Euro final was the first to be decided by penalties in a landmark match. In a Czechoslovakia vs. Germany match up, Czechoslovakia won 5-3 with one of the most iconic penalties ever seen: "the Panenka" chip straight down the middle. Such a deceptive yet effective move epitomizes the strategy involved with penalty-taking, whether it be psychological, physical or both.

Many football players have criticized the use of penalties in football. Some argue that, more than anything, these game-deciding moments rely too heavily on luck rather than skill. Additionally, the gameplay has come under fire for creating dependence on individual duels between opposing players, which is arguably not in keeping with football as a team sport.

What do you think? Are penalties necessary, or unfair? Learn more about the unique strategy and rules involved in penalty-taking here, and watch the Panenka chip here.

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