Randy Paul on penalty kicks in the World Cup:
Before anyone starts to blame the fact that penalty kicks decided this championship, let's look at where the problem really lies and to do so, we have to look to the past, specifically 68 years ago to 1938 when the World Cup was played in France for the first time. If you look at the results, pay special attention to the quarter-finals. On June 12 Brazil played Czechoslovakia to a 1-1 tie after extra time. Two days later, the match was replayed in its entirety and Brazil won, 2-1.
So what's the difference between then and now? The influence of money from television. It would rile television networks to promote the event, only to have to run it again (on a Tuesday, no less) two days later. Money is at the root of this evil and I really don't know of a better way to resolve it. Play until players drop dead of exhaustion? Allow completely open substitutions and let them play for another two hours without a goal scored?
I can see why you wouldn't want to replay the match to resolve a tie. That would be anti-climactic.
Personally, I think that it's more honest to allow of the the possibility of ties. Two teams face off for a set amount of time, if neither gets the upper hand, that's life. Let the record show how the two teams actually played rather than the results of a feel-good gimmick.
If you're not prepared to live with the prospect of ties, then you've got to consider tie-breaker methods that produce an emotionally satisfying, decisive, but non-arbitrary outcomes. Penalty kicks in World Cup soccer are totally unsatisfying to watch. The idea that victory should hinge on a measure with so little variability is absurd.
At that level, most of the kicks are going to go into the net. I'd rather see the teams play until they drop in overtime. At least then the final outcome would be a function of stamina and will, rather than a glorified coin toss.
I don't see a nefarious financial agenda behind FIFA's use of penalty kicks to break ties in the World Cup. If it's all about advertising revenue, why not play into overtime? There are no ads during the periods, but there would be ads in between overtime periods. I bet FIFA could have made even more money off this game if sponsors had the option of buying ads between overtime periods.
I can see a financial argument for not having unlimited overtime during the regular season when the game might preempt a higher-value show. However, for the World Cup itself, I find it hard to believe it's a money-losing proposition to run ads in between overtime periods. The NHL acknowledged this fact in 2005 by allowing regular season games to end in shootouts, but keeping indefinite overtime in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Perhaps FIFA should consider a similar approach for the World Cup.