Chris Lakey: Time to kill off the penalty kick as we know it
Chris Lakey has got the hump again - this time the humble penalty kick has set his blood boiling ...
There are a number of areas in a game of football which need change - and surely the penalty kick is one of them.
Penalty kicks are in many cases the most outrageous punishment for an offence which is, nine times out of 10, committed in a situation which is by no means guaranteed to end with a shot on goal, let alone a free one.
An attacking player can be in possession, in the corner of the area, back to goal, with few team-mates in support, and be fouled. From a remote possibility of scoring, the attacking side is suddenly awarded a near guaranteed scoring opportunity.
Estimates suggest 75pc of penalties are converted, compared to just 11pc of regular shots.
The punishment doesn't always reflect the 'crime' and is a ludicrous way for a game to be influenced so easily.
How can a referee determine what is a scoring opportunity that is 75pc guaranteed to be successful? While there is a player between the attacker and the goal, it is impossible.
So it is time to make the penalty more fair to the defensive team.
Fewer penalties would be a start - the handball law is extremely flawed: ask PSG after the farcical award of a penalty against them for handball during the Champions League tie against Manchester United last season. Players' arms go all over the show during a game, yet when a ball accidentally strikes it, the decision is a free-kick.
Luis Suarez deliberately using his hand to deny Ghana a goal against Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals was a penalty. No doubt.
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The ball hitting the arm of a player who is unable to control said limb is accidental and not worthy of the penalty punishment.
So, sort that one out.
In the meantime, make the taking of a penalty a little more fair to the defending team. First off, make it a one-on-one: no other players involved at all - just the taker and the keeper. And no rebounds. Just like a penalty shootout. That means no encroaching - and when was the last time a penalty was taken when no one stuck their size nine in the area?
Now for the keeper: as Scotland found out to their cost in the Women's World Cup this week, referees are by no means standard when it comes to a keeper moving forward from their line. Fifa introduced a rule before the tournament that keepers must have at least one foot on the line when a penalty is struck. Very few keepers can do that. Like the player with flailing limbs, it is a natural reaction.
Lee Alexander was hardly off her line when she saved an Argentine spot-kick on Wednesday night, but VAR ruled she had, the penalty was retaken, and this time she didn't save it. Now watch a few penalties from last season and see how many were off the line, how many players encroached and how many times the ref just ignored it all.
Three penalties have been retaken at the Women's World Cup tournament thanks to VAR ruling keepers did not have at least part of one foot on the line. But the Premier League won't use it next season when VAR will be used in the top flight for the first time.
So not only is the law ridiculous, but there is no singing from the same hymn sheet: what is good for the Women's World Cup isn't good for the most lucrative league in the world.
Why not just allow keepers to move off their line as they do anyway - but not outside their six-yard box? There are two ways of doing this:
1: The referee's whistle becomes a starting gun for taker and keeper - as soon as the whistle blows, it's on.
2: Keepers can move forward, but only when the penalty kick is struck. Basically, those who break the rules can carry on doing what they are doing.
I prefer the latter. It would give the keeper half a chance and ensure that punishment and crime were a little closer. Or, as we say: fair.