A Penalty Kick is a method of restarting play in the game of football. It is awarded when a foul is committed by an opposing team member in the 18-yard box, also known as the penalty area. Also, if a match in the knockout stage has passed extra time and a winner is yet to emerge, A penalty shootout ensues.
A penalty involves giving a member of the fouled team a chance to take a direct kick at the goal from the penalty spot against the opposing team’s goalkeeper. The exceptionally highly competitive nature of the world cup explains why there might be a number of fouls committed.
Why Are Penalties In The World Cup Such A Big Deal?
A penalty can make or break a team in the World Cup. Due to the highly competitive nature of the tournament, virtually all participants bring their best to compete. In the World Cup, being awarded a penalty is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You don’t get multiple chances at it, unlike at the club level.
Scoring a penalty can turn a random player into a hero while missing one can lead to the player being seen as his country’s villain. In case of a penalty shootout, the pressure is quite worse as it’s easier to single out players who either ended the country’s time in the competition or progressed to the next stage.
How Penalties Affect Participant Countries
The Ghanaian National Team gave a performance of a lifetime at the 2010 World Cup, which was held in South Africa. In the quarterfinals, they played a difficult Uruguay team with aspirations of becoming the first African nation to reach the World Cup semifinals.
As extra time was about to conclude and a penalty shootout appeared likely, the score was tied at one. Luis Suarez handled the ball on the goal line in the 120th minute to prevent Ghana from scoring, which resulted in the African team being given a penalty and, as a result, the potential to win it in the 120th minute and create history.
So, he was sent out. Asamoah Gyan moved forward to attempt the penalty kick, but his attempt hit the wall. The match went to penalties, and Uruguay won as the Ghanaians, whose spirits were dampened, couldn’t get over Gyan’s miss. Luis Suarez was a hero for the Uruguay National team, while Asamoah Gyan was seen as a villain.
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Why More Penalties To Be Awarded In The 2022 World Cup?
More penalties are anticipated at the 2022 World Cup, thanks to VAR (video assistant referee). VAR was implemented to help on-pitch officials discover fouls committed inside the box that might have gone unnoticed. The on-pitch referee receives advice from the video-assisted referee, who monitors the game on multiple screens and has access to slow-motion replays. In the past, penalty kicks were not granted because the referee failed to notice them.
The review procedure VAR introduces will ensure those are found and punished. This is the fourth year since VAR was introduced, and it has only improved. The first year of VAR was the 2018 FIFA World cup, and the record for the most penalties awarded in a world cup was broken with 29 penalties awarded in the 2018 World Cup. More Penalties are expected to be awarded in this world cup as the VAR has only improved since then.
Top Penalty Takers Heading Into The 2022 World Cup
The Manchester United and Portugal man has a long history of scoring many penalties for both club and country. Ronaldo is the go-to player, and for a good cause, if his team earns a penalty at any point during a game. The captain of Portugal has converted 145 of his 174 attempts from the penalty spot for club and country. Ronaldo now has a remarkable conversion rate of 83%.
The Barcelona and Poland man is a prolific striker with 556 goals in 760 appearances for club and country. The Polish striker has a killer instinct in front of the goal, and it’s the same story when he steps to the penalty spot. Lewandowski has converted 71 of his 78 attempts from the spot. He has an amazing 91% conversion rate.
Harry Kane consistently converts penalties for England and Tottenham Hotspur. Kane has converted 56 of the 66 penalties he has taken for club and country throughout his career, for an 84.8% overall conversion rate. He’s the second England player to score 50 goals.
The World Cup had already seen its record for the most penalties awarded by a considerable margin in 2018 when the VAR was just introduced. Now with the VAR in its fourth year of existence, the scrutiny of the assessment of fouls is about to become more intense, and it’d consequently see more penalties awarded.