ABBA penalty shoot-out case goes on and on as court reserves judgment

Two amateur football clubs whose penalty shoot-out ended up in court after the referee rearranged the order of the spot-kicks will have to wait another week to learn if they have to replay the contest.

The saga began when FC Lisse and Hoek’s Dutch Cup contest two weeks ago ended in a 2-2 draw. FC Lisse won the shoot-out 5-4, but the Dutch football association KNVB ordered an investigation because referee Marc Nagtegaal used a non-standard penalty order.

The first eight kicks were taken using the ABBA method, whereby after the first kick each team takes two penalties in succession, to prevent either gaining an advantage from going first. Studies have found that in a regular shoot-out the team that goes first wins 60% of the time.

The ABBA method has been trialled in some football competitions but the Dutch Cup employs the traditional ABAB system, where the kicks are taken alternately. The KNVB decided the match score should stand but ordered the penalties to be retaken on October 4. FC Lisse then applied for an injunction to uphold the outcome of the original shoot-out and confirm the club’s place in the next round.

Club chairman Leon Annokkee argued that the referee’s decision should be honoured. ‘It’s mainly about the fact that this is an executive decision and the KNVB has completely overruled the referee,’ he told NOS. ‘As far as I’m concerned the referee is still in charge on the pitch.’

The KNVB said it was disappointed that FC Lisse had gone to court, but it would abide by the court’s decision. ‘We think the game should always be decided on the pitch,’ said a spokesman.

The case was heard on Monday, but the judge decided to consider the decision and give a ruling by October 9.

The eventual winner of the contest will play Eredivisie side Heracles Almelo in the second round.

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