UEFA set to experiment with new 'ABBA' penalty shootout system

UEFA is to test a new penalty shootout system at the men's and women's European Under-17 Championship tournaments which take place this month.

The new system, which is similar to a tennis tiebreak and has been referred to by some as "ABBA," is designed to reduce the potential advantage that the team taking a first penalty in a shootout currently may have.

Rather than the current process, which sees teams taking penalties automatically following each other in a sequence of pairs, the new system will see the side taking the first penalty alternate.

Team A will take the first spot kick, with Team B taking the first penalty for the second and third kicks, before Team A then takes the first kick for the fourth effort. The sequence then repeats itself for the final penalty and subsequent kicks that are required if the shootout goes into "sudden death."

The referee will toss a coin to decide which end of the pitch the shootout will take place, before they then toss again to dictate which team takes the first or second penalty.

A UEFA statement said that the trial has been sanctioned by football's lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), as part of its "play fair" initiative.

The statement added: "[The] IFAB says that the experiment follows growing evidence that the current penalty shootout system, as laid down in the Laws of the Game to determine the outcome of a match, gives an unfair advantage to the team taking the first penalty in each pair of spot kicks.

"The hypothesis is that the player taking the second kick in the pair is under greater mental pressure, because if the opposition's first penalty in the pair has been successful, a miss by the second penalty-taker in the pair could mean the immediate loss of a match for his team, especially from the fourth pair of penalties onwards -- i.e. the seventh and eighth spot kicks."