What football can learn from the tennis tiebreak

In 2012 Portugal lost to Spain after a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final of the European Cup. Did Portugal get a fair chance?

In 2012 Portugal lost to Spain after a penalty shoot-out in the semi-final of the European Cup. Did Portugal get a fair chance?


With the World Cup moving to the knockout stage in some days, a few teams are destined to be ‘knocked out’ because they lost a penalty series.

Statistical analysis based on historical shoot-outs has shown that the team taking the first penalty kick, thereby starting the series, historically won in ~60% of the times.

This statistic should not be underestimated – teams starting the penalty series have a ~50% bigger chance of winning!

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Please, Sven (Kramer)?!

Lance Armstrong’s exposure sprouted a renewed attention for doping in sports. Firstly, of course, within cycling, but recently the debate around performance-enhancing drugs intensified with regard to other sports as well.

For instance, Christophe Rochus stated that he believed that doping is significantly present within tennis, pointing a hesitant finger towards Rafael Nadal. Although this may be the opinion of one player, there are more disturbing signals. Roger Federer called for more doping tests in tennis, since “some substances can’t be discovered right now.” Andy Murray agrees, but adds “don’t accuse me or my rivals of doping.” (Where have we heard that before?) James Blake said something that, to me, sounds sensible: “[we should be] realistic with this much money involved, $1.9 million for the winner of the U.S. Open, people will try to find a way to get ahead.” Continue reading