If you’ve been watching penalty kicks, you would’ve noticed that players take penalties differently. While some play it low, others play it high. Moreover, players can place it to the right, left, or centre, depending on what they want.
However, there is a certain type of penalty placed into the centre of the goal, allowing the ball to enter the net slowly while the keeper dives to either side of the goal. This penalty style is called “Panenka,” and many players have adopted the style on several occasions.
In order to fully understand how panenka works, this guide will discuss how the penalty technique works and whether it is disrespectful to the opposition or not.
3 Ways the Panenka can be considered disrespectful
The term “Panenka” was born in the 1976 European Championship final between Czechoslovakia and West Germany. Czechoslovakia striker Antonin Panenka attempted a lob down the middle in the shootout. Instead of blasting his penalty as was the norm, he won them the game using a new technique. By chipping the ball down the middle of the goal while the goalkeeper dived to one side, he managed to outsmart him.
You can watch the first-ever Panenka in the video below;
While many footballers have taken to this method of penalties, people have considered the style disrespectful for different reasons.
Here are some of the reasons some stakeholders consider panenka to be disrespectful.
#1 The Panenka can make a fool of goalkeepers
The first reason people consider Panenka disrespectful is that it often makes a fool of goalkeepers. However, the skill is a double-edged sword as it can make the player or goalkeeper look foolish. When it comes off, the goalkeeper may look like they do not know what they are doing. On the flip side, when the Panenka fails, it does so spectacularly!
There have been several epic fails where players have been made to look foolish. For example, Sergio Aguero‘s effort for Manchester City against Chelsea in the Premier League in 2021. With his side 1-0 up, the Argentine striker attempted a Panenka down the middle.
Chelsea’s goalkeeper Edouard Mendy anticipated it and stood his ground to bounce the ball into the ground before catching it. Chelsea went on to win that match 2-1.
Here is how the incident happened:
Similarly, Ademola Lookman had a chance to score a 98th-minute equaliser for Fulham against West Ham in 2021 but chose to attempt a Panenka. Lukasz Fabianski read it and stayed in the middle to make an easy save.
#2 The Panenka may portray players as arrogant
Players who attempt the Panenka often do so, knowing it would be pretty easy to save their penalty if the goalkeeper stands still. As a result, they could sometimes be seen as carefree when the goalkeepers save their penalties.
The Panenka also bears an element of arrogance as it portrays the players as saying “I am better than you” to the goalkeeper. Getting a Panenka right is quite a difficult skill to master, and as a result, attempting it often paints players in an overconfident light.
Moreover, it can be argued that the Panenka may be a form of ‘unsporting’ behaviour, in light of this disrespectful nature. Showboating is another contentious play that can be deemed as unsporting, which you can find out more here.
#3 The Panenka has to do with luck
Penalties are often rightly referred to as a lottery which may go either way. It is essential to note that the Panenka is a complete lottery. When a player attempts a penalty kick with the Panenka, he does so, hoping that the goalkeeper does not choose to stand still.
The result is that the kicker relies heavily on the movement of the goalkeeper to score. On the other hand, other penalty styles do not dwell solely on luck. This is because a player may score a penalty if they shoot it as others do, even if the goalkeeper goes the right way.
One such example is Mbappe’s penalty in the World Cup final, where he managed to drill his shot past Martinez even when he dived the right way.
4 Ways the Panenka should not be considered as disrespectful
While many football fans and stakeholders consider the Panenka disrespectful, several others do not. Here are some of the reasons Panenka may not be disrespectful:
#1 It requires expertise and skill
Before attempting a Panenka penalty, a player must be skilled at controlling the trajectory of the ball to have it land perfectly in the net. This requires training and expertise, and only the best players in the world attempt it. Zinedine Zidane scored an impressive Panenka in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final for France, as did Eden Hazard in the 2019 League Cup final for Chelsea. Both men were masters of their craft and pulled off the Panenka because they had perfected the required skills.
Here is how Zidane scored a Panenka in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final;
#2 It provides a psychological edge
Having a teammate who attempts and scores a Panenka in a penalty shootout normally provides a psychological edge for a team. This is because the skill itself requires absolute confidence, and when it comes off, the confidence may rub off on the other players.
At the same time, when a player manages to score a Panenka, it often demoralises the opponents.
#3 It provides entertainment
Over time, we have come to realise that variation keeps humans satisfied. The routine in penalties is to have a player try to shoot past the goalkeeper. Breaking this norm by trying to outwit the goalkeeper without using force or power provides entertainment for the fans. In this regard, the Panenka is a breath of fresh air for fans due to the different approach to penalties.
Another argument is that football can be scripted, and you can find out why it’s not really the case here.
#4 It is employed as a means to win
The goal of every team in football is to win games in any form by which they appear. This includes winning games in regulation time or through penalty shootouts. On both occasions, the players always try to gain an advantage over their opponents, which is exactly what the Panenka is used for.
It cannot be considered disrespectful because players use it to give them an advantage over the goalkeepers. All the players want to do is score, and if they have identified the technique as the best one to go with, it cannot be considered disrespectful.
When a player stands 12 yards from the goal with the ball on the spot, the end game is to find a way to put the ball into the back of the net. The player’s mind does not wander towards disrespecting the goalkeeper or opposition. Rather, they intend to score the penalty and help their team.
As a result, any method or trickery the player uses to outwit the goalkeepers is allowed. When the Panenka comes off, the penalty taker receives applause, and little regard is given to the perceived disrespect.
Players do not bother about respect or disrespect during games; they only play to win!
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