Father of shoot-outs puts Swiss, English on spot
The man who first introduced the penalty shoot-out to soccer had harsh words this week for two recently ousted World Cup teams, saying Switzerland and England had failed to do his invention justice.
"They are complete losers, even a school team would have had better shots than the Swiss," said 90-year-old Karl Wald in an interview with Reuters television.
"It was a disappointment that something like that happened, even for me."
Wald, a former referee who conceived the penalty shoot-out in 1970, was referring to Switzerland's total breakdown against Ukraine in last week's World Cup second-round match.
Having played 120 scoreless minutes, the Swiss missed three straight penalty shots to hand Ukraine a 3-0 victory.
"They were not able to take one proper shot," the German said. "That was a true disappointment."
He was slightly easier on the English, who failed to make the semi-finals after missing three out of four penalties against Portugal.
"I don't understand that - were they nervous?" he asked.
The shoot-out, a tense face-off in which five players from each side shoot penalties to determine the winner of tied matches - has played an integral role in this World Cup.
Last week, Wald's countrymen, thanks to goalkeeper Jens Lehmann's two stops, played the penalties to perfection in defeating Argentina 5-3. They have not missed a penalty in a shoot-out since 1982.
Wald introduced the idea in Germany in 1970, and it was first used during the now-defunct Watney Cup that same year.
Prior to the adoption of the shoot-out format draws were usually broken by a coin toss or some other form of lucky draw.
One World Cup final in 1994 has been decided by a shoot-out with Brazil beating Italy.
"I am happy that we have penalties now, of course. Everyone is enthusiastic and no one is against it," said Wald. "The way it is now is exactly how I imagined."