World football governing body, FIFA, are considering introducing penalty shoot-outs to the World Cup group stages at the 2026 tournament to be hosted in USA, Mexico and Canada, Daily Mail reports.
The Mail quoting The Athletic, the decision to implement shootouts – either before kick-off or at full-time – in tied group stage matches in 2026 is being discussed.
As a result there will be an extra knockout round following the groups, with the top two sides set to qualify from the 16 three-team groups – a system adopted following a unanimous FIFA vote.
Staging the shootouts after games does however give rise to potential collusion between the countries involved – something FIFA would understandably be eager to avoid.
A situation could arise in which a particular result benefits both sides in question, and thereby eliminating the third team in the group.
Since 1986 the final round of fixtures in each group has been played at the same time in order to prevent such a circumstance from arising.
So far in Qatar the group stage has seen nine draws – with five of them goalless – which has left several groups coming down to the wire in order to decide who progresses.
And FIFA’s chief officer for technical development Marco van Basten has long been a proponent for the introduction of shootouts to help decide tight groups.
“Shootouts could indeed be an option for tournaments with groups of three in which you play against two opponents,” he told German outlet Sport Bild.