Ulsterman to blame for England’s Euro 2020 penalty woes

Ulsterman William McCrum has a lot to answer for.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 11:38 am
Updated Monday, 12th July 2021, 11:39 am
England's Marcus Rashford stands dejected after missing from the penalty spot during the UEFA Euro 2020 Final at Wembley. PA Photo

The goalkeeper and businessman is credited with having invented the penalty kick – the source of much woe for the English national football team.

The Three Lions experienced penalty heartache once again as they lost out to Italy in the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley stadium.

Back in 1890, William McCrum, a linen mogul from Milford in Co Armagh, came up with the idea of giving a shot at goal from 12 yards to penalise a team deemed to prevented a goalscoring chance.

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The Irish Football Association presented the idea to the International Football Association Board which was approved after much debate on June 2, 1891.

Following England’s defeat on Sunday night it would appear Mr McCrum’s Wikipedia page has been doctored to include the line “It is said William can be heard laughing when England get beat on penalties in major tournaments.”

The original proposal for the introduction of a penalty kick read: “If any player shall intentionally trip or hold an opposing player, or deliberately handle the ball within twelve yards from his own goal line, the referee shall, on appeal, award the opposing side a penalty kick, to be taken from any point 12 yards from the goal line, under the following conditions: All players, with the exception of the player taking the penalty kick and the goalkeeper, shall stand behind the ball and at least six yards from it; the ball shall be in play when the kick is taken. A goal may be scored from a penalty kick.”

The evolution of the penalty to provide a means to settle a match via a shoot out is credited to Israeli Yosef Dagan who came up with the idea after watching Israel lose a 1968 Olympic quarter final game against Bulgaria by drawing lots.