Thursday, October 20, 2011

20 October 1968 - Lots May Be Fair, But They're Not As Exciting

A 1-1 Olympic quarterfinal draw between Bulgaria and Israel on 20 October 1968 resulted in FIFA's adoption of penalty shootouts.

The two teams met at the Nou Camp in León, Mexico. It was apparently a heated affair, as the official FIFA report of the match indicates that referee Michel Kitabdjian issued six cautions in the first minute (three to each team).

Despite boasting a strong attack that racked up the group stage's best tally of 11 goals, Bulgaria took an early lead with a 5th-minute goal from an unlikely source, Slavia Sofia defender Georgi Hristakiev. For the next 84 minutes, Hristakiev played a more traditional role as Bulgaria managed to stifle Israel's own prolific offense--they had scored 8 goals in the group stage, including a hat-trick from Hapoel Tel Aviv striker Yehoshua Feigenbaum against Ghana in their opening match.

But Feigenbaum eventually cracked the Bulgarian defense, drawing Israel level in the 89th minute and the match ended at 1-1 after 90 minutes. In order to determine which team would advance, the rules at the time required the drawing of lots. Bulgaria won and progressed to the semifinals where they beat Mexico, 2-3. They then moved on to the final, losing to Hungary 4-1.

After watching his team lose via lots, Israeli Yosef Dagan proposed to resolve draws with the modern penalty shootout, which FIFA adopted in 1970.


  1. Interesting. Can I refer you to this:
    Which also mentions Kitabdjian and the introduction of penalty shoot-outs. He's got a lot to answer for.

  2. Great article, thanks. Unbelievable that he'd settle a critical coin flip behind closed doors like that (and after aborting the first flip). It's astounding that more people don't know about him and his antics.