Italy, the European champion who was decided by a coin toss
Incredibly, before there was no penalty shootout, and many matches were decided by a coin toss.
In the history of football, many tournaments have been decided by penalty shootouts. It is a way of breaking ties that made thousands of football players around the world nervous and that turned many goalkeepers into heroes. A clear example is the 1994 World Cup final, when Brazil, after drawing 0-0, beat Italy 3-2 on penalties. This tiebreaker method is not the fairest, but for now, it is the only method that exists in this sport. Despite the disadvantages of this alternative, it is much better than the method that was used before the creation of the penalty shootout, the coin toss.
Before the implementation of the new rule, ties between teams were defined by chance, by tossing a coin. At least on penalties players have a chance to decide their fate, but a coin toss results in 100% luck. But there was one exception, a final could not be decided by a coin. In the event of a tie in a final, a new match would be played 2 days later. But this only happened in a final, not in the semifinals or quarterfinals.
A very famous example of this case is what happened at UEFA Euro 1968. The teams that reached the semi-finals were the Soviet Union, Italy, Yugoslavia, and England. In the first key, Yugoslavia beat England and qualified for the final of the tournament. Instead, Italy and the USSR experienced an unusual match. The 'Azurri', which included Zoff, Facchetti, Anastasi, Domenghini, and Prati, faced the powerful Soviet Union on June 5 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples.
It was a very tense game, both teams didn't want to risk it and that's why they ended up tied at the end of 90 minutes. After playing an extension of 30 minutes, the result was still 0-0. Because of this, German referee Kurt Tschenscher made the difficult decision to decide the match by tossing a coin, in front of the eyes of 68,000 people in the stadium. At that moment, the team captains accompanied the referee to the changing rooms and there, the coin toss was made. Giacinto Facchetti, the Italian captain, was the one who returned to the field with tremendous happiness.
"The coin fell through a crack in the ground, the referee took it out and tossed it again. This time it came up flat and I immediately saw that it had come up heads, which I had chosen. I ran onto the grass, and as soon as my teammates saw my face, we all celebrated. The San Paolo went crazy," Facchetti said. It was the luck of the champion. 3 days later, in the final of the tournament, Italy faced Yugoslavia and, again, the match ended in a tie. On this occasion, the match ended 1-1. In the final, it was possible to play a second game, and therefore, it was decided to play the rematch 2 days later at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Finally, Italy beat its rival 2-0 with goals from Riva and Anastasi.
FIFA officially approved the tie-breaking method by shooting penalties on June 27, 1970, with the prior recommendation of the International Board. This organization was based on the tiebreaker methods of other leagues in the world, as happened in the 1952/1953 Yugoslavian Cup, the 1958-59 Italian Cup, and the Ramón de Carranza friendly tournament in its 1962 edition. The first international competition between nations defined by this method was UEFA Euro 1976, between Czechoslovakia and West Germany. Czechoslovakia won 5-3 after having tied the final at two goals.