Sudden death is used in an array of sports to determine the outcome of a match when the score is tied.
Soccer decided to embrace the concept in the mid-1990s, and FIFA sanctioned its use in the World Cup for the first time in France in 1998.
The hope was that the “golden goal” — the linguistically more positive term used in soccer — would promote attacking play and reduce the likelihood of a penalty shootout, which many in the game considered to be an unfair way of deciding matches.
The reality, many believe, more often than not proved to be the opposite. Faced with the prospect of instant elimination during the 30 minutes of extra time, teams grew cagey.
That was certainly the case in a round of 16 match in Lens between host France and Paraguay. The French, without the suspended Zinedine Zidane, struggled to break down the stubborn Paraguay defense and the prospect of a penalty shootout loomed.
But with only six minutes left in extra time, France defender Laurent Blanc shot past Paraguay goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert to secure victory. All of France breathed a sigh of relief that its national team had avoided an early exit from a tournament it would go on to win.
France’s experience with sudden death was positive. Two years later, Les Bleus won the European Championship with a “golden goal” from David Trezeguet.
After again using it in 2002 at the World Cup in South Korea and Japan, FIFA reverted back to the traditional 30-minute period of extra time in Germany in 2006, followed by penalties if the scores were level.
The evidence never truly supported the notion that the “golden goal” promoted attacking play.
AP World Cup coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup