The UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: two qualifying rounds and an eight-team final tournament.
The competition begins with one-venue four-team mini-tournaments. The top two in each group plus a certain number of third-placed teams with the best record against the leading pair in their group, depending on the number of entries, join possible top seeds given byes in the elite round.
The 28 teams are drawn into seven groups of four. The groups are played as one-venue mini-tournaments with the winners progressing to the finals to join the hosts.
The eight teams are split into two groups of four. The top two in each group go through to the knockout phase, beginning in the semi-finals.
Further details, including the criteria for separating teams that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a knockout match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
An experiment changing the order of penalty kicks taken by teams in penalty shoot-outs is to feature at the UEFA European Women's Under-17 finals in the Czech Republic, which kick off on Tuesday.
The trial has been sanctioned by football's lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), as part of its 'play fair' initiative, and UEFA has agreed to take part. The experiment is looking at whether the advantage for the team taking the first penalty in a pair of spot kicks in a shoot-out could be reduced.
In the trial, the penalties in a shoot-out will see the team taking the first penalty in a pair of spot kicks alternate, instead of the teams automatically following each other in a sequence of pairs after the first penalty has been taken.
The trial system will work as follows:
• 1st kick: Team A – 2nd kick: Team B
• 3rd kick: Team B – 4th kick: Team A
• 5th kick: Team A – 6th kick: Team B
• 7th kick: Team B – 8th kick: Team A
• 9th kick: Team A – 10th kick: Team B
In the case of equality
• 11th kick: Team B – 12th kick: Team A
If still equal
• 13th kick: Team A – 14th kick: Team B,
and so on …
The trial will also be undertaken at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals in Croatia, which start on Wednesday.
IFAB says that the experiment follows growing evidence that the current penalty shoot-out system, as laid down in the Laws of the Game to determine the outcome of a match, gives an unfair advantage to the team taking the first penalty in each pair of spot kicks.
The hypothesis is that the player taking the second kick in the pair is under greater mental pressure, because if the opposition's first penalty in the pair has been successful, a miss by the second penalty-taker in the pair could mean the immediate loss of a match for his team, especially from the fourth pair of penalties onwards – i.e. the 7th and 8th spot kicks.
In the penalty shoot-out, as is currently the case, the referee will first toss a coin to decide which end of the pitch the penalty kicks will be taken at. And, as now, he/she will then toss the coin again, and the team winning this toss will decide whether to take the first or second penalty.
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