Changes to the Beautiful Game
Every sport has their negatives & positives, their weak points & strong points, their Keanu Reeves & their Marlon Brando’s.
Obviously, soccer is not an exception. Many living on this planet, including myself, are feeling empty since the World Cup ended last Sunday. Moving forward, the competition exposed some flaws that minor tweaks could help fix. The tournament had its share of referee blunders, cheating, diving, & a host of fixable controversies that many feel tarnish the spirit of the competition & the sport itself.
In response, here is my list of changes to soccer & how these changes would improve the sport. Note: I didn’t include video replay which I think would help the game, but also believe it would slow the game down. Also, I do not think it will be implemented anytime soon.
1. Goal-line Technology – We have seen the Hawk-eye system flourish in tennis. They also have built a system for soccer which FIFA has ignored. (I know FIFA’s stance is that they want the soccer to be the same at all levels & in all nations, but this argument is a joke. I would not watch a lower level or youth match on TV, I would not buy the shirt or pay for a ticket; nor are the players making millions of whatever currency for which they are being paid.) So, soccer should adopt the Hawk-eye system, in all the top flight leagues in the world & for the World Cup’s. We can also make this a priority for each continent’s tournament (like the Euro’s or Copa America). Now, at first, we probably cannot use the Hawk-eye system for the World Cup qualifiers since some nations, for example, San Marino, may not have the capacity or finances to install the system. But in the future, the technology will become cheaper & every country can acquire this system.
2. Ref’s have to give a statement to the press after the game. – You may remember a second half goal ‘scored’ by Mo Edu in the USA v Slovenia group stage match. Well it was not awarded a goal because the ref from Mali awarded a free kick to Slovenia. For what infraction, you might ask? Unfortunately, we will never know the reason why since FIFA do not require the refs to explain their call, nor do they have a press conference after the match. In response, FIFA should make the refs give a statement after the match on what they saw on the crucial calls in the match. This will not be a Q&A style press conference, just an explanation from the officiating crew. So, what’s the purpose of this? The call won’t be changed, but maybe the ref did see something (& without the benefit of replay or slow-mo) he gave the decision the way he did. At least we will have an explanation & can understand that a ref has a different sight line than what we see on TV.
3. Players caught (or not caught) diving could be suspended after the game tape is reviewed. – This is the easiest fix to a problem that has hurt the sport’s image, especially in the USA. For example, if Cristiano Ronaldo dives in the box & the ref gives a penalty, the goal will stand. BUT, after reviewing the game tape, he could receive a suspension for his acts. Say it is in the World Cup? Then maybe a one match ban. In La Liga for Real Madrid? Maybe a three match ban. In the qualifiers? A two match ban.
In addition, if he gets punished during the match, like he gets a yellow card or the ref does not award a free kick, then maybe his suspension would be lighter. Also, if the defender were to get sent off because his counterpart dove, then his red card suspension could get wiped out. The referee who officiated the game could go back & do this, or a retired referee could handle all of these rulings.
4. Refs can ‘transfer’ to officiate in other country’s leagues. – Players from Asia, Africa & the Americas move over to Europe by the dozens to play football. So why can’t the best refs in the world transfer or move to a better league. Maybe Koman Coulibaly (he was the man behind the USA-Sloveniva blunder) is a top quality ref and he just needs experience week to week in one of the top leagues in the world. This will only help the standard of referring week to week at the club level & at the big tournaments.
5. If a player goes down injured & requires medical treatment, he will be held off of the pitch for as long as his injury stopped the game. – This rule may sound a bit confusing, but it would help deter players from stalling the game by lying around on the ground late in matches. Unfortunately, the ‘magic spray’ would then be used a lot less by the medical staff. And, he Fourth official would be in charge of enforcing this rule.
6. Get rid of the yellow card suspension rule at the World Cup – This is the most basic & easy change to make by FIFA. We want to see the best players on the pitch in the most important matches. So, why should we keep them off the pitch for a yellow card, which is sometimes a poor call from the ref in the first place. Thomas Muller was suspended for the Spain match after a bogus hand ball v Argentina in the previous round. He picked up TWO yellow cards in FIVE games. The rule does no good for the game.
7. In Extra time allow a fourth sub to come on. – Normally, extra time is slow & unexciting, with penalties always seeming imminent. Allowing an additional sub in the extra period may not liven up the game much, but one more fresh body could help open the game up a little bit. I know a game going to penalties is hated by many, but I do not have a better solution on how to end a match, without hurting the spirit of the game. Allowing a fourth substitute may be a small step tho.
Please post below any other changes that I may have forgotten or left out…