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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…

  1. Robert
    July 21, 2010 at 12:42 am

    Penalty kicks to settle matches would almost become obsolete if at the start of extra time each team lost a player. Imagine 10 tired players versus 10 tired for the extra time period. The play would have to open up, with much more chances being created, which should lead to more goals – hence a result. I know this will not guarantee a result after 120 minutes, but penatly kicks to settle matches will become very very rare. Also, an additonal positive is that tactical chages will become a lot more important (when to use the substitutes), and well as teams with players sent off being punished some more (imagine the disadvantage of 9 vs 10 during this period), which in my opinion an offending team deserves if they had a player sent off.
    YES to suspensions after the game for divers, and YES to goal line technology. Most Importantly, give the fourth referee on the sideline greater power, like beiang able to check his monitor on the sideline for offsides/hand ball etc, etc, but here is the point – ONLY WHEN both the referee and his assistant did not see the incident for themselves or their line of sight was obscured. So the referee will basically have to ask for help when he needs it, and not if he believes he saw the incident for himself. This would take care of 95 percent of the current problems with the game.

  2. Teacher Man
    July 18, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I know I’ll be crucified for this, but why not allow players to substitute on and off the pitch at reasonable times in which it doesn’t impede the game?
    Think of how many players faking injuries (and getting real ones) are done because it’s the only time they have to rest outside of halftime? If you think about it, you’re encouraging players to ignore injuries. It also slows the game down significantly when you have to put in 96 minutes with only a short rest at halftime.

  3. Jogo Bonito
    July 18, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Number 7: Tired players make more mistakes and results in more open play.
    6: No, that would result in the players being less scared to earn yellow cards, so more fouling.
    5: Not a bad idea.
    4: For sure, or just use refs from the top leagues. Refereeing was a disaster this year.
    3: Definitely, definitely

  4. Monctonian
    July 16, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Re number 7: From the time of the final whistle to completion of penalty shoot out a whole hour passes. A whole hour!!!

    In tournament play there are 12 other players that didn’t start the game. Allow for subs made and ignoring the third keeper, that leaves at least 8 other players not involved.

    Exact rules to be agreed such as a minimum number of changes from the starting 11 etc but why not a replay using these other players? It could be at least 8 completely fresh players plus up to three with only substitute time behind them.

    They could play 25 minutes each way; saving 10 minutes for pens if necessary, which should absolutely NOT take the age they do currently. Call it a mini replay, extended overtime or whatever. Football decides. No additional time necessary. A team’s strength in depth comes into play.


    • Tel
      July 20, 2010 at 12:46 am

      Eight fresh players, assuming no squad members are suspended or recovering from injury. Then the three substitutes… say one of them came on very early in the game as a replacement for an injured starter… does this not give his team a disadvantage… and therefore in turn possibly even encourage teams to try injuring opposing players early in the game?

      It’s a nice idea, for sure… but it’s certainly far from perfect, to the extent that I’d consider it highly impractical.

  5. Marius
    July 16, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Goal-line technology is a bogus proposal. Why would a goal/no-goal call be more important than a goal called off for an nonexistent off-side? Or a foul in the box that was never called where the player would have scored otherwise? Or a red card which could change the course of the game more than a goal at times? You can’t pick and choose just certain scenarios and not address others as important if not even more so.

    This sounds too much like an “American proposal” where everything has to be perfect. I’d argue some of the best and most talked about stories in football have some controversy at their core and technology would ruin this part the fans love so much.

    … and I live in the US and work in technology.

  6. Stop
    July 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Stop spamming this post all over the internet. It’s annoying. Let people find it on their own.

  7. Opiated
    July 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    excellent list. only rules I dont agree with are 5 and 6. For 5 it is a grey line as to what injuries are real and what are fake. You cant penalize a player for getting genuinely injured. For 6 I think a better rule change is to allow yellow card reviews post game. If the card is deemed to have been awarded unjustly as in Muller’s case then it should be rescinded. I would still keep the ‘2 yellows and you are banned next game’ rule.

  8. Cati
    July 16, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    how about no substitutes in the last 10 minutes of the game. The majority of these are made to slow the pace anyway.

  9. Cati
    July 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I say, take penalty kicks after 90 minutes. Hold on the result, after the extra 30 minutes are played and it still tied. It’s up to the team that lost the pks to attack and ensure the game is not decided on pks.

    • July 16, 2010 at 1:36 pm

      that would def make extra time more exciting, but the team who won in penalties would just park the bus

      • Football10
        July 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm

        Interesting suggestion. Never thought about that, but it would certainly make the last 30 minutes very competitive…

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