Monday, July 11, 2016

7 Major Changes To Make Football Great Again

Football is boring.

Defenders' advantage is overwhelming. Matches are won by teams making the least mistakes, not most good plays. Fouls go unpunished. Fitness triumphs over finesse. Luck counts for a lot. Goals are scarce, yet often random and undeserving. And games with low scores are more susceptible to rigging (for instance, a keeper and defender only needs to make a single slip, and a misfiring striker without a shot on goal whole game is a common occurrence that can be excused for lack of form).

But football doesn't have to be boring. Just needs a major overhaul, and it's all set to be the greatest sport in the world once more!

1. Remove the offside rule

Why can't players stand wherever they want on the pitch and receive the ball regardless where their opponents are at? It makes no sense. Why should there be a prohibited zone between keeper and last defender? What an awful waste of space. Why does the rule even exist? No one really knows.

Well, the offside rule has existed ever since when the English 'created' the game, but has been loosened over the years (originally the rule banned an attacker from touching the ball unless there are three players ahead of him - THREE!). Safe to say, it's good to ditch any rule which favours slow lumbering English defenders and imitates rugby.

2. Replace penalties with sudden death extra-time

If the score is tied after 90 minutes, the game goes to extra-time, and if it is still tied, then penalties. And penalties, as you know, is like a Wild Wild West high noon shoot-out. Or poker. Or throwing a lump of mud on the wall hoping it'll stick. It's an insult to the silky skills of Baggio and Messi to reduce a game of dribbling, passing and shooting to a single kick.

So instead of penalties, just have a sudden-death extra-time that goes on and on until one side scores a goal. Oh, and every five minutes, each side has to take a player off the field. Call it the Hunger Game or Battle Royale rule. Call it with whatever name, and it will still be less dreadful than 'penalties'.

Not like this... not like this...

3. Abolish draws

While we're on the subject of 'ties', let's do away with 'draws' altogether for all matches. Right now, for group and league format, both sides score a point for the draw if the game is tied after 90 minutes. What the hell, right? How can a competitive game end in a draw (well, chess does, but chess isn't exactly the epitome of spectator sport)?

Surely there must be a winner and loser. Otherwise, weaker teams will play to avoid losing rather than to win, which leads to one-way traffic games and drab stalemates. And it's rather silly that a team can qualify for the next round of competition without even winning a game in three matches - as Portugal did in the recent 2016 Euro. No more draws, please. Let every game go to sudden death extra-time (see point 2 above).

4. Impose retrospective punishment

Fine, the use of video replays by referees on the spot may slow the game down. But there's no good reason why players can't be punished for offences discovered after the match through video replays, even if not caught by the referee.

Players will be more cautious, knowing that extra eyes are watching their every move and the spectre of suspension stretches far. That will cut down a lot of bad fouls, blatant dives and unsportsmanlike behaviour that the referee missed because he blinked at the wrong time or due to plain incompetence.

5. Send off fouling players temporarily

It's funny how FIFA worries about video replays slowing down the game with stoppages, yet allow players to make tactical fouls by blocking or tackling a rampaging attacker with a clear run at goal. Sometimes a yellow card is shown, but teams smartly game this by alternating players to commit such fouls.

Enough already. Punish such fouls more harshly. Players guilty of bad fouls should be sent off the pitch temporarily - say, for five minutes (it's called 'power play' in ice hockey). Impose this penalty on top of yellow cards. This will deter players from making repeated fouls to disrupt the flow of the game and goal-scoring chances.

6. Ban violent players as long as the injured player is out

Bad tackles are a serious problem in football. Aside from the personal pain of the victim, viewers are also deprived from watching top games with the top players. History will always record Germany as humiliating Brazil in front of their home crowd 7-1 at the 2014 World Cup, but people often forget that talismanic Neymar was out due to a horrific and senseless back-breaking kick by a Colombian player (whose name I will not even bother to google) in the match before.

The solution? Again, increase the punishment for violent fouls. Simply ban them from playing until the injured player returns to full recovery. If the player doesn't recover fully, then what? Too bad, you're banned for life then (as Roy Keane should have been for ending Alf-Inge Haland's career). As it is now, victims can languish in the treatment room for months whilst the offender go free after a few matches' suspension. Where's the justice in that? It's time for some tit for tat.

Don't try this on the field, kids!

7. Disallow headers (or headed goals)

Balls should be kept on the ground, not floating in the air. Too many players spend too much time jumping, climbing on each other's shoulders and banging their heads together. Sure, headers add an extra dimension to the game - but football is most joyous to watch when balls are being passed around from foot to foot, and a well-timed bicycle kick beats a glancing header to the Greatest Goals Highlight Reel anytime.

So ban headers completely (or at least, headed goals). It will make football more skill-based - just like futsal. No more hopeful long balls. Size will matter less, hence level the playing field between players of different natural builds. The game will be played more with the feet - just as its name suggest, and just as it should be.

Make Football Great Again

Isn't football viewership growing? Isn't TV and sponsorship revenue hitting seven digits? Isn't football in far better shape than it has ever been before? Yes, but that's because football has a strong cult following amongst the current generation (whose appetite, I believe, was whetted by far more exciting glorious exciting football in the past). 

But even if we accept that nothing much has changed from then to now and they are fine with the current boring state of football, what about the future generations? In an age where all-action computer games like Counter-Strike and League of Legends dominate the eyeballs of today's kids, there is a serious chance of tomorrow's sports fans preferring the sight of fantastical CGI characters blasting each other in exotic worlds than real players punting long balls over a field of green.

And above all, many of us love football because we ourselves enjoy playing football in our own neighbourhood.

The kind of football free of offside, cynical fouls, penalties (we'll simply play on until a team scores a winning goal, even if we have to play in the dark and risk incurring our Mom's wrath for being late for dinner) and long balls (everyone's trying to launch a heroic Maradona run or Beckham belter).

The kind of football that's fun and fair.

The kind of football that makes football great.

No comments :

Post a Comment