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Football – The Games not broken – Let’s fix it!

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Cast your mind back to 2010, the unlikely duo of Dizzee Rascal and James Corden were top of the singles chart with “Shout” and the feverish grip of optimism and expectation was slowly engulfing the country.

The World Cup had just started in South Africa and the world was introduced to perhaps one of the most annoying sounds in the world. No not the girlfriend’s “nagging” voice, it was of course the vuvuzela! The low, dull, insufferable noise that sounded like a swarm of horny mosquitoes, ruined the World Cup for many.

Such was the threat to the beautiful game that FIFA banned the vuvuzela for future tournaments. But a much bigger change to the rules was on the horizon.

A year earlier, everyone’s favourite corrupt official, Sepp Blatter took time out of his busy cash filled envelope opening schedule to declare that FIFA had absolutely no plans to introduce goal-line technology.

He said: “I do not think, and the FIFA Congress are of the same view, that you can afford to stop the game”

“The International Football Association Board is of the opinion that football will remain, for the time being, a game for human beings with errors on the field of play. We will try to improve referees but you will never erase errors completely.”

However, a year later and a high profile gaff in the last 16 clash between England and Germany prompted a very fast re-think. England were 2-1 down when Frank Lampard hit a sweet shot that hit the crossbar and went so far over the line that it started telling Mum jokes!

This and other high profile examples led to FIFA finally bowing to public pressure and as of January 2016, there are 78 stadiums list on FIFA’s quality programme website that has licensed goal line technology.

I must admit, I, like many other football fans had reservations about this. But in my eyes it has been a total success. Some of the decisions it has correctly called, would have been impossible for the referee to decide in real time. With shots of up to 130 miles per hour, they have nanoseconds to judge. This has been a change for the good of the game.

So I was very intrigued to hear FIFA’s technical director and football god, Marco Van Basten outline his ideas of a radical shake-up to the game we love. He proposes;

  • Abolishing the offside law
  • No extra time, a match would go straight to penalties in a cup game
  • No more penalty kicks
  • Games to be in quarters rather than halves
  • Rugby style sin-bins
  • More substitutions.

I am not convinced by many of the proposals, Van Basten points towards hockey in which the off-side rule has been removed. However, not many of us Brits watch hockey so that is quite a moot point to make to be fair.

In regards to penalties, no, no, no and again NO! I’ve already checked this morning to see if they are already offering odds on Germany knocking us out of the 2018 World Cup on penalties! We are terrible at them and probably always will be.

I find the idea of introducing quarters as abhorrent, imagine the well-used football cliché, “It’s a game of two halves” being replaced with “It’s a game of four quarters”. I suspect this is driven by money and the ability to show more Ray Winstone adverts during the breaks.

To end on a positive note, I do like the idea of more substitutions. Especially allowing extra subs if a game goes into extra time. I also think the sin-bin idea is intriguing.

So what are your thoughts? Should we change for the sake of change? Or do we resist any changes tooth and nail? The good news is that any changes have to be ratified by Fifa’s executive committee so don’t expect to see any changes just yet. Now, where did I leave my vuvuzela?