When FIFA announced the changes to the World Cup earlier this month, I thought that would be the most ridiculous thing to come from the games governing body this year. I was wrong.
FIFA’s Technical Director and legend of the game, former Ajax and AC Milan striker Marco Van Basten, has proposed some, frankly, bizarre changes to the beautiful game. Having scored 218 goals in 280 club appearanes, and having won the European Champions, Eredivisie, Serie A, European Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup, I thought he would know better. But, once again, I was wrong.
So buckle your seat-belts because this one really is a corker.
Abolish Offside Rule
The first of Van Basten’s genius ideas is to scrap the offside rule. Yes, you did read that right. No offside. No defensive line. This suggestion to me is completely unfathomable. In an interview with German newspaper Bild, he suggests that this change would stop games that “resemble handball where nine players, plus the goalkeeper, pack the penalty area… like a wall.”
What it would also do, Mr Van Basten, is change the game entirely. It would completely change the attacking and defending tactics. Imagine a scenario where the centre forward spend all game stood on the D of the penalty area, one of the defenders then has to drop back and man mark him all game, or the entire defensive line will drop so deep you’ll still end up with the wall on the penalty area.
The only time I’ve ever thought scrapping the offside rule was a good idea when was I was about 7, and discovered you could disable the rule on FIFA. Ridiculous.
Replacing Yellow Cards
His next bright idea involves replacing yellow cards with the sin bin. This one is not quite as absurd as getting rid of the offside rule, but it would change the whole dynamic of the game. He claims that a sin bin would frighten players more than a yellow, however, the whole points of a yellow card is to caution. A fact which seems to have gone over the Dutchman’s head.
With the frequency at which referee get decisions wrong, a 5 0r 10 minute “time penalty” would change the whole dynamic of every game, and is really too much of a change to implement.
Replacing Extra Time and Penalties
Extra Time and Penalties. Producers of some of the finest moments in football. Think the Champions League finals of Liverpool v AC Milan in Istanbul or Manchester United v Chelsea in Moscow. World Cup’s have been decided past 90 minutes, think of the brilliant 120 minutes and penalties from France v Brazil in Mexico 86. Although penalties might not be the fairest way to decide a football game, it doesn’t half produce some magical moments.
But, if Marco Van Basten has his way, they, along with offsides, will be in the bin. And what will they be replaced with, I hear you say? A penalty shootout… No, like the one already used in football. But like Ice Hockey.
Marco would like to get rid of the 30 minutes of extra time and the traditional penalty shootout with a just a penalty used similar to the system once used in the North American Soccer League and Hockey. Although this wouldn’t impact the game as much of the other two changes, I’m not a fan.
In Marco’s world each team would still have five initial attempts, however, the players starts 25 meters outs and must beat the goalkeeper within 8 seconds. He claims this change would be “spectacular” for the viewers as it mimics closely an in game situation. I just don’t see it myself.
Now, my German isn’t the best, and Google translate isn’t the most reliable, however, what I think Van Basten means by this is changing the last 10 minutes of a game to “effective time” such as in Rugby, where the clock stops when the ball is not in play.
He notes that, uh, problem, of time wasting, citing that “viewers wants to see, action, goals.” Call me old fashioned, but I enjoy a bit of time wasting, maybe not when my side is on the receiving end, but again, it’s part of the beauty of game and for me, this change is too much hassle for it would difference it would ultimately make. Next.
Again, maybe something is lost in translation on this one, but I gather that this would be rolling subs. However, this would just be implemented in Youth football, so, if you think it would better development, crack on. Next.
This is a change which has already been tested in the professional game, notably in the FIFA World Club Cup Final when Alvaro Morata made history by replacing Cristiano Ronaldo in Extra-Time and becoming the first ever fourth sub in the Pro Game.
Again, not the worst idea in the world, it would freshen legs after a long game, however, Van Basten did say it would be limited a twelve substations (I imagine six each) which would be a farce frankly. Stick with the fourth in extra time if you really have to make this change.
Finally, a legitimately good idea. Still, as Meat Loaf once said, one out of six ain’t bad… or something like that anyway. Marco talked about stopping “formation packs”, the mass gathering of players around the referee to complain. I’m looking at you Chelsea.
He suggests only allowing the captain to talk to the referee, like it Rugby. While this may cause some issues, especially with captain goalkeepers, it’s a step in the right direction. Get this one in as soon as lads.
And it was going so well. Finally, I thought you were going in the right direction, but no, utter rubbish again. Van Basten would want to emulate Basketball, and make it so that a defender can only commit a maximum of five fouls before he has to leave the pitch. Would it be a sin bin or a red card. I don’t know. What I do know is it’s complete rubbish.
I think I may have to remind you at this point that you’re not reading the rambling of Gary from the pub or Paul Merson from Soccer Saturday, but a man who has a legitimate role in FIFA. Carry on.
8 v 8 instead of 11 v 11
Put the pitch forks down! He does mean in Youth and Elderly football. Not Professional, so calm down. However, this is, mainly, a load of rubbish again. Football for children, I say Under 11’s down, is small fields, however, players have to step up to 11 vs 11 or they won’t be prepared for the professional game. I also don’t know how much over 45 football is strictly governed by FIFA. The only elderly football I’ve ever watched is the Masters Football that used to be on Sky, and that indoors and six-a-side anyway, so catch up Marco.
Less Games per year
When you search ‘Irony’ in the English Dictionary, I’m sure this will be the example. FIFA’s technical director, the technical director of the same body that not even two weeks ago expanded the World Cup to 48 teams from 32 teams is asking to reduce the number of a games a season. Take a minute to compose yourself because it gets better.
He also says “We do our best every day to generate even more money in football. But there is no money problem, it’s already a lot of money in football.”
Do I really need to add anything? The technical director, the man responsible for the direction of the game at FIFA, has claimed the sport needs less games, and that money is not a issue in football, despite the body he works for adding more games to the schedule to increase revenue. Brilliant. Just brilliant.
It seems that Van Basten’s main priority is to limit game time, to allows players more rest time to be at their very best, to the make the sport it’s best. However, some of the ideas mooted by the Dutchman are just crazy.
What would you do to improve football? Leave a comment to let us know.