Over the 140+ year history of professional soccer, the rules set in the 1800s have mostly evolved and changed over time. But through it all, the basic structure of the game remains similar. Now, a bunch of radical new rules are being tested to determine how it would impact the game and according to NOS, FIFA has chosen the Netherlands as its guinea pig for these new rules.
A total of five new rules are being tested through the Dutch FA (KNVB). Some rules sound better in theory instead of in practice, VAR being a notable example from many fans, but these rules potentially change the complete look and strategy of the game if utilized.
The five rules that are being tested is a kick in from the sideline (as opposed to a throw in), self-passes on free kicks, time penalties (similar to rugby and can give refs an alternative to giving a card), unlimited substitutions, and “pure playing time” (which I assume means clock stoppages when the ball isn’t in play).
All of these rules have their pluses and minuses but on its surface, would change strategy. For instance, unlimited subs would not only make strategy more important but makes having depth much more important than starting talent. Keep in mind, there was a time where no subs could be made. Then you could have one, then two, and now three. So tweaking the subs rule isn’t unprecedented but this would be a massive change.
Kick in’s and self passes have a bit of a fútsal or indoor soccer feel which works there but may not translate on a much larger playing surface. Also, I have to imagine kick in’s would eat up more time because any kick in from the attacking half is a scoring opportunity and time needs to be taken for everyone to setup, unless it’s ruled that a player cannot take a running start to make the kick.
Time penalties seem to be the biggest wild card as to what kind of impact it’ll have on the game. It sounds like a viable solution instead of giving a red card and affecting a team the rest of the game but you’re kind of changing the entire concept of refereeing and give them another option to use their interpretation. That’s already been a problem, do we really need more gray areas?
The one rule that I’m totally convinced right off the bat isn’t going to happen is “pure playing time.” Not much was revealed about this rule but it sounds like a rule that’ll stop the clock during stoppages of play so that eliminates the concept of time wasting and 90 minutes actually means 90 minutes of play. I firmly agree with this rule on principle because time wasting sucks but I’m also aware that networks would never let this see the light of day. Right now, soccer games fit nicely in a two hour TV window. That gives networks the ability to easily program their day. By stopping the clock, soccer will be like every other sport with no discernible idea a game will end. And given networks pay billions worldwide and essentially have lots of control on what goes on, this seems like a hill they’ll die on.
These rules will be tested in Dutch youth soccer and if all goes well, will move up the amateur ranks and then the Cup tournaments, eventually to the pros. So this may take a while before we start seeing these rules pop up on TV but they are surely in the works.