Some in the soccer world believe their sport needs to make some massive changes. While still being the world’s most popular sport, others are beginning to close the gap.
Dutch legend Marco van Basten, FIFA’s technical director, has proposed sweeping changes to the sport. Some of those proposed changes include restricting players to 60 games a year, replacing penalty shootouts with eight-second run-ups, introducing orange cards, and sending players to penalty boxes for 10 minutes.
Some of his changes are based in common sense, and some of them are going to make soccer traditionalists absolutely lose their minds.
Let’s look at each of these proposed changes one by one and see if any of these could potentially catch on.
Out of all of these, this seems like one of the most logical choices. The top players are playing a lot for club and country, and they are coming down with injuries because of that increased playing time.
Here is what van Basten had to say about this proposed change:
“That’s bad for the quality of the game. Even in June when the big tournaments are played players cannot perform to their maximum because now if players are really successful they can play up to 75 official games in the year. I think that’s a bit too much and maybe they should stop at 55 or 60.”
Preserving the game and it’s players should be a top priority. That is how you keep the sport as a money maker. But who would determine which matches a player plays in – his national team coach, or his club team coach?
While an eight-second run-up may seem radical, van Basten is talking about no extra-time at all. After 90 minutes, he is thinking that they should go straight to the new shootout. “I think everybody is pretty tired after 120 minutes,” said van Basten.
Here is where the idea is coming from and how he believes it will work:
“Maybe the player should start 25 meters from goal and then you can dribble the goalkeeper or shoot early,” he said. “But you have to make a goal within eight seconds. It’s more skill and less luck. It’s maybe a bit more spectacular. It’s more football but it’s still nervous for the player.”
Rather than dismissing a player for a second yellow card, what if they went to a penalty box type area. It’s an idea that has helped hockey immensely and has helped with scoring as well. Can you even imagine soccer with a prolonged power play? It would be beautiful chaos.
Such an instance could be when a player commits repeat fouls that didn’t warrant yellow cards or obstruct opponents. Five misdemeanors could earn a player a place in a sin bin for 10 minutes, Van Basten said.
The rationale makes sense and it adds another dynamic to the game. It also adds another way for coaches to strategize and use their best players in advantageous scenarios.
This seems to be the topic du jour in a variety of sports. Anything that is restricting offense and high octane play is up for consideration. While in hockey they are limiting themselves due to tradition, if soccer were to move forward with such a move, it could end up opening up other sports as well.
Like the other proposals, van Basten’s ideas may seem radical at first but they make sense when you get down to it.
“I think it can be very interesting watching a game without offside. Football now is already looking a lot like handball with nine or ten defenders in front of the goal. It’s difficult for the opposition to score a goal as it’s very difficult to create something in the small pieces of space they give you.”
Why not utilize the space and speed that is in the game? Simple enough, right?
Much like American football and basketball, four quarters would be used to allow the athletes to recover. van Basten believes it could be used to make soccer that much better.
“We are trying to help the game, to let the game develop in a good way. We want to have a game which is honest, which is dynamic, a nice spectacle so we should try to do everything to help that process.”
I’m not entirely sure if that is what many get out of the four quarters format used in many sports, but his follow up comment was probably the most important point.
“The coach can have three times with his players during the game.”
For the more tactically sound coaches, this would be a major boon for them. If your team is in shambles and you can’t get them together, what better way than to reset yourself between quarters?
While van Basten is the technical director of FIFA, he has many obstacles to overcome for any of these changes to actually take place. He also wants to hear what the world has to say about the proposed changes. Given that many people don’t like change of any kind, don’t hold your breath on many of these even entering an experimental stage. It will take baby steps before anything happens on a global scale.