The Beautiful Game? Very possibly. But definitely not the perfect game.. I have held my tongue because I have not seen every game, as I have done in the past. I just don’t know if I can condone the actions of these “men” who play, coach, and arrange this huge con of a Tournament. Don’t get me wrong, I love soccer. I love the game I remember. The game on display is nowhere near what I remember. Of course I understand gamesmanship but what I don’t understand is the lack of sportsmanship. They are similar concepts and are often confused but for me they are very different. I remember learning to “flop” in Basketball and finding it incredulous. Was I to go down in order to gain possession of the basketball? and draw a foul?. At the very least, I was still being hit and hard, very hard. But alas, in my mind, I was cheating. The same was true when I did Triathlons and I would look back on the bike and there were 7 people drafting up an incline. It made me sick. Was I ever guilty there? No. I avoided it because I wanted to know how good I was.
In many sports you can improve your results but you can’t ever really improve your fitness. That was my desire. I wanted to know where or how I compared. By seeing the Flopping, Diving, and Simulation, that goes on on the Soccer pitch it offends that part of me. Or maybe, it is my time in Rugby or Hockey that is being challenged. Every dive in soccer is indicative of just microns or seconds of an eighty minute Rugby game where padding was at a minimum. If I could accept the pretense of Soccer as strictly theatre, then maybe, I could drop my expectations somewhat…but nay. Naively,I watch every game with fresh eyes and “hope” for the best. Maybe it offends my Scottish, or Canadian mentality, or my Protestant work ethic, or the fact that I used to referee Hockey and have seen far worse on a hockey “pitch”.
For those who don’t know 90 minutes of soccer is really hard. It is a punishing sport physically at the best of times where participants would welcome the rain that has fallen on many of these matches. It is a very hard game.
The way that the game is timed is I find is criminal. The fact that teams can slow down and delay throw ins or goal kicks is a bastardization of sportsmanship. But it continues, Every participant runs back after a missed goal attempt and the goalie saunters back to get a ball while another ball is being thrown to him…He takes some time to select between the two. 45 seconds pass. Time wasted. The referee tries to add that to the end of the game but what is lost is the “flow”. The very thing that is so beautiful in the game.
I don’t know if the rules of football would ever be changed but I do have some suggestions that would, in my mind speed up and increase the flow of the game. With your permission I would like to expound on those.
In Basketball they have a Rule called “Over and back”. In Soccer this would mean that the team in possession wouldn’t be allowed to cross centre “backwards” once the had crossed the centre line “in attack”. Hopefully this would mean for more attacking football.
Also, on a throw in or free Kick players would have to freeze upon the whistle blowing meaning the defensive team would be penalized time and space as well as possession. Why should the team that gets to offend then gets to defend? Again I might be naive?
The 3 substitution rule is antiquated, it is a legacy rule from the 1800’s when soccer was truly a game of endurance. Now they are fit. Especially in a tournament, It would allow for more subs and I would even let them change on the fly. That is an idea borrowed from hockey and it would be far more exciting…The tempo would increase and you wouldn’t have to watch them jogging off the field wasting time. They would run
I would reduce the number of players from 11 to 10 maybe 9. Again more room. The 11 man rule was based on old rules when people wore suits when they were playing…
As well as free kicks in most penalty situations, i would have a 5 minute penalty rule like the sin bin in Rugby or the penalty box were they would be relegated to the sidelines. It would reduce some calls for sure and it would be a great solution for diving as well.They would still “free Kick” but without all the histrionics. I would also get rid of the penalty spot. Free kicks would always be direct and from the spot of the offence but a wall could be set up consistent with most kicks outside the 18 yard box..But remember players can’t retreat to behind the offence.
In terms of the tournament itself, We watched the first round of group games and I would generally say they were “positive” games So I would add a second round robin where teams would be pressured to play positive football instead of the defensive contests we have seen. The four winners of that would be entered into the semi finals…
I would also get rid of the own goal…who thought of that? I understand that players put it into their own net but why wen it is a deflection from an obviously great shot. Soccer is a hard enough game to score in to deny when a shot just glances off someone. Weird.
I probably have more rules I would change but most of my ideas are around the cheating of the fans. Billions of dollars are spent on this game for tickets and players waste time…I mean C’mon…