Can it still be called football?
That is the question that arises after learning some of the radical proposals that the International Football Association Board (IFAB) is contemplating to eliminate the negative aspects that they believe are affecting football.
The body responsible for establishing the rules of football is analyzing a number of ideas that are set out in a document entitled “Fair Play!”, based around three principles:
- Improving player behavior and increasing respect
- Increasing effective playing time
- Increasing justice and attractiveness
One of the ideas being discussed is a penalty goal, which if it existed in 2010 would have meant Ghana’s qualification to the semi-finals of the World Cup in South Africa and the elimination of Uruguay.
The referee Olegário Benquerença sanctioned the action signaling the penalty and expelling the guilty Uruguayan, but Ghana could not avoid being eliminated.
The proposal stipulates to give as goal an action in which a field player voluntarily stops the ball with the hand to stop the ball from crossing the goal line, as Luis Suárez did in the 120th minute of the game in South Africa.
On that occasion, the referee expelled Suárez and gave a penalty, but Asamoah Gyan missed his shot. The Celeste qualified to the semis. History would look different if the goal would have been conceded to Ghana.
The IFAB will analyze these proposals during its next general assembly in March 2018.
With immediate effect
Many of the ideas that will be discussed could be implemented immediately without the need for a change in the rules, particularly those that seek to nullify time-wasting during matches.
For this, the referees are urged to be more strict in the application of the regulation, as in the rule that stipulates that the goalkeeper can only hold the ball for six seconds, something that is not effective in the games.
One of the proposals urge referees to be more stringent during matches to increase effective playing time.
In this sense, the document also proposes eliminating the traditional 45-minute halves and replacing them with periods of 30 minutes of effective play, in which the clock will stop each time the ball leaves the field or the game is halted.
This clock will be synchronized with the one located in the stadium to facilitate the experience of the spectator in the stands.
The technical director of the IFAB, an English ex-referee by the name of David Elleray, said, “Everyone agrees to improve player behavior and respect for all participants in a match, especially for officials.”
Elleray added, “It can be said that this is a silent revolution designed to make football even better.”
In favor of the show
The implementation of the video-assistant referee (VAR), as it is known by its acronym in English, has generated many antagonistic opinions in the first few matches of its application in the Confederations Cup.
But even those who criticize its use for going against the “essence of the game” admit that on the three occasions that the use of VAR was required, the right decision was made.
Its defenders say that it is a matter of improving the communication details, like it has happened in other sports, and fans will get accustomed.
It is what could happen with the other proposals that appear in the document, such as that a footballer could pass himself the ball in a corner shot or a foul. This seeks to improve the game and make it more attractive to the eyes of the spectators.
Other measures include:
- Allowing free-kicks with the ball in motion.
- Teams will be sanctioned with a penalty kick if the ball is passed to the goalkeeper (“backpass”), and not as before with an indirect free kick.
- The first half of the game, or the ending of the game itself can only be decreed once the ball leaves the limits of the field.
- A penalty is scored or missed. In case the goalkeeper has stopped the shot or the ball has hit a post, the rebound cannot be used to score a goal.
- A clearer and more consistent definition of what a “hand” is.
After the ideas are studied, some of them will be chosen and implemented in an experimental phase before they are finally approved or discarded.