Today I watched a couple of World Cup matches. I saw Switzerland beat Spain 1-0, which was great. My first allegiance is with the US, but my adopted team is Switzerland (and I stated this before the big upset today; I have at least one witness =). I know they are big underdogs and really do not have a legitimate shot at advancing very far, but that won’t stop me from rooting for them.
The second match I watched was Uruguay soundly defeating South Africa 3-0. I watched that game with no rooting interest, content to just observe the strategy and play.
Seeing those two games reminded me of why I do not consider myself a soccer fan. There are many elements of the game I just do not appreciate. I compiled a short list of changes that would make the game more appealing to me.
Change the offsides rule
Offsides should not be relative to the defense, it should be relative to the field. By implementing a blue line (like hockey), offsides calls would be clearer and poorly placed defenders could be exploited more easily. The ball must cross the blue line in the offensive zone before members of the attacking team.
End the match at 90 minutes
I hate the subjectivity of extra time. If a match is to be extended due to time lost to injury then stop the clock while the injury is being dealt with.
Allow unlimited substitutions and re-entry
Once again soccer should borrow a rule from hockey. Teams should be allowed unlimited changes to maximize the energy levels of players on the field. This would cause a faster pace of play with a more aggressive nature. More running and less standing around.
Reduce the number of players on the field
The game is most exciting when the players are moving. Sadly traffic jams are frequent, which lead to slow play. Passes are moved through the crowd, frequently deflected and intercepted. Give the skill players room to operate, reduce the number of players on the field.
So those are my adjustments to the world’s most popular game. While each of those changes seems very good to me, there must be a reason they have not been implemented. If FIFA would like to hire me as a rules consultant I’m willing to work cheap.
By the way, I find the vuvuzelas really annoying. I don’t think they should be banned, however. If that’s how South Africans like to make noise at sporting events more power to them. Just keep the blasted horns away from baseball and football in North America.