By Les Tan/Red Sports
I grew up watching and playing football. After I started this site in February 2007, I was exposed to other team games. I soon found watching basketball exciting because of the speed of the game. After that, catching a football game on television or worse, live at the stadium, was like watching paint dry.
Here are six ways to improve football as a spectator sport. After all, without the spectators, the sport or league withers. (Exhibit A: The S.League)
1. Introduce video technology
Last night, in front of a global audience of millions, Frank Lampard was denied a legitimate goal for England because the officials did not see it cross the line. It was not the fault of the referees. They cannot be everywhere and unless the assistant referee was a 3m tall giant, he probably could not see it from where he stood.
It is the fault of FIFA for not introducing such a basic technology into the game, especially when it has the millions from sponsorship and television rights fees.
One less first class ticket is not going to kill you, FIFA.
2. Take away the offside rule
The offside rule is daft. Football is about goals. What is the point of the offside rule apart from stopping goals? (Ask the USA how they feel about being denied a legitimate goal because of a wrong offside call in their game against Algeria.)
Also, the faster the game goes, the harder it is to see the offside. People who complain bitterly about assistant referees missing offsides do not realise how hard it is to see two things simultaneously — the player kicking the ball, and the player in an offside position.
Do you realise you are depending on peripheral vision for two actions sometimes happening 50m apart?
I dare you to get it right 100% of the time. Video technology would solve this problem … oh no, wait, FIFA does not allow it.
Mexicans will complain bitterly about Carlos Tevez’s offside goal but I say “Who cares?” We want goals, not offsides.
You never see a highlight reel called “The 10 best offsides at the World Cup”, do you?
Do you ever hear people gush: “Ooooh, what a beautiful offside! I’m so inspired. I want to try that offside right now in the field!”?
And if native speakers of English cannot explain it properly, who can?
3. No passing back over the centre line
After the wretched 1990 World Cup where the ball kept going back to the goalie so that teams in the lead could slow down the game, FIFA introduced the ‘no back pass’ rule. That saved the game.
They should introduce a similar rule to penalise a team for passing the ball back into their half after it has crossed the centre line. Every time the ball returns over the centre line, the excitement drops. (And that’s when I go looking for another bag of chips.)
4. Introduce a shot clock
A shot clock — a fixed period of time within which the team must attempt a shot on goal — would breathe more life into a game. How long the shot clock should be can always be worked out. Just take the most exciting football games on record, count how many shots were taken, and see how long it took for those shots to come. You will have your shot clock duration.
5. Allow unlimited substitutions
Why bring 23 people to a World Cup and then depend on 14 people to survive 90 minutes? Obviously, your starters are more talented, but with professional football asking players to show up for 50 to 60 games a year, bringing in the bench players to give your starters a break is just common sense.
And if you were the owner of the team, why do you want to pay for people to sit on the bench twiddling their thumbs? They should also risk life and limb to extend the longevity of their star players. Again, common sense.
Once the game is in the bag, bring off your Wayne Rooneys and your Lionel Messis and wrap them up in cotton wool. You can always throw them back on again if things get bad.
6. Introduce a second on-field referee
Expecting referees, who mostly are not below the age of 30, to keep up with the speed of the modern game at a World Cup or a high-level professional league is just asking for trouble. It’s like asking your uncle of 45 to run 10km 50 to 60 times a year and making split second decisions throughout each run.
Having a second referee will relieve the pressure and provide another set of eyes on the pitch. Again, it is just common sense, and in this case, a reasonable expense at the professional level.
It will also provide some comfort to beleagured referees. When one team wants to gouge a referee’s eye out for a wrong call, he can always yell: “It was HIS call! Not mine!”
Sepp Blatter performs U-turn over goalline technology
New York Times: FIFA president apologizes for referring errors
Guardian Online: Would Blatter be right to bin the offside rule?
Guardian Online: Cameras in nets can help FIFA see bigger picture
Times Online: Fifa may get into line with dropping offside
The Question: Why is the modern offside law a work of genius?
The 2010 football World Cup is ...
- poor because there are too few good games. (39%, 72 Votes)
- absorbing, fascinating, interesting. (24%, 44 Votes)
- like watching paint dry. Please wake me up when it's over. (22%, 41 Votes)
- losing me money! Er ..., I mean sleep! Losing me sleep! (16%, 29 Votes)
Total Voters: 185