Devon Dick | Give football a kick in the shins
Recently, I was part of the then record crowd of 81,978 persons in attendance to watch an English Premier League football match at Wembley Stadium being played in almost-freezing weather conditions. The game between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United ended 2-0 in favour of the home side, Spurs. It was a joy to be seated in the Spurs section to experience the excitement of supporting the winning team. However, there are some things that could make football more exciting.
The Spurs fans booed Alexis Sanchez every time he touched the football. Why? In January, Sanchez was transferred from another Premier League club, Arsenal. It could be that the fans were reacting to the perceived lack of loyalty by some footballers.
It should be prohibited for footballers to be transferred in January, in the middle of the season, to play for another club in the same league. This seems disloyal, and the footballer could feed tactics from his former club to staff on the new team. However, if the footballer wants a transfer, it should be to another league or another country. Then there would be less grounds for booing.
Having more than two goals in the match between Spurs and Manchester United would have been exciting, and such excitement can be achieved by changing some rules. The first rule to go would be the offside rule. It is unnecessary and an unwanted rule for strikers. This would allow for more goals to be scored.
There are a few more rule changes that would make football more exciting. When a team commits a foul, it is at an advantage. Unlike netball, where the one committing the foul has to stand beside the opponent and has no part in the play, in football, it is not so. Therefore, the team that was fouled has a maximum of ten players to aim at, while the team committing the foul has a maximum eleven players to engage in defending.
Furthermore, the person who was fouled, if he does not get up quickly, could be asked to leave the field and the team fouled would then have nine players to aim at. It should be the other way around, that the person committing the foul should leave the field for a minute. Furthermore, three ordinary fouls by a team should be equivalent to a yellow card, and two yellow cards should trigger a penalty. More penalties mean more possible goals.
My wife was present at the match and she is not knowledgeable about football, but her one comment was, why was Manchester United so defensive? Some expert commentators wondered why Jose Mourinho, the coach of Manchester United, is not allowing Paul Pogba to play a more attacking midfield role. 'Parking the bus' in defence will dampen the game.
When a team kicks out the ball, the opposing team doing the throw-in is at a disadvantage, having a maximum of 10 persons to aim at, while the team causing the offence has a maximum of 11 players to defend. The rules are designed to protect teams that are defensive-minded. Every deliberate kickout of the football should be a corner, and the offender, even the goalkeeper, should leave the field for a minute. What excitement!
Additionally, every red card no matter where on the field, should lead to a penalty. Again, potentially more goals and more excitement.
Administrators of football should revolutionise the sport in the same way officials have done to cricket or tennis, where each team or player would have the maximum of two incorrect referrals, either by coach or the captain, to question a decision and refer for video evidence.
Hopefully, we will hear that when FIFA met in Jamaica last January, the JFF had made some suggestions to make football more exciting.
- The Rev Dr Devon Dick is a Baptist pastor and author. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.