15 June 2010

Lets End The World Cup Goal Drought

So after 13 games we have just 20 goals - a dreadful 1.53 goals per game. Even the awful Italian World Cup in 1990 managed 2.4 goals per game. I have just sat through the dire Portugal-Ivory Coast game which ended 0-0. At this rate the 1-1 draw between England and the USA will rate as one of the highest scoring games! How much longer will people tolerate watching this rubbish before they start switching off. I love football and I don't want to see that happen. But we all know what happens at the top level has a way of filtering down.

And of course this lack of goals stems from a bigger problem, we are having to wait up to 40 mins for the first shot on goal. We are getting fewer and fewer goalmouth incidents at the supposed highest level of the game.

When English league football moved to 3 points a win in the 1980s, the Italian league resisted and continued with the negative 2 points for a win football where a 0-0 draw away from home was deemed good enough. Only when crowds started staying away, was the Italian league and others forced to copy the English move. I imagine we might need to see crowds dwindling again for FIFA to move on this. In one way I understand their reluctance to change the rules and wholesale changes need to be resisted, but one change at a time could make big differences and perhaps we need to allow different leagues a little more leeway to experiment - the US league would be ideal for this.

We need some simple improvements to the game to reward attacking football if we want to expand the appeal of the game and hold on to current fans.

We don't necessarily need more goals, so I would resist any changes to the size of the goals. I agree with the suggestions of Gianluca Vialli.

One of the most important suggestions is a change to the offside rule.

I would also change the offside rule so that it only applies in the final third of the pitch. This would have an even greater effect on the game because it would stretch teams, forcing them to defend deeper and creating more space in the middle of the park. If the offside rule applies only in the final third, strikers can play further up the pitch, the space between defence and midfield increases, as does the space between midfield and attack. All of a sudden, congested and cluttered areas free up and the game becomes far more open.
I can think of three obvious reasons why this is desirable. First, it would favour the more skilful players because they would have more room to operate. Second, it would lead to more goals (or, at least, more attempts). Third, it would cut down on offsides and, particularly, controversial offside decisions.
The vast majority of mistakes on offside decisions are made when the distance is great between the player and the ball at the time of the pass. The reason for this is plain: the linesman would have to be looking in two different directions at once. But if offsides only applied in the final third, there would be fewer such situations because the space in which it could happen would be smaller so it would be far easier to call.

I also agree with his 30 minute halves, stopping the clock when play stops to get rid of time wasting, marking ten yards with paint to stop encroachment and introducing video technology to limit ref bias and error. FIFA don't like any of this - I am not convinced by their argument that it is unworkable.

One change at a time carefully implemented will soon be needed mark my words. People will not put up with watching tedium for ever.

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