3 rule changes that would better soccer

Victor Bernardez of Honduras attempts a free kick during their 2014 World Cup Group E soccer match...

Victor Bernardez of Honduras attempts a free kick during their 2014 World Cup Group E soccer match against Ecuador at the Baixada arena in Curitiba on June 20, 2014. (REUTERS/Henry Romero)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:31 PM ET

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- While virtually every call made by a soccer referee is open to debate, there is one indisputable fact in the game.

There are certain irritants in the game which, if corrected, would not only speed up the game but help sell it to the random fan.

While the hardcore soccer fan is used to those irritants because he or she watches soccer on a regular basis, it is events like the World Cup that sell soccer on a larger scale. A skeptical fan will have likes and dislikes reinforced by what he sees on the world’s biggest soccer stage.

North America is where the most non-believers in soccer seem to reside.

The ambivalent soccer fan is most likely already acquainted with those sports. When the fan decides to watch a soccer game he or she would be shocked to see a horde of soccer players surround a referee waving their arms as if they are preparing for takeoff.

In most other sports, that type of reaction would earn substantial discipline.

In soccer, it has become a part of the game.

It not only offends the occasional soccer fan but also many ardent followers of the Beautiful Game who don’t consider that part beautiful at all.

Repairs can be made and should be made for the betterment and growth of the game.

One has already been adopted at the World Cup.

The disappearing foam has helped referees mark where a free kick will be taken and where the defensive wall needs to be set up.

It used to be when the referee turned his back, a player would move the ball closer or the wall would move up.

It still takes far too long for a free kick to be taken. The referee attempts to move the wall back 10 metres and players refused to be moved back. Free kicks take as long as two minutes to be taken.

Solution: The referee counts off the 10 metres, warns the players to move back to the spot. If they don’t move back immediately, yellow card.

After all, a kick can’t be taken until the referee blows his whistle so there’s not need to stand in front of a ball. It would only take a couple of cards before teams got the message.

Nothing is more annoying than a throw-in that wastes a minute or more in the game. A ball goes out and a player begins the process of a throw-in. He has the ball in his hands for 20 seconds until a teammate comes over and takes over the throw-in. Another 20 seconds goes by before the ball is thrown in.

All that is valuable playing time wasted.

Teams in the lead love to use this tactic to waste time. And if there is one thing that drives all soccer fans crazy, it’s obvious time wasting.

Solution: If you touch the ball to throw it in, you throw it in. If you touch it and don’t throw it in, you lose possession of the throw-in.

How many referees does a game need?

The game should probably have two referees, one for each half of the field, but that won’t ever happen. What it doesn’t need are 22 players trying to influence one referee.

It has become an embarrassment. Every call is argued. Players who are 30 yards away from the call run faster than they have during the game so they can dispute a call that happened five feet from the referee.

Referees are often swamped by groups of players larger than a group of FIFA officials congregating when they get a whiff that money is being given out.

The most obnoxious act a player carries out in his role of pseudo-official is pantomiming the act of giving out a card in an effort to influence a referee’s decisions.

Solution: A player other than a captain who gets in the face of an official gets a yellow card. A player who comes from another part of the field to argue a card gets a yellow card. The moment a player mimics a referee giving a card to a player, he gets a yellow card instead.

Referees don’t have to explain their call to 22 players on the field. They shouldn’t be in a position of having to fight their way through a ring of petulant, out of control players to do their job.

The being nice routine doesn’t work because players have no boundaries and many are beyond seeing reason.

Deal with those issues and soccer will attract the fans that are just on the periphery.

As a bonus, it will make the game more pleasurable for the long-suffering aficionado.


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