Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How I Would Make Soccer a Better Game

Whether Americans want to admit it or not, soccer is the most followed worldwide sport.  Americans however just can not seem to get interested in it though.  I believe that the rules of soccer have not kept up with the times, and need to be adjusted.  If you look at the sport of hockey, and specifically the NHL, you can see that they have made major changes to the rules over the last 20 years.  For American audiences to get interested in soccer, some rule changes need to take place.

Here's some of the rule changes that I would implement to make soccer a better game.

1.  Expand the roster to 22 players. 

Since there are 11 players on the field, I believe that every one of them should have a backup.  This will go hand in hand with rule change number 2.

2.  Allow unlimited substitutions at anytime, so that players can come in and out of the game.

In soccer, once a player is pulled out of the game, they can't re-enter the game.  Why is that?  When players are forced to stay out there without substitutions a few bad things will happen.  1. Players play beyond their limits, and risk getting hurt/exhausted.  2.  Players fake injuries to take a break.  3.  The game slows down. 

When allowing substitutes, coaches will be allowed to put in different players according to strategy.  If a team is behind, then the coach can pull a defenseman, and put in a more offensive type of player. 

Unlimited substitutions would also increase the amount of offense in a game.  A coach could put one player in for just 5 minutes and let him run crazy around the field trying to score. 

2B.  To clarify, players can substitute at any time like hockey.  A coach does not have to call a time out.  The player coming out of the game crosses the sideline into his bench will give a high five (or a slap) to the player that is substituting him.  They do this on the sideline so that there are not 12 men on the field.  The substituting player can then enter the game. 

But to clarify even further, players can substitute during a timeout. 

3.  Move the offsides line. 

One reason the old NASL (North American Soccer League) did so well in the early days was that they moved the offsides line.  This lead to more scoring, something that American audiences wanted.  However, FIFA came in and bullied the NASL to move the offsides lines back to where they are in the international game.  This then, lead to the decline of the NASL.

4.  Change the overtime rules.

A lot of soccer games go into overtime.  But since the players are usually so tired by the end of the game not much scoring happens in overtime.  I believe that when overtime occurs, two spots from each team will be pulled from the field making it 9 on 9, instead of the usual 11 on 11.  This will open up the field to allow more scoring. 

5.  Penalize the fakers.

If a player fakes an injury for the purpose of trying to get a yellow or red card called on an opponent, that player will serve a one game suspension.  And to make sure this rule is strictly enforced, after the game is played, the film will be reviewed to make sure no player faked an injury. 

This rule goes hand in hand with rule change number two.  A player won't have to fake an injury to take a rest.  He (or she) can come out and have a substitute come in and play.  When that player is rested up enough, they can go back in the game. 

6.  Red Card Ejections

I do believe that players given a red card should be ejected.  However, under my suggested rule changes, that player's team will not lose that spot on the field for the game.  To clarify, when a player gets a red card under the current rules, that team loses the player and the spot.  So that team has to play 10 on 11. 

I would do away with that.  Namely, a lot of teams throw cheap fouls so that other teams will retaliate against them and thus draw a red card.  Once that team is a player down, then the opposing team actually gets around to playing soccer. 

So to clarify, on a red card the team will lose the player, but not the spot on the field.

7.  The Enforcer

This is not a rule change per se, but a change in strategy.  A lot of times coaches will send in a player to take out the other team's star player.  Again, they throw a cheap shot so that the star player will retaliate and get thrown out of the game.  Under the new rule changes I've suggested players can have unlimited substitutions. 

If a coach sees that the other team is sending a player to hurt his star player, he can send in an "enforcer."  It's just like in hockey.  The enforcer goes in, and makes sure the star player is unharmed.  This will do away with a lot of the tickey-tack fouls.  If a guy is out causing trouble, the enforcer will make a "hard foul" and put the joker in his place. 


These rule changes are admittedly proposed to speed up the game, and take out the fake injuries.  I realize that a lot of Europeans would not like these rules due to the style of soccer they play.  However, if soccer is to ever take off in America, I really think that these changes need to take place. 

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