Football in crisis

I remember when the worldcup meant thrilling games, suspense, a lot of scorings and great football action. These days are long gone now it seems. My analysis is this: The rules of the game have not kept pace with the ever improving athletic abilities of the players. The players’ physique is so strong now that they effectively destroy any creative play by the opponent’s offense department. Furthermore the efective room the teams have has become smaller and smaller for the same reason. Here is what I would do:

  • reduce the number of players per team by one or two
  • increase the distance between the goalposts
  • get rid of the rediculous offside rule

I think FIFA has become a bit too comfortable with their position as the world body for the world’s most popular game. But maybe that will change. The 2006 world cup was already disappointing regarding the entertaining value of many of the games. And in the South African world cup it is even worse I think. I have not seen any really great game so far,


“I think FIFA has become a bit too comfortable with their position as the world body for the world’s most popular game.”

You definitely got the point here.

I don’t think they are going to make so big changes in the rules as you proposed.

For the beginning, I think there’s one clear thing they should focus on.
Yesterday, Brazilian players suffered with the violence of some Ivory Coast players.

I have to agree that the rules need to change. I don’t watch much soccer/football. I only really watch during the World Cup but I have been disappointed with this World Cup just as I was with the last one. To compare, I also don’t watch rugby but watched the last rugby World Cup and couldn’t tear myself away from watching all the games.

I don’t know if it’s too physical since I can’t really compare it to what has gone on before. It sure seems like there is a lot of wrestling in the box during any free kick or corner kick. The worst thing about the game is that almost all chances are nullified by the ridiculous offside rule. I was actually thinking that perhaps the passion for soccer was a cultural thing because I don’t see much to get excited about.

Hey Mark, you make great points there. Finally someone who shares my view on the offside rule. I think it was invented when the players were much less athletic and they were afraid that one team would just park a striker in front of the other goal waiting for a pass from his teammates.

But let me ask you this: what about offside in hockey? Do you think they should keep that one?

I really came to like football in the last 10 years or so, NFL football that is, the last super bowls were just full of action. You never see that in soccer. FIFA is a very conservative organisation and very complacent because soccer is still so popular,


rohr4842: I don’t believe that football will become more attractive if FIFA gets rid of the offside. And why is it ridiculous? Without this rule you wouldn’t see such magnificent striker attacks like yesterday (Cesc and Villa) starting from behind the line of defenders. In my opinion we have too many teams at the Word Championship. Is it really necessary to include North Korea, Greece, Switzerland and Cote d’Ivoire…? All my respect for these countries but the football they play is not and has never been attractive nor successful (I now Greece is an exception). FIFA ought to reduce to maximum 12 teams and only the very best should take part.

I turned on my first World Cup soccer game, and after 10 minutes of listening to the buzzing of hornets, couldn’t turn it off fast enough.

A big part of the attraction of the World Cup for me, an admitted non soccer fan, is having so many countries involved. It makes it more interesting, especially if Canada were ever to be involved! :wink:

Part of my disappointment with soccer is that countries that seem obviously better than others in skill are unable to win because it is too difficult to score. I think the removal or the changing of the offside rule would be a good place to start to make it easier for the more offensive side to succeed. I don’t see the art in scoring by sneaking past the offside trap. Half the time it is only an official’s mistake that lets the goal be scored. Friedemann, in hockey, there is an offside “blue” line in the offensive zone that the puck must cross first. Once that line has been crossed by the puck, there is no restriction on going to the net. I much prefer this system and would love to see it in soccer. This prevents players from parking themselves at the far end when the puck is in the defensive zone but allows room for offense once the puck is in the offensive zone.

Sorry if I am offending the traditionalists! :slight_smile:

I like watching World Cup Football. I agree that there should be fewer teams. But I think most sports, except for the NFL , suffer from too many games. Blame the almighty advertising dollar for that, I think.

I don’t really understand why people like more scoring. The game is so cool to watch and there is a lot of skill and strategy involved in the dead ball plays (corners etc) as well as the fluid passing tactics of the skilled teams. I like it as is.

dooo: I agree with you. A football match doesn’t become necessarily better when there are many goals.
Mark: I don’t think it is possible to compare hockey with football. They are totally different games. Regarding your opinion about the offside “trap”, you can’t be sure to have a more offensive football match without it. In my opinion, without offside rule you would have an even more defensive play system. The defenders wouldn’t dare to move up until the middle line. There are other things which could be changed. For instance, I think that “loosing time” should be punished more severely, and blocking without ball too. Perhaps it would be good to have the possibility to change more than 3 players during a match.

@ Sirob - I’m not saying that I need to see more goals but I would like to see more offensive opportunities. I find it discouraging when a break that’s created is whistled back for being offside. It just feels like it is an unnecessary restriction on the game. However, you may be right that it would be more defensive in the end. I would just like to see the experiment…

I do agree that the blocking away from the ball does seem to be a little much.

I absolutely agree with Mark. A lot of the time teams with a good offense like Spain do not necessarily win, like in the game against Switzerland, because there are so few goals. The opposing site can score one lucky goal, maybe even through a penalty, and then defend for the rest of the game, and win. In hockey that wouldn’t happen. Look at the Brazil vs. North Korea game, 2 -1 only and that is between one of the best and one of the weakest teams.

Too many games are being decided basically by luck because there are so few scorings. I predict that in the knockout stage we will see a lot of games that will be decided on penalty shoot out after a 0-0 or 1-1 and extra time. Why do I like scorings? Because that is what adds drama to a game, that what can turn a game around. What are the greatest games in worldcup history? Italy and Germany’s 4-3 semi final thriller in 1970, or Spain and Germany’s 1982 epic 3-3 semi final clash.

Offside just eliminates space and the error rate of the referees is just too high so you have a lot of questionable decisions. And what is so bad about leaving one player in front of the other goal? It frees up space. Furthermore it is just a question of strategy and resource allocation. If you have one player waiting on the other side of the pitch, you have one player less defending your own goal, it’s every team’s strategic decision where to put their resources.



when kids or grown-ups play soccer as a hobby they do so 99% of the time without the offside rule and it works just fine. Why would the game be more defensive? I really don’t see that.

yeah I’ve always said that if fifa wanted to have any chance of making soccer popular in the US, it would have to do something with offsides. I know it can’t be changed because it would really affect scoring records and would change a game that is having no problems with popularity, but I too dislike the offsides rule.

I think a blue line type rule is interesting, because while I hate soccer offsides, if it were there we’d just have a lot of long ball cherry picking. I like rohr’s opening post, but if anything I would:

-bring the goals closer together

-I would give post game yellow cards to the “fakers” that fall and fake it (this would however make it so that Ronaldo only played in half his games :slight_smile: )

-I would change the strange and arbitrary “the referee gets to choose a random amount of stoppage time that never correlates with how much stoppage there actually was” rule. I like it that the clock can’t stop an attack as it’s in progress, but sometimes it’s ridiculous the time they add and don’t add…

-I would consolidate the European teams and make one great league where all the best players go like the NFL, NBA NHL ect rather than five okay leagues. Individual country leagues could act as 2nd and 3rd leagues for relegation (yeah it’ll never happen)

With all that said, I disagree that this has been a bad World Cup and soccer the way it is isn’t that broken… I’ve quite enjoyed the WC, and I mostly see the Europeans (not just here) crying about it. It’s not our faults that you guys can’t play that well on other continents… :0)

Yes I said it…

I have to say that my heart goes out the French players. Just because somebody pays them a lot of money (millions of Euros), and just because they are representing their country in the most important tournament in soccer, and just because they are supposed to be role models to young French kids, that all doesn’t mean they have to play or practice if they don’t want to, especially if their coach is not a nice guy. I mean give them a break.


I meant to say increase the size of the goal so to have more scorings. I don’t see any problems with having more long balls, again, it’s a question of resource allocation and where to best position the players.


it is amazing how politized this whole affair has become despite the fact that it is “only” a game. Mr Sarkozy has sent ministers to clean up the mess and there will be disciplinary measures because the reputation of the nation has been tarnished.



I am not amazed at the reaction. These players represent the country. Their behaviour is inexcusable.

rohr4842: in my childhood I played football with my friends and we where newer 22 players, nor did we apply the offside rule, free kicks, throw-ins, direct or indirect free kicks… In winter we always played hockey and we did apply the blue line rule neither. You can not take the way children plays as argue against the offside rule. You also mentioned the games in 1970 and 1982 because of the many goals the teams shot. Nevertheless, FIFA reduced the severity of the offside rule in 1990 and 2005 (passive offside) in order get a more attractive game with more goals. As you can see that did not happen.
Spain lost against Switzerland because the Swiss defenders made a good work, fought very hard, and were very very lucky. If Piquet had scored at the beginning of the match it would have been a totally other game.
blindside70: I am European, but I am not “crying”… I still hope Spain or Germany will win the WC.

I think the politicization of football is related to the current complaints about “strong” countries having trouble against “weak” ones . Why do some of the most needy countries manage to have teams that are even vaguely competitive, like North Korea? Because they know the PR value of having a team. So they are willing to pour what little resources they have into a team. That, coupled with improved sports science and coaching techniques. means that, given a group pf good athletes, time, and money… a decent team will be fielded. This means that nowadays, the gap between the skilled and less skilled is smaller. And the scores reflect that.

Where are the Brazilian LingQers to defend soccer???
Well, I’m the only woman here, but I need to take the task: I DO love soccer, the way it is now. Indeed, I think that part of the charm of it is exactly on this grain of luck (or lack of it) that can turn things upside down. By the way, this current WC has been plenty of surprises, which makes it quite thrilling for me. Have you seen that US goal that changed things almost in the last second today?? This is true emotion, guys!!! What’s the point of making points every 10 seconds, like in basketball, for example? In soccer, you need to work really hard to get there…
About the offside rule, I think it is responsible for the most beautiful scenes in soccer. The players need to really surpass the defenders, using their ability and velocity, instead of sticking there behind the defenders waiting for a ball to kick. In informal games this is not used simply because non-professionals lack the skills to do that…
In my opinion, the scores are going lower and lower mostly because of the weakest teams, which almost always adopt a coward defensive scheme, never trying to make goals, only trying to prevent them to happen. And the strongest the opposite team, the more cowardly those second class teams play. Why has North Korea taken only 2 goals from Brazil and 7 from Portugal? Because these teams are so terrified by Brazil that they don’t dare to even try to attack it. If something is to be changed, I thing it should be to punish more severely teams that do not score in a game. In other words, it should be much worse for a team to lose from 2x0 than from 5x3. Although the net difference is the same, in the last case they at least tried to do something. I guess this would force weaker teams out of their defensive fields, leaving space for the good players to really play their beautiful plays.
End of my indignant defense of soccer…
Seriously, I agree that there is a strong cultural element in this love for soccer. Brazil stops working in WC. I mean STOP. Schools and offices close earlier or stop working during Brazilian games. This does not happen in the Olympic games or in any other event. But World Cup provokes a huge collective delirium all around the country. At the same time, I can’t understand the American craziness about that odd thing they insist calling football. Or that other strange thing called baseball. Or the Canadian passion for hockey. None of this is about reasoning, it’s about the things you learn to love from early childhood.