Soccer may be foreign to everyone by 2026.
FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football, known in America as, the International Federation of Association Football, could potentially be seeing drastic rule changes. The rule changes have been proposed by Marco Van Basten, FIFA’s technical director.
Van Basten’s rule change suggestions include completely eliminating the offside rule, altering the way penalty kicks are performed, constraining players to 60 games per year, presenting an orange card, and breaking the game into four quarters.
Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and Van Basten has heard nothing apart from negative reactions regarding the rule change proposals. “These changes might gain brief popularity but would ultimately ruin the game for everyone involved,” said Kyle Pond, head men’s soccer coach.
The first rule change that Van Basten has brought to the table is the elimination of the offside rule. A player that is in his offensive half, closer to the goal line than all of the opposing team players except one, and receives the ball in this position, is whistled for being in an offside position.
“Aside from allowing players to use their hands, I believe this would be one of the single most ridiculous rule changes possible,” said Pond, “Teams would spread out over the entire field and soccer would look similar to the movement of lacrosse.”
Getting rid of the offside rule would allow players to “cherry pick”. They could receive the ball behind the defense with no repercussions.
Penalty kicks have not always been the way they are now, and Van Basten wants to go back to the old ways.
Van Basten said, “The player should start 25 meters from goal and then you can dribble the goalkeeper or shoot early, but you have to make a goal within eight seconds.” Van Basten argues that this style of penalty kick would call for more skill, than luck from both the shooter and the goalkeeper.
“PK’s used to be a hockey style dribble up, it was unsuccessful then, and wouldn’t work now,” said Parker O’Quinn, freshman goalie.
Today, a penalty kick is taken from a stationary position, 12 yards back from the goal line. The goalie must remain on the goal line until the ball is kicked. O’Quinn said, “Sports science shows it’s practically impossible to save a well struck PK, and the fans love the thrill of a keeper still being able to.”
O’Quinn is in favor of leaving penalties the way they are now as, “It allows keepers to be heroes and make the game more entertaining and thrilling.”
Van Bastens also proposed to limit payers to 60 games a year, this may be his best proposal.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the most recent Ballon D’or winner, made an appearance in 57 games last year. Lionel Messi, Barcelona forward, played in 59 games last season. It seems that the world’s best players are already playing in less than 60 matches a year, but they could potentially play in 75 games.
Pond said, “I would suggest that at least three of these changes are completely unnecessary and even gimmicky, with the exception being the 60 games per year rule.” Van Basten believes that limiting the players to 60 games a year would reduce injury and improve the quality of each game.
One way limiting the games per year could negatively affect soccer is if a player reaches the cap and has to sit out of a major league game or tournament in December, which is unlikely.
When a player receives a red card, he or she must sit out the rest of the game and their team can’t replace them, forcing the team to play the remainder of the match with a man down. A red card is also accompanied by some form of game suspension depending on the league. Most red card suspensions are one to three games.
A player may also be handed a yellow card by the referee for a foul that isn’t aggressive enough to deserve a red card. If a player gets two yellow cards in a single game, it equals one red card.
If an orange card is added to supplement the yellow and red card, it will be because of Van Bastens rule pitch. Van Basten suggest that adding an orange card would give the referee another option. If the referee is stuck between a rock and a hard place in determining rather to hand out a yellow or red, he or she can rely on the orange card.
The orange card would be allocated for fouls too harsh for a yellow card, and not aggressive enough for a red card. If a player is given an orange card, he or she must sit out 10 minutes without being replaced. After serving their 10 minutes, the player could return to the field.
Like the penalty shot, this rule follows closely to the two minute power play in hockey. If a player is serving a ten minute penalty due to an orange card it could completely change the game.
If multiple orange cards are shown in a single game, imagine the impact it would have, the entire strategy to the game would change.
Breaking the game into four quarters instead of two halves is the last proposal from Van Basten. As of now, each half is 45 minutes with no stoppage. It the temperature is dangerously hot, the players are given a water break halfway through each half to hydrate.
Jordan Garcia, SC men’s soccer alum, describes how changing to quarters will affect the speed of the game. “Some teams, like Barcelona, like to slow down the pace, pass it around and tire out the other team,” said Garcia, “The more stoppages there are, the more time for recovery. When you’re the team on attack, the stoppages make it harder to tire them out.”
Van Basten has projected these rule changes in hopes that the International Football Association Board will see positive feedback and make an official proposal.
With exception to the 60 games a year proposal, Van Basten has received nothing but negative feedback from the soccer fan base.
“Soccer is a worldwide sport, it doesn’t need to move its game toward a different style,” said O’Quinn. “People, including myself, love watching a team dominate the pitch. These rules take away from the game it is now, and would only prove to be unsuccessful.”
Garrett Chapman is a senior majoring in communication. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.