MOSCOW: Another package of weird ideas aimed at changing the entire nature of football and widening the gap between the professional one per cent and grassroots 99pc has been thrown up by a committees charged with keeping the law-making International Board on its toes writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
One of the stand-out proposals from what is described as a ‘strategy document’ entitled Play Fair! suggests adopting two halves of 30 minutes with the clock stopped when the ball goes out of play.
Apparently, the committee thinks that the most successful game in the world needs to be made ‘more attractive’.
This comes hard on the heels of a proposal from former Holland striker Marco Basten, now a FIFA technical director, that offside be scrapped.
IFAB has said the Fair Play! document has three aims – to improve player behaviour and increase respect, to increase playing time and to increase fairness and attractiveness.
It adds: “Many people are very frustrated that a typical 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of effective (actual) playing time (EPT) i.e. when the ball is in play.#
“The strategy proposes measures to reduce time-wasting and ‘speed up’ the game.”
IFAB said some of the proposals could be implemented immediately and require no law changes, while some are “ready for testing/experiments” and some are “for discussion”.
Among the ideas up for discussion is that of a player being allowed to pass to themselves at a free-kick, corner and goal-kick, a stadium clock which stops and starts along with the referee’s watch, and allowing a goal-kick to be taken even if the ball is moving.
The document does not explain who will finance the provision and use of the clock for amateur, grassroots and youth games.
Other ideas up “for discussion” include referees only blowing for half-time or full-time when the ball goes out of play, and a penalty kick being either scored or missed/saved, with players not allowed to follow up to score, in order to stop encroachment into the penalty area.
Plans which need no law changes mostly apply to IFAB’s bid to combat time-wasting.
The document says match officials should be stricter on the rule which allows goalkeepers to hold the ball for six seconds.
IFAB suggests match officials should be stricter on time-keeping, stopping their watch from a penalty being awarded to the spot-kick being taken, from a goal being scored until the match resumes from the kick-off, and from the signal of a substitution to play restarting.
The proposals already being tested include the idea of only allowing captains to speak to referees to prevent match officials being mobbed. This is being trialled at the Confederations Cup in Russia, which started on Saturday.
Another proposal already being tested is a change to the order of penalty kicks in shoot-outs, known as ABBA.
Instead of teams taking alternate penalties, the new system involves team A taking the first kick, then team B taking two, then team A taking two.