As of June 1, football is going to incur its biggest set of rule changes the game has probably ever seen, set to take effect on the dawn of Euro 2016. We’ve taken the time to assess each one’s effectiveness and impact, positive or negative, on our game.
The current law says the ball must go forward at kickoff and players have to be in their own half. The rule is being changed to allow the ball to go in any direction at kickoff – as long as it moves.
Our view: We’re not sure what to make of this one – what are they trying at achieve by introducing the change? Have any of us ever watched a game and thought, “I wish teams didn’t have to play the ball forward at a kickoff”? Of course no one has. This rule literally makes no difference and the notion of changing something that isn’t broken or impacting play in way shape or form is ridiculous. For the record, the original reason the ball had to travel forward is that it needs to leave the area it has come from (your own half) – just the same as with goal kicks leaving the penalty area before another player touching it. As insignificant as it seems, the fact that the current rule makers felt the need to make the change makes us question their logic and that is what’s most concerning.
Pre-match Red Cards
The current laws were written at a time before it was custom for teams to line up next to each other in the tunnel before kickoff. The tunnel has been the scene for many rows, none more notable than between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira before Arsenal v Manchester in 2005. In future, referees will be able to punish red-card offenses any time after the pre-match inspection, which to us makes good sense.
Our view: Any red card offence (a punch for example) should see a player banned from taking part in the match regardless if play has kicked off – specifically because there is no need for that behavior and it should be sanctioned. It’s fair that both teams would still start with 11 players as they would essentially be amending their team sheet prior to kick off, but it comes at the cost of the use of a substitution. The thought of “using” a substitute to replace a player who never took the field doesn’t make a great deal of sense to us. Teams who have had players unable to take the field, for injury let’s say, after the team sheet has been submitted haven’t been penalized a sub, but ultimately we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it – we’re not anticipating it to be a frequent occurrence.
Fouls on a Clear Goal Scoring Opportunities
The current law meant that a player who denied a goal-scoring opportunity by means of a foul was automatically red-carded as well as giving away a penalty. However, the new law stipulates that players committing fouls that deny a goal-scoring opportunity but considered accidental, are not automatically sent off but cautioned instead.
Our view: It does seem rather harsh that a player who has made an honest attempt at playing the ball is dismissed, not to mention a clear goal scoring opportunity would then follow by means of a spot kick. A red card will still be shown to those whose offence was deliberately an effort to sabotage a clear scoring chance (Luis Suarez v Ghana 2010 for example). For us, we feel this rule is long overdue – it’s clear and concise as well definitely for the good of the game.
If a player is injured from a challenge that is punished by a red or yellow card, he can have quick treatment on the field of play and does not have to leave. The concept behind the new rule is that it is considered unfair that the victim team was down to 10 men and the guilty team has 11 against 10.
Our View: This is the rule that we disagree with most. While yes, in theory a player is sometimes injured after being on the receiving end of a bookable offence, but how many times does a player ask for treatment after being fouled, not that he is injured but only to waste time by lying on the ground, slowly getting to his feet and walking off with the medical staff only to want to return to the game before a ball is even kicked? The scenario just mentioned represents a greater threat to our game and is one that is only going to get worse with the introduction of this new rule. We’d rather see timewasting be stamped out by reducing the amount of players who are feigning injury. Achieving this is even easier than you’d think. By introducing a minimum time of let’s say 4 minutes, that player has to remain off the field to ensure that they are “healthy and fit to return playing”. Has anyone who has been seriously hurt in a match, ever actually been “healed” by the magic sponge or that cold spray? The concept behind this proposal is that a player wouldn’t seek "treatment" unless they needed it – why would anyone put their team down a man for a significant period of time in order to waste 30 seconds? Of course it goes without saying substitutions would be allowed to enter the play without extended delay if the player gone down is required to be subbed off.
Returning to the Field
If a player goes off to change his boots, at the moment he has to wait until the game is stopped and the referee has to go and check his boots before he can play again. Now equipment checks can be made by the fourth official or assistant referee and then reenter the field during play.
Our View: We don’t really see an issue with this, but in reality how many times in a season do you see a player change boots mid-play? It’s an odd rule considering a player cannot leave the field without the referees consent. Fouls outside field of play In the event that two players run outside the field of play, Gareth Bale v Bartra for example, and one tries to get back on to play the ball and the other grabs him off the field of play to preventing him to continue playing the ball. At present, the referee would show a card to the offender and play would restart with a drop ball. New laws will see a freekick awarded on the touchline/goal line, or a penalty should the location be within the penalty area. Thoughts: With this rule, the have hit the nail on the head. It may occur off the field but it is a foul nevertheless and for a team to lose possession over semantics is plain wrong.
Current laws state that if a [non-playing] substitute enters the field and stops play, an indirect freekick is awarded. In the unlikely but not unseen situation in which a team physician pulls the same stunt, play would resume with a dropball. Currently teams benefit from breaking the law. In future, they will become direct free kicks or penalty kicks.
Our View: Our view is that it probably still doesn’t serve justice for an act as heinous as the above, but it’s still an improvement from the current rules nevertheless. Penalty shootouts If a player gets sent off during kicks from the penalty mark, the other team doesn't also go down to 10. Theoretically, if scores were still level after everyone has taken a kick, the guilty team's best taker would have a second kick against the innocent team's worst taker. In future, both teams will be reduced to the same number of kickers. Thoughts: As unlikely as the scenario above is it’s aim is to make sure the laws are fair and not sides to benefit from breaking laws of the game. A good rule, in our eyes.
Part of the law book says when players commit an offside offense, you give a free kick where the offense occurred. Then there is another section of the book that states a free kick is positioned where the player was considered to play the ball. These two locations can be very spaced apart where a freekick would then be taken. In future, the free kick will always be given where the player is considered to be active and interfering with play.
Our View: As a player, I feel that the offence of being called offside occurs the instance the ball is played and though it only comes into effect once you are considered to be involved in play – I don’t see anything confusing by it, but some do apparently. However we feel there are bigger concerns regarding the offside rule, specifically as to what is defined as interfering with play which has progressively gotten worse since they last tried to clarify it – but that is a whole new discussion for a late date and a later post. We just hope it doesn’t worsen the situation.
Corner Flag Logos
Club logos/branding will now be allowed on corner flags. It actually occurs in the English Premier League, but in reality was actually against the laws of the game until now funnily enough.
Our View: Irrelevant to us as far as match play is concerned, really. Though it does little to diminish the fear of globalization taking over the sport by adding means of organisers placings sponsorship advertising on them. Manchester United have already committed the biggest offence by painting the mascots blue and dressing children like mutants ahead of the upcoming film, X-men: Apocalypse. Let’s pray it stops there before we see adverts painted on the field.
FIFA are aiming to encourage referees to referee according to the spirit of the game and to use common sense, specifically at grassroots level. If a match can be played despite a minor breach of the law, it is to be reported to the authorities and to be sorted out at a later date. In a sense not to be too black and white in minor areas.
Our View: We are obviously in favor of match officials employing common sense at football matches, whether or not that will take place at an FFV match is yet to be seen.
Regardless of people’s opinion of the rule changes, doesn’t it seem rather odd to introduce them just prior to the start of the world’s second biggest stage, and not the beginning of the domestic league season?