Sunday, June 13, 2004

Improving the Rules of Soccer

I've been a soccer fan all my life, and although I love the game, one thing about the rules has always bothered me. The penalties for fouls do not seem to be balanced quite right. A free kick from inside your own half of the field is basically worthless, except for the fact that you get posession of the ball. The rules do not provide enough of a deterrent against committing fouls far from your own goal.

A free kick near your own goal is essentially like a goal kick. But this does not seem fair, since tripping or elbowing someone (for example) is a more serious offense than merely kicking the ball out of bounds. A really flagrant foul anywhere on the field might result in a yellow or red card, of course, but this is rare, and it still does not deter players from committing minor fouls far from their own goal just to slow down the game, run out the clock, or annoy opponents.

For a while I pondered the idea of adding hockey-style penalties in soccer, where the offender would have to leave the field and sit in a penalty box for 2 minutes. This might work, but it would be a hassle to administer, and the idea does not feel true to the spirit of soccer.

Instead, I thought up a new rule that is simple to understand, easy to administer, and does not introduce any new type of penalty. I propose that when the referee awards a free kick, the team awarded the kick can choose to either take the kick at the spot where it would normally occur, or to take a throw-in from anywhere on the field that they choose.

This way, instead of taking a free kick from deep in your own territory, you could choose to take a throw-in closer to the opponent's goal. If you felt you would be better off with the kick, perhaps because it would provide a quicker restart, then you could still choose to take the kick. I think this rule would cut down on so-called "professional fouls" by increasing the consequences of fouls committed far from your own goal.

1 comment:

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