Everything suggested in part 1 surely seems logical to the impartial observer; I have no doubt that each of those topics has already been discussed within FIFA to varying levels. It is now time to suggest something substantially more radical.
The Scoring System
In addition to removing the offside rule, adopting a sin-bin approach and bringing in video technology, I propose that we completely amend the scoring system. Even those games that are considered to be exciting might still only end up with a handful of goals scored. Why don’t we turn everything that happens into a meaningful event on the scoresheet? Further, why don’t we make those scoring situations more likely to occur?
The best way I can see to achieve more excitement is to increase the size of the goalposts. We can keep the current goals as they are but introduce a larger goal around the outside; the result is an “inner goal” and an “outer goal”. Inner goals are the usual 24ft by 8ft high and outer goals could be 60ft by 14ft.
The object of football is to score goals so, while there will be points awarded for different actions that take place in the game, by far the greatest reward is to score a goal. I have devised a point-scoring system which rewards attacking play, also rewards good defensive play but penalises offenders for foul or negative play.
Here are some notes of the above categories which might not be obvious. A “shot on target” is only awarded if it is saved or blocked, in other words, a goal scored would not additionally count as a shot on target. “Woodwork” effectively means hitting the post and the ball rebounding back into play. A blocked shot is always made by a defender, a save only by the goalkeeper. The “15-second rule” refers to the length of time the ball is in play before it is propelled into the other team’s half of the pitch. “Diving” relates to any kind of activity where a player tries to gain a free kick when they haven’t been sufficiently fouled. “Backchat” refers to any criticism of an official, or a decision they have made, by a player or a manager.
I know what you are thinking. This is ‘pie-in-the-sky’, unprovable logic designed to be controversial. I predicted your thought process and thought I would attempt to demonstrate how it might work. I decided to record the Championship play-off final of 2017 between Huddersfield Town and Reading, the intention being to scrutinise every action that could be considered point-scoring under my new system. I’m under no illusion that this type of experiment is flawed. There were no inner or outer goals on the pitch at the time, and more importantly, the players were not aware of these rules while the match was taking place. Nevertheless, it did allow me to tot up the scores just to give us an idea of how it would pan out.
Over 90 minutes, the match ended in a scoreless draw with – let’s be honest about this – an underwhelming amount of action in either goal area. Although I never considered extra time in my calculations, they couldn’t score a goal in the next 30 minutes either, and a match worth over £180 million to the victors was settled by a missed penalty kick. This is a perfect example of why I’m disillusioned with the sport. Watching a recording of the game while accumulating scores according to a different method actually made things a lot more interesting for me, and I can only assume that the same would apply to spectators because there was something significant happening right throughout the game. Here is a picture of my rough scoring sheet; blue ink denotes the first half, red denotes the second:
I then built a spreadsheet to calculate the result based on the points per action mentioned earlier. You will see that although Huddersfield Town were promoted on penalties, they lost this match 196 – 190.
Out of every statistic in the above spreadsheet, the thing that astounded me most was the extent of the thing that annoys me the most. Reading passed the ball back to a teammate in his own half from a position in the opposing half a total of 36 times; that is more often than once every two minutes of actual playing time.
So, who wants to appoint me on to the board of directors of FIFA? I feel a petition coming on.