It seems like week in week out there are a number of items that crop up which angers and upset managers, players and fans alike, So to aid this I thought I would lay out a number of suggestions which when all combined could in theory drastically improve the game. Sure it would be met by resistance from certain groups and fans who don’t like change, but something does need to be done. It is a joke that Football is such a massive sport with obscene amounts of money in it and we get outdone in the officiation department by Cricket, Tennis, Rugby and even American Football.
Improving things now would lead the way to improve the nature of the game in the future and also encourage more people to get involved with officiating, leading to a better standard of refereeing for future generations. (lets be fair, in the current state, who would want to be subjected to this abuse at work each and every match!?)
So, here are a number of points that could improve the game when combined together, I’m not a logistics expert but many of these options are viable, it would just be down to the powers that be to work them into the game in the correct way.
It doesn’t matter how this is done, but something needs to be put in place to assist the referee and his team. Be it via video technology (point 2) or micro-chipped footballs, a goal is a “Yes” or “No” decision, there are no “well, it might have been a goal” scenarios, so something here could be introduced to help the officials decide if the whole ball crossed the line or not.
2) Video technology.
The big one – the contentious topic of conversation which divides the fans into two camps, the ones who embrace the fact that the game needs changing, and the ones who don’t (also known as the ones that are wrong).
With just regular TV coverage, we are able to see an incident in a matter of seconds, this is just regular TV pictures, with a dedicated system to cover the game for an officials point of view this could easily be brought down in time. “Oh but this will delay the game and we will have hours of stoppages” – firstly this is so wrong. Next time you see a debate about a decision, watch how long the referee will spend walking backwards away from the rabid players pointing, shoving, swearing and all trying to get their point across. The ref needs to then calm this down and then make the decision. If you wasn’t within earshot of the ref you have no idea the reasons for the decision. (This ideally would be coupled with point 3 – Microphones and Respect.)
With using video you have to accept that you cannot use it for everything, you can’t stop play to look at the video but what could happen is that a dedicated official (or team of) would be able to assess situations while the game is in play and alert the referee via his earpiece to any dubious goings on on the pitch. The referee already has the power to go back and book players for previous fouls, this sort of technology could easily assist this.
3) Microphones and Respect
The respect campaign, although a noble effort is pretty much a joke right about now. The officials have to deal with a lot of abuse from players and fans and have the world watching their every decision, the referee is always “wrong” because everyone else has the power to see a replay, in real-time the game moves at such a phenomenal pace that I believe it is unfair to be judging them for not seeing every little thing that happens. Just this weekend a number of decisions were made which were questionable but with a combination of technologies, all of them could have been resolved to some degree. (Tevez being booked for “diving” when replays show otherwise. Ashley Young winning a penalty when replays suggest that a severe amount of point 4 was going on! Did the ball cross the line in the cup semi final between Spurs and Chelsea? – Well no. but the goal was given anyway)
Having the officials equipped with microphones would allow decisions to be shared with the fans, it would also need to be paired up with a point on respect. The referees are pretty much abused each game by the players, they are always seen to be crowded around, shouted and sworn at and even physically moved by players who are wildly gesticulating. If rules were laid down saying that this sort of behaviour is not to be tolerated and players caught abusing the referee would be punished, this could eventually be stamped out. This is not a point on passion, players of all levels all like to whine and claim things on the pitch, but this is more a social issue. The system works in rugby and American football, it would just need a change in attitudes towards the running of a match.
4) Play Acting
One of the reasons that this play acting is getting out of hand is that nothing is happening to stop it. Diving is technically a bookable offence as Tevez found out this weekend (wrongly however) but so should blatant play acting. These guys are all in great shape and generally pretty tough, however when you see players fall over at the slightest issue and roll around like they were hammered in the face by a truck, only to be running about the moment the offending player was booked, something needs to be done about it. Maybe a foul is a foul, but if you were seen to be making a meal of it, why can’t that be a booking as well? Something like this is very difficult to enforce, but maybe the powers that be can sit down and have a think about this issue.
5) Corners, Free Kicks and Wrestling
Seriously, what the hell is going on with this. Every time a corner or free kick is coming into the box, shirts are being held, players are being held and generally it just becomes a wrestling match. I know the game should be a contact sport, but if this happened in open play it would be a free kick, no doubt about it, and most likely a booking. Give penalties, give free kicks, it may take a few weeks of 4 penalties a game to really hit home, but once this happens it wouldn’t take long to stop it. Failing that, actually book players for doing it.
Fans caught throwing things at players and officials should be instantly banned, this is dangerous and pointless. You wouldn’t walk down the street and throw coins at people, don’t do it at football. Also, since when does kicking the shit out of each other have anything to do with supporting a football team? All over the world it seems this yob culture is accepted among football fans, you get fans of both teams sitting together in other sports, but yet in football this could never work, and I would certainly not suggest it! Some things are more important than football, like a human life, and it seemed that maybe with the collapse of Fabrice Muamba and the unification of football fans – maybe we had turned a corner. Evidently some Chelsea fans at the cup game the other day didn’t get the message, being disrespectful during a minutes silence for the tragedy of Hillsborough and the shocking passing away of Italian footballer Morosini after collapsing on the pitch at the weekend is just moronic, I know it was a small minority and the rest respected it, but it is people like this that bring the name of football fans down.
So yeah, a few issues here which would be a good place to start, not just in this country I might add! Some of which will cost money to introduce, clubs should be helped out here, maybe having a wage cap or financial regulations in place would help improve the state of the game off the field, and not spunking stupid amounts of money on the national team manager and huge compensation packages would be a good place to raise some of the cash!
But then, what do I know, I’m just a football fan.