By Glenn Hoddle
Marco van Basten, the new technical director at FIFA, has come out with some fairly extreme suggestions for changes to the laws.
I can’t say I agree with any of them. But I’m not one of those who wouldn’t touch the rules of the game.
I think there are several ways football could be improved and some of them in the same areas as Van Basten discussed.
The abolition of the offside, as Van Basten suggested, would create a free-for-all and more direct football. We’ve tried it in training; it’s chaos. And ironically, it results in fewer goals as teams just lump it to a striker hanging around the penalty spot.
But the offside rule needs simplifying. At present the debate as to whether a player is actively involved in play is far too nuanced. How can a goalkeeper possibly decide if a player in an offside position but who is standing still might be seeking to gain an advantage?
If the player stays still, he’s often not offside. If he sticks a foot out, he is. And the goalkeeper is meant to calculate all of that as he tries to deal with the attack. In most instances, if a player is in the 18-yard box and in an offside position, he should be judged offside. That makes it clear.
There may be exceptions, such as when a player pulls the ball back and tumbles over and can’t get up. You wouldn’t want that player deemed offside. So, there will always have to be some interpretation. But at present there is too much ambiguity.
Van Basten is right that there are far too many periods of extra time where both teams are scared to take a risk and we end up with half an hour of tired, defensive football. His suggestion was to abolish extra time and instead have a shoot-out, with the player having a limited time to score from the halfway line.
My suggestion is to have a traditional penalty shoot-out but before extra time and after 90 minutes. That way one side would know they had won if they got a draw.