Brace yourself: the football revolution begins

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Imagine a group of supreme or wise, if you prefer, which meets to discuss and decide on new rules of one of the things we love more. No, not the Bilderberg Group, which annually, between conspiracy theories and secret invitations, brings together various talking heads in the economic, political and banking to talk about what concerns the continuation of humanity. No, worse: the eight supreme are inside the International Football Association Board (IFAB), among the most powerful international authorities that have the power to determine any changes and innovation of the rules of football, tying them to observe all the federations. Basically, all the rules of the “most beautiful sport in the world” (as they say those who do not know curling, for example) pass through just 16 hands.
It may sound scary, but today, as we watch a game on TV or at the stadium, we show off such a massive series of technicalities or assumed, we do not realize the genesis or how we got here: 30 seconds longer of extra-time due to the yellow card for a player; the touch of a voluntary or involuntary hand to establish a penalty; the movement of the arm can increase the volume of the body; why the referee arbitrarily requires minutes of different injury-time from match to match. Juventus-Milan of the last Serie A season is the perfect synthesis. All rules, more or less acquired (even if sometime someone comes out that uses its own metric system) between those who chew football that leads us to be physical, exquisite connoisseurs of dynamics or of the human body.


The new football era was shaped several times and at the top of the pyramid there is always the IFAB decision: in 1966, for example, the eight wise men decided to introduce two substitutions after seeing a lot of games end in numerical inferiority or with limping war veterans. In 1992, instead, they decided to ban the opportunity of the goalkeeper to gather with his hands the ball passed intentionally with the foot of a teammate. One way to speed up the sport and make it more dynamic and attractive. Entertainment, they thought, like that kind of nonsense of golden or silver goal, sudden and bastards deaths that Italians remember well in the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan. In 2004 this murderous practice was banned from football.

In early March, in London, those of the IFAB (four representatives of the British associations and four FIFA members) met to put on table possible future activities. Some futuristic, other attractive, some almost asked loudly. Just like a sponge, football would absorb some of the rules of other sports and sew them on him like Harlequin patched dress. Although the risk is that it will come out a great mess, not all measures will be inserted (if allowed) in the same period. Ready to copy, to be contaminated by rugby, tennis and basketball and ready to introduce epochal changes. Let’s see some examples:

BERLIN – JULY 09: Fabio Grosso of Italy scores the winning penalty in a penalty shootout at the end of the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 Final match between Italy and France at the Olympic Stadium on July 9, 2006 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)


Var. The much-vaunted “replay”, a crusade Aldo Biscardi, an Italian journalist. The Var (which stands for “Video assistant referees”) will allow the referee to judge the doubtful episodes to make a decision as serene as possible. It’s a turning point already used, for example, in rugby; they are making technical tests and, at the time, should be used only in limited episodes like goal/no goal, penalty, expulsion or in person exchanges. So, could we validate Maradona’s goal against England in the World Cup in 1986 or not? We risk to not have never an emulation of the legendary atheist “hand of God” which is still the nightmare of the goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

Suspension time instead yellow card. It’s a point to be clarified, but stimulating. Like before, the sport of rugby gives us a hand: when the referee penalizes a player with yellow card, he is forced to abandon the field and leave the team in numerical inferiority for 10 minutes. A bonus for the opposing team like happen also in handball. In football it is yet to take shape, but we risk not to have more high-profile cases of yellow card and double yellow card in just a few minutes. Like the Sulley Muntari memorable endeavour who was sent off in 20 seconds, in 2010, against Catania. Man of the match!



Fourth substitution in extra time. The first thoughts go to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final of 2014 against rivals Real. If in the 60s, as seen, there was no change, with this experiment they want to introduce fourth extra change, beyond the three already existing, to be used exclusively during over-time. Perhaps it would still not changed the outcome of the match (remember, Real won 4-1, coming-back the game at 90′ and scoring three goals in extra time), but Simeone, who was forced to spend a change already at 9′ of the first half for injured Diego Costa, the idea of including a player fresh mentally and physically, would be very welcome;

Sequence of penalties. His Majesty, the “lottery”, where everything is reset like the Millennium Bug, where supporters, players and goalkeepers are the same united only by fear. Able to subverting all odds, inspiration for pages and pages of dramaturgy, the sequence of penalties could change shape, taking a spark from tennis. It would be a revolution: no longer a shot from 11 meters according to the pattern “A-B-A-B”, but, as it happens in tennis tie-break, using “A-B-B-A”. Beyond the popular Swedish band with bell-bottoms, the new regulation provides that a team kicks the first penalty and the opponent beats the next two. Then it proceeds again with two penalty until a winner emerges. This is because FIFA has shown that in 60% of cases, the team that shoots first, wins at the end. Except for the Netherlands. No, the Oranje are able to lose even if they kick starting first. Not only because they “face-to-face” against Toldo in 2000 or Claudio Taffarel in 1998 (but in those cases Italy and Brazil had kicked first), but in the World of 2014, in the semifinals against Argentina, Dutch started first with the defender Ron Vlaar…


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