Being the target of endless ridicule, questioning, and incompetence are generally not a way of life for most sane and rational human beings. Then there are professional soccer referees. The desire to voluntarily subject oneself to the trials and tribulations of being a professional soccer referee is just not an existence I can grasp. While I do not envy them, I do not pity them either as it is a path of life they have chosen.
For us soccer fans, the greatest of game experiences are when we barely notice the referee is on the field. When refs end up becoming as integral to a match as the players themselves, that is problematic. Which brings me to the question of the day… How can we make their jobs easier? What rules and regulations can we enact to see to it that controversial and questionable calls are minimalized? How about we enact some new guidelines to give referees a fighting chance on the field? Below are a few rule modifications that I believe will not only aid in making the refs life easier, but also enhance the flow of the game for players, coaches and fans.
Proposed Rule Change # 1: Diving/Flopping/Embellishment
I wrote an article about the subject very recently, so click the link below for my thoughts on that rule modification.
Soccer... The Time Has Come For A Zero Tolerance Diving Policy
Proposed Rule Change # 2: Purposefully stopping a goal with your hand
How / Why Would Impact Games: In certain situations a player (Luis Suarez) will blatantly use their hands to stop a guaranteed goal. Goals are already difficult to come by, so why allow scumbag players like Luis Suarez pull such shenanigans? For those who are not aware, in their 2010 World Cup quarter-final match against Ghana, Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez purposefully handled the ball to prevent a last minute Ghana goal. He essentially made himself a goalkeeper, as you can clearly see in the picture below. Suarez was shown a red card and Ghana's Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty kick. Ghana subsequently lost the match, 4–2, in the penalty shootout. Ghana were CLEARLY 100% going to score the game-winning goal, had it not been for such blatant rule breaking shenanigans by that toothy soccer villain.
Implementation: Easy, any field player who blatantly uses their hands to prevent a goal from being scored is essentially just giving themselves an automatic red card, with no advantage to be gained whatsoever, as the goal will count regardless.
Positive Aftermath of Change: No more cheap desperation goalkeeping from field players. Clear and obvious goals would now count on the scoreboard regardless of if it actually hits the back of the net or not.
Proposed Rule Change # 3: Adjust what is considered “offside”.
How / Why Would Impact Games: Keep the flow of the game moving and allow for more fluid attacks. While I certainly don’t want the outdoor version to become indoor soccer-esque with 9-8 score lines, I do think providing more opportunities for attacking players to do what they do would be more ideal. Does anyone else think it is ridiculous that offensive opportunities are negated because the players toe is over a perceived imaginary line the defenders make? Let’s give attackers a full step of freedom.
Implementation: Another easy rule change to implement, let’s allow the offensive player to have one step on a defender. Just one! Do you really think the player in the picture below should be considered offside? Really? This the perfect example of "one step" when it comes to modifying this rule.
Positive Aftermath of Change: More attacking opportunities, which will lead to more shots, more saves, and more goals. Where is the downfall?
Proposed Rule Change # 4: 3 Consecutive Yellow Cards Equals Suspension
How / Why Would Impact Games: As we are all fans of the game, the last thing we want to see are the best players unable to compete due to silly yellow cards. The range of infractions that lead to yellow cards is drastic. Not all yellow cards are created equal. We witnessed it firsthand during the most recent World Cup, where several players received two yellow cards over the course of the group stage and missed a game. In fact, had Portugal advanced to the quarterfinals, Cristiano Ronaldo would have missed that critical match. And for what? Two silly yellow cards in two separate games. Seems absolutely idiotic to me.
Implementation: Another easy fix, make it to where a player will be suspended if they accumulate 3 yellow cards in 3 consecutive matches. Call it the "3 strikes and you're out rule".
Positive Aftermath of Change: Silly fouls and questionable yellow cards will not prevent players from missing games. Simple as that!