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Tuesday Cannon Fodder: changes

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The Best FIFA Football Awards Photo by Valeriano Di Domenico - Pool/Getty Images

TSF regular Our Bovine Public shared this from Arsene Wenger in the comments of yesterday’s CF. Wenger called for the international soccer calendar to only have “competitions of meaning” and suggested that the World Cup and Euros be played every two years so that the players have more opportunity to shine instead of, in some cases, only one World Cup in their “prime” because of their birth year.

Arsene has proposed a number of different ideas for changes that FIFA could make to football, some of them radical, some of them more practical. He most recently suggested changing the offside law to penalizing an attacker only if there is daylight between him or her and the defender.

It’s good that football has a prominent voice willing to think outside the box and creatively about the issues facing the beautiful game, one who isn’t afraid to voice his opinions even though some of the ideas might not be received all that well. Change just for change’s sake isn’t a good thing, but change can be quite good. Football has a misplaced reverence for “the way things were” and a dogged commitment to keep things unchanged even as the game changes with modern training, technology, and tactics.

Speaking of thinking outside the box, last week the Belgian Pro League approved an agreement in principle to merge with the Eredivisie to create a BeNeLeague made up of the top clubs from both countries. Obviously, there are financial reasons for wanting to merge, but for me, that’s a creative solution to the “our domestic leagues are struggling to compete” issue. That decision prompted a bit of discussion about merging MLS and LigaMX to create a superleague that could dominate this part of the footballing globe.

Some of the creative improvements for football that I’ve recently come across that I’ve liked include changing the shape of the penalty box to reduce the area and cut down on the number of penalties awarded in situations that don’t merit them. Penalties are so outcome-determinative, we need fewer, not more of them. I wouldn’t be averse to tinkering with the caution and sending off system i.e. yellow and red cards; it feels like there is too wide a range of things that fall into each category. It doesn’t feel right that you get a yellow card for an innocuous pullback on a developing counter and also a yellow for a wild, dangerous slide tackle. And speaking of counterattacks, I’ve thought more than a few times that intentional fouls to break them up should be changed to be a sending off.

I also think that football should have more after-the-fact review of on-field incidents, both dives and fouls, and that the powers that be should assess more retroactive discipline and fines. I’ve not hidden the fact that I believe that the VAR-era has completely screwed up the incentives for diving versus staying on your feet. Meaningful sanctions for cheating that can be assessed after the match on replay would help move things back in the right direction. But enough on that because I may actually write a more detailed post about it.

What are some of the creative, outside-the-box changes to the game, either on field or off, that have been rattling around your brains recently? Or more practical changes, I’m not fussy today.