In my first post of this blog I want to talk about a sport that is emerging here in American as the fifth sport behind the established Baseball, Basketball, American Football & Hockey. That sport is…. Soccer or in the rest of the world …. Football.
Today, I got up early to watch the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton on ESPN with Ian Darke and Steve McManaman with the call. In my opinion, Ian Darke is the best Soccer announcer around that calls games for America. His ability to relate to the experienced fan and novice fan without talking down to them makes him the best in the business.
Overall this was a great 2-2 draw and a great comeback from Everton in the first half with exciting disallowed Liverpool goal at the end of the game. With that disallowed goal (which was an incorrect call), I’ve thought this would be a good time to put in words some ideas to “modernized” the game of soccer and take the game from the 20th century to the 21st century.
A great step to modernize the game was taken place in the 20th century with the implementation of the Taylor Report and the formation of the Premier League in 1992, but watching Soccer now for the last 10 years, I’ve got a few additional ideas to ensure that the game is played and refereed correctly.
- The use of a instant replay system. Now this could be completed in two phases:
- The implementation of goal line technology to determine if the ball has completely crossed the goal line. This has been talked about lately with the possible use of GoalRef and Hawk-Eye. In my opinion, this should be implemented in time for the World Cup in Rio to avoid any more unnecessary and conversational calls. In this modern age of computer technology, I still don’t understand why this has not been implemented. That would be like saying “We have computers, but our Bank is going to continue to track our customers with pencil and paper”
- The implementation of an expanded replay system for other on the pitch calls. After the technology in sub point one is put into place for a couple of years, there should be a expansion to other areas of Soccer. Give the ability for each manager to challenge lets say two calls per game within a set amount of time (15 seconds of incident?) by informing the fourth official. This could be used for throw in’s, corner kicks, goal kicks, foul in/out of the box, ect. I’ve too many games adversely affected due to an incorrect call that could be easily and quickly correctly.
- The stopping of the clock during throw ins, after goals, injuries, ect. Since the start of soccer there has been a continuous running clock which, in my opinion, is an outdated function of the game. Back in the early days of soccer, it was a necessary function, due to the clock management technology of the day, but now a days time can be stop, started, added, subtracted with ease. This would resolve the issue with how much injury time to add to the game since the clock will not be running during these stops in the game. This would also relive the issue of players falling down with fake injuries late in big games since the clock will not be running during these blatant attempts to run out the game.
- Give the referees PA mics. There are usually a few calls a game that leave me wondering “What was that call?”. This would be a good time to give the referee a mic to announce to the crowd the call similarly to American Football. This would take the mystery out of the close calls and could avoid some adverse reactions from the crowd in the long term if they understand the officials reason/call
- Two referees on field. In American football, there is seven officials for 22 on field players. In basketball, there is 3 officials for 10 on court players. In baseball, there is 4 umpires for 10-13 on field players. In hockey, there is two referees for 12 on ice players. In soccer, there is one referee for 22 players…. one referee and with a playing surface as large as soccer, that is too difficult in today world to see and correctly call the plays on the pitch. It is time to add another referee to the pitch to get a different angle of the close plays. There can still be a “5th Official” which is today’s 4th offical. American football, basketball, baseball and hockey have all expanded their number of officials over the years since the inception of their professional leagues, now it’s time for top flight soccer leagues to do the same. They owe it to the players, coaches and most importantly, the fans.
- Awarding more Yellow Cards for barking at Ref’s. One thing I have noticed since watching soccer is the amount of complaining to the referees for calls/no calls. Not only does this look bad, it holds up the game. It is time to start issuing more cards for questioning the calls on the field by the use of loud verbal language or gestures. In American Football, if you bark, you will be out of place for the next play due to the play clock but officials do eject players for touching officials. In basketball, you get a technical foul. In hockey, you get a 2 minutes unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. In baseball, you get tossed out of the game from the over-zealous umpire, but that is a subject for a another blog post.
I would think that with any of these changes, the game would move towards the 21st century and make the game more enjoyable for the players, coaches, officials, and fans.