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A way to make football better

By Walter Broeckx

One of our readers said that the problem with time wasting is not the rules but the refs who for some reason don’t enforce the rules on the field. And I could only agree with this. I must say that I sometimes feel like doing a crusade against dangerous tackles on my own. And then I get to hear sometimes : “other refs don’t do it like that”. And there is a very big problem for refs. We all do our games from our own point of view. We all have our own past that we bring in to the game, we all have our own points of attention and things we find less important.

And one of the big issues that we hear every year on our annual course at the start of the season is that our FA is trying to bring all the refs in one line and to have the same decisions from all the refs week in, week out. And to be honest I think this will never be achieved because of what I said in the last paragraph.

But does this mean we just have to accept the differences? Can nothing be done? As an ever optimistic person I think we could do something to help everyone in football. And in fact it is something so simple I really cannot believe that no one ever thought about.

Sure Fifa and the local football associations have come up with some initiatives to bring some problems under the attention. Like the racism and about being equal. And even at some time when refs were abused by players and managers they brought up this theme and started a “respect” campaign. Now this is all very nice and fine but I think Fifa should take another step and make sure that we all get some better knowledge about the game.

I think Fifa and the local Football Associations should choose each month a theme which they want to focus on and  bring under the attention of all people involved in football. And as a normal season takes about 9 months time I took the liberty to chose some themes myself as an example and what could be done with it.

So we could have the month of the “Fighting the dangerous tackle”. At the start of the month Fifa should start with a video clip to be shown before the start of each half of each game when that game is being televised. A clip with horror injuries and with the clear message “NO” on the screen.

They should send a memo to ALL referees with clear instructions to focus on those tackles and to ban them with red cards. Better one red card too many than one leg broken should be the message towards the refs. They should send the same memo to all the clubs and instruct the clubs to pass the message to the players and the manager and to tell them that there will be a zero tolerance against dangerous tackles. And the public should be informed with the same video clip on TV and also before the game in the stadium itself.

(Oh yes on a side note:  please give severe punishment to players who kick other players off the field with a serious injury. I would suggest if an injured player is out for less than 10 weeks the offender should get the same punishment and is banned as long as the other player is not fit. If longer than 10 weeks out a minimum ban of 15 weeks could be a nice one. And if a player never comes back a ban for 3 years would be a very nice gesture I would say.)

Now I know as a ref how important it is to be reminded on a regular base to some parts of the laws in football. The rulebook and instructions are some 140 pages (A4 format) and you can always forget a detail and you can always benefit from reviewing the law book at regular times. So if all the refs would get the same message each month at the same time the chance that the refs will act to this letter is much bigger. So you could get the same decisions in the same scenarios on different fields. Something we all want I think: everyone being treated in the same way.

So you also could have the month of “Banning the elbow” in which you warn the players for being careful with their elbows and instruct the refs to throw the serial elbow offenders out of the game.

And after that the month of “Stop the time wasting” in which the refs pay extra attention to the time wasting tactics and also the illegal drying the ball tactics which cost a lot of time.

And then you can continue with  “Make an end to shirt pulling” and not only in the middle of the field but also in the penalty area.

And what about the month: “Get rid of the tackle from behind” which speaks for itself I would say.

Lets have a “Stop the assault frontal tackle”-month. In which players will have to be very careful to avoid red cards for this dangerous type of tackle

And also you could have a theme “Respect for the ref”  and in this month you better not go to a ref and surround him and dispute his decision as it will cost a yellow card for each player who comes to the ref.

Next you could have a theme ‘Respect for your opponent” where you try to focus on looking at each other as colleagues and not as enemies whose legs should be kicked to pieces.

And finally a month with “Respect the spirit of the game” in which you focus on the fact that if we all try to play the game in a fair way and with respect for each other and the laws football would become even more attractive for the spectators and more enjoyable for the players. Focus could be turned to not cheating with diving to gain fouls just to give another example.

And these themes should come back each season. So it would be a reminder for all of us each year and by doing this we will not forget that easy. No one will have an excuse that he didn’t know it. The refs will have no excuse when not doing what the memo is telling them to do and should be punished by the local Football associations. This punishment could be by setting a ref back a few leagues and only let him come back when he has shown signs of improvement. And it speaks for itself I would think that after the month the instructions are still valid from the months before and will be followed by the same punishment for the rest of the season.

Fifa and the local Football associations should be condemning players and clubs who are not working on the themes in public. The media should be asked to help Fifa and the local Football associations and to back up the themes in their football shows and programmes.

I really do believe that if Fifa and the local Football associations would make an attempt in this direction that it would have its effect. And I really do believe that if players know what they risk they will think twice before doing stupid things on the field.

And to have the best effect it should be repeated every year. Because as the Latin idiom goes: Repetitio est mater studiorum (repetition is the best teacher).  To keep football clean is a fight that has to be done day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out and year in year out. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope it anyway.

Dreaming and dreaming, the untold way

Dreaming about life 100 years ago

5 comments to A way to make football better

  • T2T

    Careful now. I agree totally about the overall intent of reducing dangerous tackles. The problem with banning players depending on how long a player gets injured is that sometimes, even with multiple angles, slow motion, etc – it’s not possible to see exactly what has happened.

    Yes, I do think some tackles should get a longer ban but not necessarily only those that cause serious injury as that is sometimes down to bad luck.

    What I would like to see is those who constantly foul others, who consistently pt in late tackles (Ryan Shawcross comes to mind), etc – those players need to be taken out of the game.

    The FA should have the opportunity to review any incident during a game and hand out bans according to the findings. The system should be with a kind of “jury” where previous players, managers, players reps, etc should come together and review incidents.

  • Terence McGovern

    ALL of that works for me. Nice!

  • FinnGooner

    If you are a dreamer so am I. I would love to see that happen.
    Also I think with bad tackles (that have caused long time injuries) should be remembered when giving the ban, meaning if a player has caused another player having broken leg ban should be longer (break 2nd players leg in 3 years you get bannend longer 2nd time since you did not learn the lesson) also ban should be all football (national and international).

  • Paul C.

    Firstly, I do not think players should be banned according to injuries sustained. That will never work. You must be sure of intent or else someone could take the game to court and they would win the court case.

    However, there are other, far simpler ways. The types of tackles we are talking about could be kept track of and if the referee sees the dangerous tackle and gives a red card then that is a first warning. If the referee doesnt see the tackle then video evidence is used as a citing procedure and a 3 game suspension (same as a red card) is given and a first warning. Players on a first warning go onto a black list. Players remain on the black list for 3 years during which time they are on probation. So Wilshire would now be on a black list, for example.

    If the player commits another dangerous tackle they get an automatic 10 game suspension. No appeals.

    If the player commits another dangerous tackle they are suspended for the season. No appeals.

    Done this way Shawcross would have been suspended for 10 games (plus the 3 for a red card) and so would have been out for 13 games, a much more reasonable punishment. If Shawcross still didnt feel he was doing anything wrong and did it again, he would be out for a season and maybe his manager might start trying to discourage such tackles.

    Dangerous tackles are dangerous tackles whether or not they cause injury. Injuries should be irrelevant to the punishment.

  • LORDGUNNER

    ban any player who are more or are as ugly as Rooney. 🙂

    Agree with paul C the duration of the injuries should have nothing to do with the ban.And for the same tackle some player would have severe injuries and some minors.Shawncross would have been ban for a season (Ramsey,Jeffer and on player in belgium)