FIFA is testing out a new set of rules at the Future of Football Cup that could potentially change soccer as we know it.
FIFA was encouraged to make changes to the game due to a decline in youth engagement with the game. According to Sports Business Journal the average age of people watching soccer is 40 and 15% of viewers are under the age of 18.
Florentino Perez, president of the Real Madrid Soccer Club, said in July 2021, “Young people find matches too long, we might have to make matches shorter… if changes are not made we [European Soccer Clubs] will be dead by 2024”.
FIFA may be taking Perez’s advice with the following rule changes to the Future of Football Club:
- Breaking the game into two 30 minutes segments
- Stopping the clock for every interruption such as an out of bounds or a foul
- Unlimited Substitutions
- Kick Ins (Are you serious?)
- 5 minute penalty for yellow cards
Now that the background information is out of the way let me share some of my opinions on these rule changes.
Soccer is an intricate game, it is unlike other sports because of the level of intelligence and finesse required. There is a sort of strategy to winning a match. Some of these rules take traditional strategy out of the game. I don’t think any of these new rules are outrageous but it is creating a different kind of sport. The reasoning behind the rules make sense, it prevents players from wasting time or prevents penalties, but that is all a part of the sport. I play soccer, not whatever this “new soccer” is.
Thirty minute segments are way too short. Soccer is a low scoring game to begin with, shortening the halves is just going to make the game more likely to go into overtime.
Stopping the clock when the ball goes out of bounds or there is a penalty sounds great in theory. We have all been there, the score is 3 to 2 in the last few minutes and the winning team takes their sweet time getting the ball for throw-ins and such. That’s part of the game. You might not like it when you’re on the receiving end but we have all done it. The only stoppage I can see is when someone is injured or perhaps when the ball goes out on an endline, if I’m being generous.
No complaints about unlimited subs, but at the same time it does take away an element of strategy.
Kick ins is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Unless you are playing a small sided game on a small field there should be no kick ins. Allowing kick ins would devalue the corner kick. It would also make the game brutish in a way, throw ins makes sure the ball can’t be thrown 50 yards down the field. Kick ins would take away the necessary finesse and skill needed to play the game.
Penalties are a part of the game. This is not hockey or rugby there is no penalty box or sin-bin. Soccer is unique, penalties are used strategically, and although they are frowned upon, they are a part of the mental aspect of the game.
The whole point of these changes in my opinion is to make soccer appeal to a larger audience but in doing so it is going to enrage the fans of the game.
Soccer isn’t broken, so stop trying to fix it.