FIFA’s stipulations are damaging our game

October 26, 2009

There are a few thing in the game which really frustrate me right now. One of those is diving, but I’ve covered that one before. Another is defenders not being penalised for obstruction when they make no effort to play the ball as it rolls out for a goal kick, yet they do everything they can to stop the attacker from playing it. Thirdly is the number of players who aren’t penalised in the box at set pieces, despite their actions belonging in a WWE wrestling ring. But the biggest one by a million miles is players being penalised for slide tackles, despite winning the ball.

There were a few of these over the weekend. Celtic captain ‘Mick’ McManus was penalised on the edge of the box for a tackle where he clearly won the ball, but the worst one this weekend was in the La Liga match between Sportin Gijon and Real Madrid. Sergio Ramos made a fantastic tackle, clearly winning the ball, and not only was he penalised but he was booked too!

Now I appreciate that an effort has been made to protect the more skillfull players, and to outlaw the type of defending we used to see from the Italians and ‘Chopper’ Harris, but now it has gone too far. I don’t know about you, but when I go to games I like to see players showing commitment, fighting for the shirt, and the crowd can get just as excited about a great sliding challenge as they do when their team wins a corner.

However, FIFA’s new requirement to referees to book players for ‘violent intent’ is a nonsense. It makes me wonder if the rule changes are dreamt up while some clown watches the NBA, and is seriously something which needs to be reversed for the good of the game.

I want to see attacking football as much as the next man, but I also want to see a midfield battle and I appreciate ‘the art of defending’. However, the way we are going any type of contact at all is leading to a free kick. This makes an absolute mockery of the sport.

What is particularly annoying is that while fair tackles are being penalised, we also get to see actions like those of River Plate striker Ariel Ortega in yesterday’s River-Boca game. Ortega did his bit to get Boca defender Julio César Cáceres sent off by going down holding his face despite the tiniest amount of contact on his chest. Seriously, it was like Dida and Rivaldo all over again, and there is only word that accurately describes his actions: cheating.

The net result of this is a poorer game (or ‘product’, as some insist on calling it) all round, played by cheats and wimps more concerned with their hair gel than playing for their fans. Is it any wonder that English Rugby players know the Premier League as the ‘Brylcreem Premiership’? Football is supposed to be a contact sport, yet some players would be better off on a diving board, or maybe starring in the ‘Scottish Play’ than being on the football pitch.

I’d humbly suggest that FIFA sit down and reassess their priorities with the way the laws of the game are changing, or they’ll slowly start turning fans away from the ‘beautiful game’.

Still, there’s always basketball eh?

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