Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How to reduce fouling

Football, especially Premiership and Serie A football, has a problem: players can foul as many times as they like with no fixed penalty. It’s at the referee’s discretion to levy a yellow card for consistent fouling during a game and up to the media to flag players for dirty playing tendencies. It's not enough, but what else can be done?

To solve this I’d suggest a novel solution: give out a mandatory yellow card for a player’s first 4 fouls and then a red card if a player fouls 3 more times during the 90 minutes, then allow an extra foul (or deduct a foul) for extra time. To avoid too many red cards, wipe the slate clean after the first “aggressive” yellow which didn’t come as a result of a harsh tackle, etc, and give the player a maximum of 3 fouls before being sent off.

What this would do is begin taking action against the “professional” foul. Fouling is destroying football and its time that we got serious about it. Stopping play damages the flow of the game. There are too many stoppages of play to the detriment of open football.

What would be the best benefit of my suggestion? More goals. Players would have to be more careful about their tackles AND referees more careful with their whistles. Too often referees are at fault for calling touch fouls because of exaggerated reactions by the offensive player. It’s so pathetic to watch a millionaire flail on the pitch from a brush on his shorts. Enough. Referee's too often give the attacker the call because there is no reason not to give the benefit of the doubt.

More goals would come as a result of defenders having fewer tools at their disposal to stop the attacker. Defenders already have enough leeway. Football is one of the hardest sports in the world to score in. I’d like to see more real chances created thru open play resulting in a goal rather than free kicks. Lets reign in the fouling and start seeing 4-3 scores becoming the norm rather than the exception.


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Blogger whubris said...

I totally agree that professional fouling is a blight on the game, and agree with your implied suggestion that referees are too willing to give away fouls. In fact I was only discussing this with a friend this morning. We were bemoaning the loss of the brilliant Bobby Moore-style tackle. Also my friend remembered seeing George Best being handed a crunching tackle just outside the area which knocked both his legs in the air, but rather than claim the foul Besty recovered and scored a goal. Where is this in today's game? Why do these players go down so easily?

However I can't agree with your idea about automatic reds and yellows. It's just not practical for a ref to keep up with how many fouls were committed by each player. It's just asking too much of the referee.

Perhaps an external review board could, after each match, see how many fouls were committed by each player and give them a "post-match yellow card" if their total during a game, or during the season, reaches a certain amount. These yellow cards would count the same as those given during the matches and would result in the same suspensions. This would reducing the number of serious fouls (since all players would end up with more yellow cards). Referees could be instructed to allow a bit more "rough" play, encouraging players to "get on with it" when they are tackled.

It's a contact sport, for goodness sake. And they should get rid of this "no tackling from behind" rubbish. I've seen many brilliant tackles be punished with a free kick! What a joke!

12/01/2005 4:34 AM  
Blogger Spraggy said...

Good idea although I wonder how well number of fouls could be monitored without extra stoppages. the ref would have to stop the game to take the name of the fouler. Just going to break the game up more.

12/01/2005 6:00 PM  
Blogger Football Commentator said...

Whubris & Ben -

Good points.

Just last week the referee and linesman tried a microphone and earpiece.

Something like that could be done with the 4th official, since mostly he's just responsible for substitutions, therefore he could keep track so there is no confusion.

Its not too difficult to manage, in Basketball its done in every game.

12/01/2005 6:26 PM  
Blogger FTNChen said...

Although I do reckon that professional foul breaks the flow of the game, I prefer to see it as one of many tactics that teams can adopt.

If you penalize players for rough play, football will be so boring. Chelsea will stomp over Everton, Greece would not have won the Euro 04, and matches between stylish sides and lesser sides would be extremely one-sided.

The game is beautiful as is, because the rules allow players of different sizes and physiques to play to their individual advantages. Less skillful players can play to their advantage by playing with physical. Small players can dance around and between defenders. Unlike American football, size does NOT matter that much in this game.

The last thing I would like to see in this game is the title races being predictable and over by October, since the top teams will almost always win.

12/02/2005 4:27 AM  
Blogger whubris said...

Good point FC, it might be worth a try.

FTNChen, you also make an interesting point, but I think there's enough variety in the game to make sure it's still interesting - as it was 20 or 30 years ago when "men were men, and footballers rode tackles".

On the other hand the tackle against C. Ronaldo in the Man U vs Portsmouth game, in my opinion, was a definite yellow card. The commentators opined that it was a fair tackle, and that the player won the ball - which, according to the rules, I guess is true. However he totally went through Ronaldo's legs and could have caused serious injury. That's not the kind of tackle I was talking about earlier, and Ronaldo had no chance of "riding it". It was very dangerous and warranted the yellow card.

12/05/2005 12:25 AM  

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