-- No offside rule;
-- Penalty box for carded players;
-- Increased number of substitutions;
-- Substitutions on the fly;
-- Maximum number of fouls allowed per player;
-- No stoppages for more than 10 seconds during the last 10 minutes of a game; and
-- Shootouts to decide the winner instead of kicks from the penalty mark
It is interesting to observe that the technical director of FIFA is now recommending some of the applications of the old NASL which the rest of the world had frowned upon. The old NASL had a 35-yard line for the offside and a shoot out to decide the winner in tied games.
Actually the abolishment of the offside had been tested in various forms without too many positive observations for “attacking and exciting soccer”. IFAB had recently changed the interpretation of “active play” in favor of the attacking teams with some positive results. I do not expect that in the foreseeable future the offside rule will be abolished.
Penalty box for carded players, maximum number of fouls allowed per player and the use of time judges are potential changes in the LOTG for the foreseeable future. These changes will definitely be in favor of “attacking soccer.” In the future there might to be three different categories of disciplinary action: Cautions, temporary sending offs and sending offs.
I conjecture that in this system the second cautions might result in a 10-minute suspension as well as the denying an obvious goal-scoring chance (DOGSO) infractions. The third caution, serious foul play and violent conduct will still result in a permanent sending off namely a red card.
IFAB has already agreed to allow a fourth substitute during overtime. Hence there will not be too much objection from IFAB for the increase of the number of substitutions although I personally do not see how this will affect “the attacking soccer” positively.
I never liked the kicks from the penalty mark, but it was better than drawing lots or a coin toss to declare the winner in knockout competitions. Teams that did not risk losing played the extra time in a way so that result will be decided by kicks from the penalty spot. Games and championships won by kicks from the penalty mark in no way represent the teams who deserved to win. Bringing in shootouts -- which is actually an idea borrowed from ice hockey -- might bring more excitement to the game but in essence it will not completely be a fair tool to decide the winner. Maybe the teams should play until one team wins in overtime. Maybe for each extra time a player should be taken off from each team. I believe this a more radical but fairer solution to find the winner in knockout competitions than both the kicks from the penalty mark and the shootouts.
Instead of redefining the LOTG, maybe we should redefine the pointing system of our leagues and championships. Maybe we should bring in salary caps to all the leagues or enforce UEFA financial fair play effectively so that the wealthier teams do not dominate leagues, forcing the less affluent clubs to resort to a defensive game. When the three-points system was introduced in the 1980s, it made a lot of positive changes in the game. Maybe we should reconsider how we split the three points in a tie game. Maybe the two points should go to a team which has statistics that show their attacking nature like shots on goal and/or number of corner kicks but definitely not possession time. We must find ways in our competition rules to promote teams which “play to win” and penalize teams which “play not to lose.”
If I were Marco van Basten, the Technical Director of FIFA who is responsible for all aspects of soccer development in the world, instead of focusing on major changes in the game I would worry about an eminent danger to the game: the potential of a breakaway by the major clubs. The European Club Association’s (ECA) current deal with FIFA to release players for international matches will expire following the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The ECA could, at that point, decide to stop releasing players for international matches and ECA can leave FIFA completely. If the leading clubs break away from UEFA/FIFA after the 2022 World Cup, then ECA can shape the LOTG in any way they want to.
Ahmet Guvener (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former Secretary General and the Technical Director of Turkish FA. He was also the Head of Refereeing for the Turkish FA. He served as Panel member for the FIFA Panel of Referee Instructors and UEFA Referee Convention. He now lives and works as a soccer consultant in Austin, Texas.