I have been watching some soccer games recently and hearing how Americans largely find soccer boring, noisy, full of sissies taking dives, and controversial officiating, the following suggestions occur to me:
- Allow each team captain three opportunities over the course of the entire match to request an instant replay where any of the following are at issue:
- A goal was denied due to a penalty of any sort. (Think U.S. v. Slovenia.)
- The captain believes that a call or failure to call a handball, diving, or offsides was improper.
- A corner kick is denied where the captain believes the defender last touched the ball.
- A player is given a red card and the captain believes it was unfounded.
- The captain believes the ball did or did not cross the plane of the goal line and was improperly called.
The replay officials would require clear and convincing evidence of an error to reverse a call.
- Have the clock kept by official timekeepers on the sideline with control of any scoreboard clocks. They stop the clock every time the ball crosses the plane of the sidelines and any time the official’s whistle blows and start the clock when the ball is back in play. This eliminates unpredictable stoppage time at the end of matches and also would probably allow the halfs to be shortened to 35 or 40 minutes while yielding the same amount of actual play.
- Allow unlimited substitutions.
- Give an automatic red card to players penalized for diving. They are removed from the match immediately and the side must complete the match without a substitution.
- Make the goal 22 cm higher and 44 cm wider. (This adds one diameter of the ball on every side, which ought to lead to more scoring.)
Bonus idea: Forbid artificial noisemakers of any sort in the stadiums.
There you have it. Five simple suggestions that would, I think, greatly improve international soccer and which would resolve many of the greatest complaints among those who are interested in soccer, but not yet committed fans.