To the kind attention of: Mr. Joseph “Sepp” Blatter – President Fédération Internationale de Football Association Zurich, Switzerland
So listen, I hear you have this big shindig happening in Brasil in a few weeks. Apparently it’s pretty popular?
Every four years you get a bunch of grown men in shorts together to kick a ball around on a really big field.
Ball goes left. Ball goes right. The crowd gets really excited; lord knows why because nothing actually happens. In fact most games have less scoring than a 1950’s junior-high sock hop.
So Sepp once again this year FIFA will hold it’s World Cup of Football (Soccer) and there’ll be 360 million people in the U.S. and Canada who won’t give a rat’s backside. In fact most of us would rather watch reruns of Big Bang Theory, than your silly tournament.
Why? You ask.
It’s simple really: Soccer rules are stupid.
Now don’t get me wrong Sepp, the sport that we here in the upper two-thirds of North America call Soccer, is actually a beautiful game. And I’ll give you this; it is certainly one of the most accessible and democratic ones too.
No matter how rich or poor your parents are, where you live, what colour you are, or what religion you practice; as long as you have feet, can find a round object to kick around, and a large open space to do it in, anyone can play soccer.
We sure can’t say the same for skiing, tennis, hockey, or real football.
You know real Football right Sepp? The game where grown men get knocked down on purpose, and nobody cries about it for twenty minutes?
So if you want to have sports fans in North America take your game seriously, and have more than just the family members of team USA watch your tournament, these are some things you need to fix with your game:
Sepp you’re an intelligent man. Even you have to admit that the concept that only one person in the entire stadium actually knows when a game is going to end is absolutely ludicrous.
Aside from the obvious fact that it leaves the door wide open for refs to favour one team over another, not knowing how much time is left removes that sense of urgency from a close game for everyone.
So knock it off with this silly added time business. When the ball goes out of play, stop the clock. When the ball goes back into play, start the clock. That way everyone knows how much time is left.
Not convinced? Watch how crazy fans get near the end of any close hockey, basketball, or football game, and then try telling me I’m wrong.
Sepp, no one on planet earth understands how offsides work in soccer. I’ve played the game and over the years I’ve asked a few dozen people who should know, including coaches, players, and even officials. Know what? Each time I ask, I get a different explanation.
I know it has something to do with the receiver of a pass required to keep two defenders between himself and the goal, until the pass has left the foot of the passer.
But then smart defenders can deliberately force someone into being offsides by moving ahead of them just before a pass is made.
If it sounds too darn complicated, that’s because it is. Stop the madness Sepp. Do like Hockey. Put a line across the field twenty yards in front of each goal. This becomes the offensive zone. The ball must cross the line into the offensive zone ahead of any attacking players or else it’s offside – simple.
You’re going the wrong way
Kicking the ball back to the goalie or defencemen to bide time, reset the play, or just to keep the ball from an oponent totally kills momentum.
If a defender is good enough at doing his job to make the offensive player kick the ball back thirty yards in the wrong direction, then he bloody well deserves the ball.
If you have the ball you should be attacking. If not you’re just putting everyone to sleep. Which I suspect is the reason why those anouncers always yell GOOOOOOAL! so loud – to wake everyone up.
To pick up the pace and get the ball moving forward you could look to basketball. They have backcourt violation and shot clock rules in place, that are specifically designed to keep play moving and keep spectators awake.
Need I say more?
I know, guys falling and rolling around like they’ve just been shot in order to draw a penalty, has alway been a part of the game; nudge nudge, wink wink.
That just means you’ve always been doing it wrong.
Players who do this are an embarrassment. It makes your beautiful game look like a joke. Particularly when thirty seconds later that same player is doing cartwheels like he has just won the lottery after scoring the go-ahead goal on an undeserved penalty kick.
Hey dude, what’s with the celebrating? We thought you were dead…
Fix it Sepp. Fix it fast.
In hockey, players who dive get penalized. No blood or exposed bones poking through your skin? Then you’re faking and get two minutes for delay of game.
Look at what they do in real Football when a player goes down. Play stops. The clock stops. The team trainer goes onto the field to tend to the player. Then, whether he merely stubbed his toe, or needs to be airlifted to hospital, he must leave the field and is not allowed back for a set period thereafter.
Want to stop the theatrics? Make supposedly injured players get off the field for at least five minutes and see what happens. My guess is that soccer players will suddenly become a lot more resilient when it comes to a little incidental contact.
Now Sepp realistically I don’t expect you’ll make any of these changes just a few weeks before your big tournament. But I am hoping that you do care enough about the world’s grand game to eventually bring it into the 21st century.
The game doesn’t need micro-chips inplanted in the ball to judge if it crossed the goal line. It needs signifcant rule changes like the ones I’m suggesting here to help us take it seriously.
If so come World Cup 2018, maybe some of us here in North America will take it serious enough to watch.
A would-be Soccer fan