Since I claimed at the outset that I wanted to (and could) improve football simply by applying the existing rules, I must of course now justify that I nevertheless have a suggestion here and there for a rule change that could make just as great a contribution.
The basic idea of increasing the attractiveness of football by applying and correctly interpreting the existing rules, so that more goals are scored (please don’t say later that I “spoiled the soup”), is primarily based on the process of rethinking. A situation that could lead to a goal should, if possible, be allowed to continue. The linesman (ok, assistant referee) should, if possible (following the American suggestion for the 1994 World Cup, which was even written into the rules), keep the flag down and not raise it in a panic whenever someone is standing very freely. The referee should have the “courage” to point to the spot in the case of clear fouls, even in the case of non-clear goal situations, and not instead pull out a yellow for a swallow. “It was a foul, the rule is for penalties for fouls in the penalty area, so I give penalties”. Intuition makes him flinch because you think you have decided a game with a penalty (which leads to a goal over 70% of the time). Even this effect would be much smaller with a higher number of goals (if a team leads 1:0, 4 goals or more on average is far from a decision. One could also say: “Now it’s really getting exciting!)
Nevertheless, apart from the abuses already described, there are a few more that could certainly be manifested in the rules. The order is not determined by the size of the grievance. Before I present them, however, I would like to share a few thoughts on the vexed subject of…
2) “Fair Play
to get rid of. I am of the opinion that the whole idea of fair play, at least under today’s conditions, should be neglected, forgotten. The media make the default, the default is that the choice of means or the achievement of success, is a subordinate criterion. The winner is celebrated without reservation. He deserves to win because it is the goals that count. If the most important player of the opponent was “put out of action” by a bad foul and the culprit received the punishment appropriate to the offence (yellow, of course), then this does not detract from the respect for the winner. The terse comment after the victory “…but nobody will ask about that in a fortnight anyway…” and that’s it. Now it’s time to celebrate. And just as nicely pick on the loser. Don’t you dare let the coach blame the loss of his best player for the defeat! These are cheap excuses that are only meant to distract from one’s own mistakes and weaknesses. “Aren’t you making it too easy for yourself?”
Of course, what I would have in mind is that the media should basically flip the switch. After a 4:3 win, they should not be the first to criticise the two coaches after the “catastrophic defensive mistakes”, the coach of the winner even, that surely, despite the victory, he would never have been able to cope with these blunders in the defence…. and, what’s more, he would certainly have had a grey hair or two in addition, but instead thank them both for a great game. “The winner was (once again) football.”
My father had always liked to say the following sentence: “Football is a full-fledged substitute for war.” Need I mention that this was sarcasm?
The Olympic idea should come to the fore. Without spectators, football has absolutely no winners or losers to help it. Celebrated heroes only exist if someone wants to celebrate them. A winner only exists because there is also a loser (sometimes several). Thank the loser too. It is through him that the spectacle is possible. And: he often lost not because he did a lot, let alone everything, wrong, but often enough only because only one can win and luck was the deciding factor. Being there is everything! Goals are the salt in the soup! No matter whether it’s for or against your “own” team.
Before I finally lose my grip, I remind myself once again that we are not in Utopia. This is the real world. Except I can at least mention that this is how it is done for the most part in American sports. The spectators and the players know that they are just part of a big spectacle. Emotions are part of it, ambition too, the will to win, excitement and crowned winners. But please don’t forget that the whole business only works if the spectators “swallow” it. The spectator finances it, there is no way around it. And if the viewers are scared away…
That was a rather long explanation of the topic in general. Nevertheless, I wanted to shed light on a few concrete situations that are commonly associated with the idea of “fair play”. At the same time, I want to show that it is more than hypocritical.
It all started with the following game situation: A player is lying injured on the ground. In the past, I can even remember it quite well, it was the case that if the “injury” was not caused by a foul situation, the game simply continued. I don’t see anything wrong with that either. The injured player had been knocked down by an unfortunate action and was trying to get back into the game as quickly as possible. It was still partly in the days when substitutions were not allowed as a matter of principle. When the rule on substitutions was introduced, it only applied in the case of injuries (this was indeed the case, but it was changed after one season because those responsible soon realised that it was impossible to check the injury required by the rule). The 11 players who played had to grit their teeth in the early days anyway.
Back to the situation mentioned: A player was lying injured on the ground. The opposing team wanted to start their attack. But another player noticed that the player lying on the ground was actually and seriously injured. He signalled this, the player with the ball played the ball, completely unchallenged, ignoring his own favourable chances, out of bounds. The helpers were able to enter the pitch, treat the injured player and continue the game. With what action? Of course, with a throw-in for the opponent, i.e. for the team that had the injured player. The throw-in was taken to the team’s own man, but this man, equally unchallenged, played the ball back to the opponent. The spectators, who were the first to witness such a situation, honoured this. They gave the action a sympathetic round of applause. Both parties acted fairly. One played the ball out of bounds, although they could have tried to take advantage of the favourable situation, the other could have insisted on their possession of the ball afterwards, which was theirs according to the rules. Fair play, clapping. All the right things.
So far, so good. This action has now become accepted in all stadiums, in all leagues, on all football pitches in the world. When a player is injured on the ground, the team in possession has a damned duty to play the ball out of bounds. If they don’t, the whistle is blown mercilessly (a scoundrel who claims that this “rule” only applies to the away team). Then the ball is played out, often enough reluctantly, the “injured” is treated, the game continues with the action as described above, but the applause already becomes less warm and hearty, if at all. A kind of “compulsory applause”.
It seems to be a kind of rule that has not been laid down. In principle, of course, it no longer has anything to do with fair play, since every single action of the whole game situation is predetermined. You have to do it that way. And so the idea of fair play is nothing more than a stale empty phrase.
Unfortunately, it gets much worse: First of all, it happened once in the English Premier League that a team did not play the ball out of bounds, continued its attack and even scored a goal. Of course, it first went down in the media as the “un-fair play” of the century; moreover, the team that was the “victim” of this action lodged a protest against the match’s score! This is simply perverse. The idea of fair play is being turned into the opposite, And it is exactly the right word for it. What was considered fair play becomes an obligation, an offence can be punished and even the match classification can be called into question! This is absolutely ridiculous. I see, it’s called fair play.
It only becomes really ridiculous when I describe the modern practice of this “enforced fair play”. It looks like this: a player loses the ball in attack. He tries to “save” the action in the last instance by simulating a foul play by the opponent and accordingly drops to the ground. However, he correctly does not get a free kick because the referee has caught him out, but the ball is simply gone. The team now in possession of the ball is pleased with the referee’s good eye, who decides to play on and hastily launches a counterattack into the now exposed opponent’s half. But what happens now? The attackers look at each other questioningly, the opponent offers no resistance at all, the way to the goal is clear! But the opposing players all point their fingers in the opposite direction. Oh dear, the poor, unfoulled attacker is still lying on the ground, his face contorted in pain, even rolling back and forth! The team that is on the attack plays the ball out of bounds, visibly annoyed.
Back to the injured player and his tragedy: I assume the ambulance has just been set in motion, the emergency surgeon already alerted, when the man returns to the pitch after relatively short treatment, but still limping. In the next action he is back to his old self. It seems to me that this was a kind of “blind alarm”, a kind of “Monday sickness”? Who should be able to check if I can’t get out of bed on a Monday morning because of my migraine, and only because I fell into bed 3 hours earlier with 1.8 per mille?
In any case, the team that now has possession of the ball again passes it back. But not into the promising situation the other team would have been in objectively, but someone pushes the ball very far forward so that it goes out of bounds, if possible, but close to the corner flag. After that, proper “pressing” is played again, which means that all opponents are covered. If we win the ball now, we might even be able to… And don’t talk to me about fair play!
I can also put it this way: the safest way to stop a successful counterattack is for a player of the team threatened by the counterattack to stay on the ground. This is also a good idea for (defended) corner kicks. Because something can always happen in the scramble in front of the goal, can’t it?
In connection with fair play, another story comes to mind, in the form I always like to tell it. It’s the 83rd minute of an important game. One team is leading by a goal, just barely, as usual. Then suddenly a player is lying injured on the ground. I don’t look at all (on purpose), only someone watching tells me. Then I immediately offer a bet and pay five times the money (odds: 6.0) that the player will wear the jersey of the leading team. A daring bet, do you think? Shouldn’t the probability of a player getting injured be about 50% for both teams? I’ll take a chance anyway. After all, experience tells me that 9 times out of 10 the player is from the leading team. If 9 is enough. Should he expect an advantage from this and also trust in the phenomenon of “non-verifiability”? It’s a farce, really. The fact is that there is an advantage to the behaviour. Firstly, in the form that the flow of the game is interrupted and secondly, in the form that the seconds and minutes saved are never played in full. Time play has a purpose, it brings an advantage. But if I were a kindergarten teacher, there would certainly be no advantage for the children if they did not tidy up the room as instructed. And that’s certainly not because I’m a particularly strict educator. There simply has to be a remedy for it. As a referee, I would react like this — and I am not a trained pedagogue –: if a player is on the ground for a minute, I allow two minutes to be played. Maybe then he will get used to it?
The following game situation is also just unbelievable, the way it has developed in the last few years. The situation is this: a team is down by two goals and scores the tying goal (there’s no such thing!) with 10 minutes to go. There is still time to think about equalising or even more. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the game continues. How do you make sure the game goes on? You get the ball out of the net. That’s what the players did 50 years ago. Don’t turn away, cheer, let yourself be celebrated (what for?), but get the ball and play on, of course. But what do you notice when you score a goal? You run into the goal, to where the ball is, and someone is already there! The goalkeeper has also pounced on the ball! What’s that all about? It was in, you’re too late, keeper!
The whole point is to stop the game. And it succeeds. The goalkeeper has the shorter way (most of the time) and simply holds onto the ball. That is already a provocation. But the attacker, who would like the game to continue, tries to take the ball from the goalkeeper. An argument ensues. The referee has to intervene. Both players get yellow, that’s the rule (no, the rule), and usually far more than a minute is won! The goalkeeper’s behaviour, as absurd as it is, is rewarded once again! And a goalkeeper with a yellow card is nowhere near as endangered as a field player, that’s what’s more.
The scenes you get to see are just absurd. Often nowadays, four or five players are suddenly in the net, a commotion, when only one player wanted to get the ball out so that the game could continue…
3) Distance between walls
But here are a few really practical examples. The first one is the annoying wall distance. As far as I know, a rule was written down in 1863. It read as follows: if a foul is committed, it is punished with a free kick. In order for the team taking the kick to really benefit from the situation, all opposing players must be at least “10 yards” away from the ball. The idea was: if a team commits a violation of the rules, there is a penalty for it. They are not supposed to have an advantage, are they?
It was also written down that the players must be “at least 10 yards off the ball”. This seemed to be an appropriate distance to those responsible at the time, as free kicks close to the penalty area in particular could certainly lead to a dangerous shooting situation, a goal.
Now I have two questions in this context:
1) since it was set at 10 yards, it is not quite clear to me why one should not manage to keep to this 10 yards?
2) if 10 yards is too short a distance, i.e. if it is too rare for a goal to be scored, could it not simply be increased to 12 yards?
Regarding 1): I think that 10 yards is sufficient, as long as it is adhered to. However, in the last 45 years I have seen practically no important free kick near the goal where the referee has managed to enforce this distance. You see the referees measuring the distance again and again with weighty steps, then desperately trying to push the wall gradually close to this mark, because the players simply don’t want to comply with the request (very popular here: complaining and pointing in the direction of the shooter). So the referee gradually taps backwards towards the wall and then agrees on a compromise of 9.5 yards with the players, who then knock out the remaining half to full yard by tapping forward again during the run-up of the shooter. When executed, the distance is usually 9 yards at most, which is 8 metres.
I feel a bit like I’m in kindergarten again. You forbid the children to dance on the table, but they do it anyway. “Yes, what was I supposed to do? They just didn’t stop.” I would think of something, guaranteed.
Re 2): to my mind, a direct free kick near the penalty area too rarely becomes a really exciting action, i.e. a goal. The main reason is of course explained above. But I would also otherwise simply decide that the wall must be moved back a metre or two. Just because it was once decided in 1863…? More goals, more tension. Besides, it often enough seems to me that the free kick becomes an advantage for the team taking the free kick. The foul is committed deliberately – of course, immediately afterwards you raise your arms apologetically or claiming innocence, that’s also important – because you know that the resulting action, the free kick, poses less of a threat to your own goal than the striker who broke through would. The goal situation would be better if there was no foul.
I stand by the overall call, which is worthy of consideration:
Any offence in the rule book should result in a penalty so severe that the offence is not profitable (Crime dont pay).
The consequences of the offence, when weighed against the consequences, should advise each player to refrain from committing the offence. Why should an offence not result in a real penalty?
In principle, the penalty should always be so great that the punishment is worse than the consequences would have been if the offence had not been committed.
4) Extra time
It used to be the case that the referee decided at his own discretion how long to allow play to continue. This had the pleasant consequence that the players were concentrated until the end and also tried to make constructive attacks until the end. The referee then often enough thought: “Ok, the attack still.” And the game just went on.
Then a clever person once thought that it might be advisable not to make injury time purely arbitrary. To do this, another official was sent to the sidelines holding up a board with a recommendation for the ref. “We recommend three minutes of injury time.”
The referees had guidance, and so did the spectator. There was still tension, but one had a rough idea of how long it could go on. What negative consequences such a rule change could have, even I could not have guessed at the time. It seemed a sensible addition, even to me.
But the consequences were extremely sad. But until today, no one has really noticed. That’s why I’m describing my observations here, so you can compare them with yours:
When I see a game approaching the 90th minute today, I virtually know that nothing can happen now. And one goal, please remember, justice, logic or not, I have always clearly expressed: the game should be exciting, how can we contribute to that, how can we increase it? So why this sad episode and how does it make itself felt?
I’ll explain this best with an example: A few days ago, I had once again seen a game in which one team, as usual, was leading 1:0. But the clever coach had saved two substitute options. He played these two jokers, quite cleverly and completely in accordance with the rules, at the moment when the injury time of two minutes was displayed. The first substitution lasted exactly 43 seconds. Curiously, the player who was substituted had a very long way to go (I think he was on the right wing at the time of the substitution, but surely by chance! I was just about to call a paramedic for him to carry him the last 14 metres over the touchline when he managed it after all. It’s amazing what men, real men, real guys, are capable of doing in such emergency situations!
The game was resumed, but only for 3 seconds. The ball was immediately sent out again. The point was to make the second substitution! And, lucky for the coach, he had saved one more, because the player now chosen for substitution was even more exhausted than the first! I really felt sorry for him, someone should have intervened, at least supported him? But the miracle happened: he also made it over the sidelines. In the meantime, the post-match clock showed 1:45. As I remember, the team behind had received a goal kick. The goalkeeper ran, hit the ball far forward. That was a big mistake! Everyone knows that the whistle blows when the ball crosses the halfway line! He would have been allowed to play for another 15 seconds, provided he had played the ball at his own penalty area…
2 minutes of injury time were to be added. It was 8 seconds in total. But this was without a single opportunity to carry out an attack. It makes you shiver, if you have any sense of justice. He should have blown the whistle straight away.
So, as I said, it’s a farce. I have seen so many games and a standard behaviour of the leading team still looks like this: if you have a promising counterattack, you dribble the ball towards the opponent’s corner flag! There you step on the ball and wait, with your back to the pitch, of course. And if an opposing player then tries to get the ball, you drop theatrically out of bounds. You are happy to take the yellow card for the opponent…
However, if the opponent manages to get his foot on the ball by fair means, then you get a throw-in. Incidentally, the throw-in specialist, i.e. the left defender, is designated for throw-ins at the right corner flag. The first two players near the ball drop the ball again. The specialist is finally there! He actually throws the ball on. He throws as far as he can under the circumstances, i.e. 2 metres 50. The man who gets the ball dribbles towards the corner flag again. That’s when football becomes a celebration! If you ask me how to stop that? I don’t know, I don’t even know how to get the kids off the table!
None of this would have happened with the earlier version of the rule. And who am I to contradict the phrase: “Everything was better in the old days? — (Even the future).”
5) “Escorting the ball out of bounds”
I am already aware that my observations are also very unspectacular in parts. And why extinguish a fire before it is even burning? Basically, I have pointed out, also in previous sections, that the injustice I see in football is mainly based on a disadvantage of the attackers compared to the defenders, which robs the game of a lot of attractiveness. The referees decide, in the case of absolutely identical offences, to play on if the defender commits it – but only if the attacker is lucky, otherwise he sometimes gets a yellow for “attempted deception”, in the case that the attacker commits it also a yellow – but then for the striker, for his rough tackling. The free kick is awarded almost automatically – against the attacker. As I said, identical offences. I would expose the referees by asking them to judge foul situations after I have “touched away” all the lines, spectators, teammates and other opponents and then ask for a verdict on a number of scenes. The result would be devastating – for the match officials and also for the rules commissions.
But in the context of “favouring the defenders over the attackers”, I can also think of one absolutely ridiculous scene that one has to observe very often nowadays: An attacker receives a pass that he can’t easily reach. A defender gets his body in between. The defender thinks he has the scene absolutely under control. He has his body between the ball and the attacker. But if he were to play the ball now, the question would be: where to? He has his back to the pitch and no other player is within reach. So he decides not to play the ball at all. He had not touched it before and has no intention of playing it now. His intention is to accompany the ball out of bounds. The attacker tries everything to get hold of the ball, the defender keeps pushing his body in between, and finally the striker spikes the ball away before the line. The defender immediately falls down theatrically. The striker gets a yellow or sometimes not a yellow, a free kick is awarded one way or the other. In any case, one thing is certain: he doesn’t get the ball.
The annoyance for me is that I don’t want to watch the whole ridiculous scene at all. If I were to watch it, it would only be if I knew it was a “fair fight” that the striker could also win. That is simply not possible. You should see the outraged defenders when the ball is spiked away (I’m now assuming really fair means, which is not that rare). Even the teammates are attacking the attacker because of his boorish entry. All right, so if it was conducted by fair means and everyone had a chance of winning the duel, I could perhaps bear it. But the way it’s practically whistled, it’s just a nuisance.
Nevertheless, I’ll look at this from a technical point of view, because we are in the chapter “Proposed rule changes”: The player in possession of the ball has a certain privilege. By being in possession of the ball, the rule allows him to protect the ball from attacks by the opponent, and even to do so with a certain amount of physical force. There is nothing wrong with that. I would also like to give the player who has the ball a certain privilege, because this little thing also serves to the advantage of the attackers and thus the attractiveness of the game.
However, in this scene I ask a little provocatively: Why is the defender actually in possession of the ball in this scene? He is using all the advantages that the player in possession of the ball is entitled to. The only thing is that up to that point he has neither played the ball nor even intended to play it.
I would simply say that you can only use these advantages of possession if you have also played the ball or had the intention to do so. Here, the defender’s behaviour would clearly be “blocking without the ball”. He does not have the ball, does not play the ball, does not want to play the ball, but nevertheless puts his body in between. Penalty: foul play, to be punished with a free kick.
So even here, the existing rules would be almost sufficient to stop such a nuisance. But if an addition were needed, it would be this one: A player is not in possession of the ball until he has played it or has the apparent intention to do so.
6) Goalkeeper protection
Here, too, time has brought with it that goalkeepers are “protected” far too much. It is a kind of rules interpretation that is then simply and silently adopted worldwide, by every referee. But it has long since had nothing to do with the written rules. The reason is always the same: A goal changes a game so much that people are afraid to allow it. The referees are happy with any means to make a decision against the attackers. Then there is no goal and everything remains as it is. If there is a goal, then the chances have shifted extremely.
Nowadays it’s actually like this: if a goalkeeper drops the ball on a cross, then there’s a free kick. And it’s for the goalkeeper. Almost always it is also the case that he is in distress, so there is justification for a free kick. There are three possible reasons for this:
a) There are often enough own players in the way. They obstruct the own goalkeeper. He drops the ball. The only striker who was standing somewhere in the tangle of players is made out as the “culprit”. Decision: Free kick, what else. For the defence.
b) The goalkeeper often enough makes a move in the direction of the players, even if they are opponents. So a cross comes into the five-metre area to a striker standing at the short post. The goalkeeper sees disaster coming, lunges in that direction, skips over the attacker in the process, but does not quite get to the ball cleanly, falls over the striker and drops the ball. Decision: Free kick. For the goalkeeper.
c) The action is very often far outside the five-metre area anyway. There, the goalkeeper would have no special protection at all. But the referee gets a fright when the keeper drops the ball and decides here too: Free kick. For the defence.
All this would already be covered by the existing rules and would not need to be changed. Only it would have to be applied that way. The rethinking goes like this, as in all other situations, and this reflects the thinking of the neutral spectator and not the pure fan of the defenders, who are the only ones with an interest in the non-goal: The goalkeeper drops the ball. Wow, now it’s getting exciting! Let it run, maybe a goal will be scored. And that generally adds to the excitement, for almost everyone. That’s what we want to see. And not that: whenever it gets interesting, the whistle blows.
But I don’t even see any reason why the goalkeeper should be protected in the five-a-side. Why should he? We need goals. And you have to commit to that goal first. With the goals, the spectators stay and the neutral ones come back. Football? I want to watch. Something is happening.
7) Alternatives to penalties
This is an age-old suggestion of mine. All right, I admit: my father pointed it out to me at an early age. What I don’t understand is why you can’t just differentiate between the defenders’ fouls in the penalty area? There are numerous actions in the penalty area that are promising. The striker is about to shoot and the defender shaves his legs. Penalty. A defender makes a handball on the line. Penalty. That’s right, that’s how it should be.
But there are also numerous fouls that occur in situations that have absolutely nothing to do with a goal threat. Why not simply introduce an alternative penalty for that? Especially since it is precisely here that the referees shy away from giving a penalty in the first place, as a matter of principle. Even in quite clear situations, the whistle is often refused. But in addition to that, in situations where a clear foul can be recognised, but the punishment is obviously too harsh? There’s nothing there.
So either apply the rules. Then the consequence would not be that there would be 20 penalties per game, but that the defenders would hold back a lot, especially in the penalty area. You would have more and more attractive goal situations. Or simply changing the rule to provide for an alternative penalty.
One idea for this: the short corner, like in hockey. Or even a shot from 16 or 20 metres without a defender.
8) A few free suggestions, ideas from the USA
a. Decision by penalty shoot-out?
I just wanted to mention this here too: The Americans demanded an increase in the attractiveness of the game at the 1994 World Cup. They wanted to change a few things so that more goals would be scored. What remained were these: The back-pass rule was introduced and the recommendation was made to referees to give the attacker the benefit of the doubt in offside situations.
Major League Soccer was introduced in 1994 after the World Cup. The Yanks naturally had a small hope that the World Cup would trigger a boom. But the MLS did not become such a great success. It is still running, stars are still being brought in, but the spectators are rather slow to accept it. Football is not an American sport. But it might yet become one.
Nevertheless, they have changed the rules for their league to the extent that it was possible and seemed to them to increase its appeal.
The one thing that was changed immediately was the penalty shootout. It’s simply that it doesn’t give a fair distribution of chances. The winner is basically determined by luck. Tragedies are bound to happen. A shooter chooses a corner, the goalkeeper chooses the same corner and saves! To attribute this to Olli Kahn and his famous piece of paper is something only the Germans are brazen enough to do. There may also be small differences in ability, the majority remains luck. The distribution of chances is unbalanced. The shooter has the advantage, “he can only lose”, as the popular saying goes, while the goalkeeper “can only win”. He speculates, if wrong, no problem, he was the underdog after all.
The Yanks were immediately bothered by this. They introduced the penalties. A very good idea, in my opinion. The attacker has to run towards the goal alone from 35 metres. He can shoot at any time, but he has to finish after 6 seconds at the latest. He can play off the goalkeeper, pass over him or try to overcome him with a long shot. The goalkeeper, for his part, can run out, throw himself down, speculate or wait, go quickly, slowly or not at all. In short, there is a much wider range of possibilities. It would definitely be interesting to see. You could also give penalties in play, again as an alternative to penalties.
Is it because the rules commissions are “too encrusted”? Or because Franz Beckenbauer once said, “Leave football as it is.”
b. Three-point rule
The three-point rule was introduced to make the game more attractive. A thoroughly positive attempt. However, practice shows that the impact has been very small. The number of draws has not been drastically reduced and the average number of goals has not increased. Here are the figures from the last three seasons of the German Bundesliga before and after the introduction of the three-point rule:
1993: Draw: 29.29% Goals: 2,936
1994: Draw: 27.21% Goals: 2,918
1995: Draw: 28.10% Goals: 3.016
1996: Draw: 35.29% Goals: 2.715
1997: Draw: 22.87% Goals: 2,977
1998: Draw: 27.78% Goals: 2.879
Average with two-point rule: Draw: 28.20%
Average with three-point rule: Draw: 28.64%
If one were malicious, one could say that the rule would rather have increased the undesired effect. There were (slightly) more draws and also fewer goals. And I don’t think the rule represents a higher level of justice either. You get a reward for risking by playing to win in a game that’s drawn, because you’re only risking the one point you’d have that way, but could win two. Teams just don’t stick to the idea that it’s worth fighting for. But for me, it’s not even certain that it’s mathematically worth it. For it to pay off, you would have to be able to win at least 33.3% of the time, compared to the 66.7% in which you would have to accept defeat. And I can’t at least prove with certainty that this is the case. Because of the advantages of defending and the chance that the opponent exposes himself and you can then take the chance that presents itself on the counterattack, I could even imagine that it doesn’t add up. So the players (maybe also the coach giving the instructions) are actually behaving correctly if they “don’t risk too much.”
One should also not confuse the situations: there is a situation where a team is leading 1-0 and wants to save this advantage over time. Here, too, the trailing team runs the risk of exposing the defence and conceding 0:2 through a counterattack. But the two huge differences: If you have already lost, i.e. you are 0:1 behind, you can only improve your chances. But even more serious: The leading team can only hope for a slight shift in the odds in its favour if it uses a counterattack. One has all three points even at 1:0. This means that you do not run forward with all your men but rather counterattack “moderately”. You would like to, but you don’t have to, and one thing is above all: Don’t risk too much!
On the other hand, if the game is drawn, the counter-attacking team can expect a reward. You can gain a whole two points! So it is worthwhile to go out and send a lot of players forward when the opportunity arises. In good German, you could say that both teams are “watching” each other to see if one of them could be so stupid as to risk “too much” and expose the defence.
This reminds me a little of chess. There, it has long been known among grandmasters that you can’t win a game just like that. Normally, at the top level, people “feel out” each other. And if you risk too much, you’ll be outplayed. The position does not allow it. The game doesn’t allow it. Just like football. Defending is smarter. The zero must stand.
Of course, the media are also largely responsible here. If we didn’t always pick on the losers, but thanked them for the entertainment, the perspective would change here as well. Imagine a coach who is once again attacked by a reporter after a defeat about what his team lacks and whether he still feels the support of the club management, and he replies: “The game was 1-1. I substituted a third attacker in the 70th minute. I calculated that the chances of us scoring the goal were 40% compared to the 60% chance of conceding another goal, so I took a risk. But the 60% chance came to pass, not surprisingly for me by the way. I’ll do it again next week. Maybe then we’ll have a total of three points instead of two points from the two games.”
Rationally, the reasoning would be correct, perhaps mathematically correct. Unfortunately, however, he wouldn’t even be on the bench the following week…. Blame? The media. They are sawing at the chairs. The coach continues to prescribe the “orderly offensive” to his team and not a game of hara-kiri, which might be mathematically worthwhile but jeopardises his job security and thus represents a factor that cannot be calculated. Suffering: once again the spectator who wants spectacle. And actually everyone does. Except for the few fans of the team that might lose because of the spectacle.
So, be that as it may, one could just as well return to the two-point rule. It is simply fairer. Or you could follow another suggestion of mine. It looks like this:
Three points are awarded in each match. If there is a winner after 90 minutes, he gets the three points, the loser of course gets 0. If the game is a draw, each party is assured of one point. The third point is determined in extra time and/or then in a penalty shoot-out. The risk pays off in a reasonable way. You can get a third whole point if you manage the winning goal in regulation time. But the third point is not lost for good in a draw. It is still played out. You can see the justice in the table. Again, there are plus and minus points. Those who win a lot of games regularly still have the best cards. And I hope that excitement is also ensured.
The downside of such an arrangement: you no longer know the exact time of the game. That could cause difficulties for the media broadcasts as well as for the paying fans in the stadium, who would rather have a time schedule. On the other hand, this has worked for decades in the cup. So it would probably be more of a habituation effect.
9) Penalty replay
Again, what I can’t understand is why the referees aren’t able to make sure that a penalty is taken according to the rules. Not that I think a penalty is a particularly fair thing to do, as can be read elsewhere. In cases where a clear goal-scoring opportunity is prevented it is of course the correct penalty. In other cases, there should be an alternative penalty, see above. But if a penalty has been awarded, then surely it should be possible to ensure that it is executed correctly?
What I mean is this: there are practically always players running into the penalty area. In principle, this is a nuisance for me, because it is simply not allowed to be in the penalty area before the ball has been kicked. There it is again, our kindergarten. The players do what they want — if it is not possible to forbid them. Very well, but it is forbidden. So you have to issue punishments for the misbehaviour so that it is no longer “worthwhile”. Just like with children.
Of course, players from both teams always run off, almost at the same time. That makes things a bit more complicated. Now the referee is supposed to monitor the correct execution of the shooter and the goalkeeper, but also simultaneously of all other players. Above all, I think the differentiation would be necessary: If the referee sees that a defender is the first to enter the penalty area and the penalty is nevertheless taken, the penalty kick would of course not have to be retaken. If it is not a goal, however, it is.
Conversely, if a player of the team taking the penalty is the first to enter the penalty area and the penalty is taken, it would have to be retaken, but not if it is not taken. Why not just write something like that into the rules? Apart from the fact that I would also argue in favour of a yellow card if the ball is kicked too early. Because it remains annoying in all cases that it happens at all, although it is forbidden.
10) Referee ball
This is also just a small “throw-in” from me: I still remember well how the referee in earlier years often, if it got “too much” for him, if something didn’t go as it should, if there was a recognisable injury, the spectators were misbehaving or there was some other irritation, he simply stopped the game. It didn’t matter who had the ball or where it was. The referee decided that the game needed to be stopped and blew the whistle. The normal continuation of the game was then done by a referee’s ball. One player from each team had to stand by, the referee threw the ball in and they had a (fair) duel for the ball.
I heard that before the 2008/2009 season, the referees were instructed to decide independently whether an injury had occurred if a player remained on the ground. The players should not worry about it but continue playing normally. The referee should take care of the stoppage of play. Continuation of the game by? Referee ball, exactly.
A sensible instruction, in my opinion. It was made in order to stop the “acting to prevent a counter-attack” that was denounced above. The only problem is that at first the players simply don’t comply. But not the attacking team, which would like to continue playing, but the defending side! They simply stop playing and point indignantly in the direction of the “injured” player lying on the ground. In this way, they force the referee or the opponent to play the ball out of bounds after all. The spectators contribute their share. In other words, the rule, which makes sense, is boycotted by the decisive side and is therefore not implemented. The rule is prevented from being implemented in practice. It does not find its way into practice. And after a while it is impossible for the referees to whistle according to the instructions. So if a player remains on the ground and the referee decides to play on (or even “decides” nothing at all), the opponents remain standing. Then the spectators start whistling. Then the game is interrupted. It doesn’t work.
But the referee’s ball itself has also degenerated into a farce. The referee looks at the two players who are supposed to fight for the ball, then indicates who is to gain possession, gets the nod of approval, throws the ball in and one player shoots the ball into the opponent’s half, strictly as agreed. In any case, the game situation that arises has nothing to do with the one before the interruption.
11) Handball in the penalty area – deliberate movement towards the ball.
By the way, this is one of the most absurd rule changes or interpretations I have heard or experienced in my entire life. The handball in the penalty area. When a defender commits it, of course.
If I have understood everything correctly, then there should only be a penalty if the defender’s handball was caused by a “deliberate movement towards the ball”. It is unbelievable that such nonsense can be written into the rules. I would like to briefly ask the three decisive questions:
a. Would you like to give penalties?
The first point of course goes hand in hand with all my other assertions: In principle, the referees do not want to give penalties for said reasons. The shift in the distribution of chances caused by this decision is too great for them. Not allowing a shift through the “undecision” is not perceived as a change in the distribution of chances, although it is of course identical in effect. Whether one allows a postponement or prevents the occurrence of a justified postponement is of course the same. But it is not perceived that way. “Why, what do you mean? You still had enough time afterwards to score a regular goal.”
By this formulation of “deliberate movement towards the ball” the referees have simply been given another excuse , not to give a penalty kick. And this excuse is used abundantly. There are no more penalties for handball.
b. How deliberate is deliberate?
I’m sure I’m asking this somewhat provocatively. But the absurd “unconscious” movements that I have seen recently, according to the referee and the reporter, really make my hair stand on end. First of all, I would like to pose another question: When a handball goalkeeper “gets a ball” and does so on his hand. Was that then a “conscious movement towards the ball”? No or yes, interpret it as you like. In any case, he is more than happy to get the ball off. It is his defensive strategy to get his body, including all available extremities, in the way as best he can. He “deliberately spreads himself”. However, each individual part of the body is not consciously steered towards the ball. It may well be that here or there a reflex is responsible for the final touch. But even then, one may ask to what extent reflexes are called “conscious”? Not at all, I think, but it hardly makes a difference.
That’s about how defenders have behaved since the rule was introduced. They are all little handball goalkeepers. Only in football the ball is much slower than in handball. Here and there you have the opportunity to “deliberately” intercept the ball and then wait for the referee’s benevolent interpretation of the rules (and be rewarded). I have played football long enough myself. You just know what you’re doing. On the field, you move your arm or hand in the appropriate direction. As a spectator, I can see the movement whether it is conscious or not. But it wouldn’t even play a real role for me.
The defenders make themselves wide, like handball goalkeepers. And are grateful when they get the ball. The cross, the shot on goal is prevented, the play on is guaranteed, simply clever.
But I also remember my youth as a football player very well. In the penalty area, the rule was not only “arms to the body”, it was also followed extremely pettishly. Because if your arms left your body, you had to fear that you would get the ball against it. And then you had to seriously expect that the referee would see that and point to the spot. In any case, I also know that you can very consciously avoid getting the ball on your hand. If it did happen, there was the only (absolutely logical and convincing interpretation of the rules) exception. And it was called this: A raised arm. That is not handball. The arm had to be somewhere. And there’s simply no better place to put it than on the body. But I also readily admit that a clever footballer can still use it as an “intercepting body part”. You just had to extend it a little bit, even though it was on your body, bend your elbow and you still got it against it and no referee judged it as a penalty. But that’s just by the by….
So please please please: Get rid of this rule! Penalty for handball.
c. What role does the effect of the change of direction play?
If one absolutely insists on this, then one should nevertheless be allowed to differentiate here as well. If it is a ball that would go over the goal line, even if the hand is only “unconsciously” in the way (which I still doubt in practically all cases, see above), then you simply have to give a penalty anyway. And so there are many comparable situations where one simply has to say: Here it doesn’t matter whether the movement towards the ball is conscious or unconscious: you simply have to give penalties.
I would like to briefly describe the absurd situations that defenders “get away with” nowadays:
An attacker wants to bring a cross into the penalty area. The defender gets in his way, but the ball still passes him, or at least his body. As soon as the cross is fired, however, the defender pulls up his own arms, stretches them far above his head (at least one arm) in his straddle or whatever he does. The ball bounces against it. The referee’s decision, as always, is to play on.
Another situation is this: A direct free kick from 20 metres. The wall is laboriously cleared to 8.20 metres. The shooter fires his shot. All the players in the wall hold their arms at head height, as if to protect their heads. The elbow is folded out, sometimes even raised above head height. The ball often bounces against it. You already know the referee’s decision: play on.
12) Yellow cards – past and present
This story is not directly a proposal to change the rules. It is rather a view that would have to be taken with the rule. I just read in the book “German – Football, Football – German” how the rule change on the yellow card actually came about. It was a game at the 1966 World Cup in England. The German referee Kreitlein wanted to send off an Argentinian (Rattin). He refused to comply with the request. Allegedly, he later claimed not to have understood the command because the referee did not speak Spanish. So a short time later, yellow and red cards would be introduced.
Well, in principle, of course, that’s fine. I just remember the blessed old days. Back then, the spectators had a sense for unsportsmanlike conduct. A player who had repeatedly attracted attention through rough handling (or other unsportsmanlike conduct) was admonished or cautioned by the referee, which was not recognisable to the spectators. However, it was clear that the player was being unsporting. He was subsequently booed. He broke the rules, he behaved badly, he kicked badly, he wasted time, and that was simply acknowledged with whistles.
Today it seems to me (and is sometimes expressed as such) that the yellow card is part of the rule. Everything was correct in this game situation. A bad foul, that has to be punished with a yellow. The referee also showed a yellow card, everything according to the rules. Now the game continues. No whistle from a spectator, no nothing. Part of the rule. Bad foul, tactical foul, yellow card. All correct. Play on.
Do you understand? The unsportsmanlike conduct becomes part of the rule through the correct punishment. It is then no longer unsporting behaviour at all, it is forgotten.
All right, it’s hard to understand. I want the times back because you don’t want to see unsporting behaviour. The spectators don’t accept it. When Stefan Effenberg once again says: “Yes, as captain you have to intervene, get a yellow, so that the others wake up”, then he should be booed for that and not have his hat doffed. That was a violation of the rules, Mr Effenberg. We don’t want to see any nasty kicks! Better lose with decency then. That’s the way it is!
The media also play their part here. Don’t always just say: We have to win, no matter how. Or: In a few weeks, no one will ask how the victory came about. But, please, ask. And realise. It was messy, unpleasant, it broke the rules, we don’t want winners like that.
13) The back-pass rule
I still remember well the introduction of the back-pass rule. The 1994 World Cup in the USA was just around the corner. The Yanks wanted a faster, more exciting game with more action and more goals. They had proposed various rule changes. This back-pass rule was introduced. The second: the instruction was issued to the assistants to “give the striker the benefit of the doubt in the event of an offside decision”.
I have already discussed the offside in detail. There is no longer any doubt. Every decision is made against the striker. Afterwards you can discuss whether this time it was right (then it’s: “Good eye. It was a hair’s breadth.”) or wrong (then it’s: “Oh, that was very close, but he was wrong here.”). Question: what does that have to do with the quality of the eyes? The flag is up. You can argue. It’s a built-in reflex. Flag up when it’s close! You always get away with it (“As close as it always is. Who wants to be right all the time? No reproach to the man.”).
By the way, it worked out quite well at the World Cup. There were many goals and great, fast games, simply great, exciting football. It was worth tuning in, guaranteed. It only taught me how quickly the Yanks would make football attractive. And my conviction holds true today more than ever….
Now then, to the other rule: the back-pass rule. I didn’t yet know what it would bring and what I would think of it. But I soon formed an opinion. First of all, I would like to emphasise that the rule makes perfect sense if interpreted and applied correctly. You should see a full-length match played before the rule was introduced. The goalkeeper sometimes gets the ball 10 times in a row and just picks it up. He throws it away again, the player thrown at gets into trouble, plays it back to the keeper, who picks it up again, throws it to the other side, ad infinitum (by the way, do you know who was leading in my little scenario description??).
My theories now finally on the rule: I was at a football match in the stadium shortly after the rule was introduced. Hertha – Wuppertal, 2nd league. A player from Wuppertal got the ball in great difficulty, rather it was a kind of rebound, the ball rolled back to the goalkeeper, who picked up the ball. The referee gave an indirect free kick. It was converted and the game ended 1:0 for Hertha.
But my first thought was: How was the goalkeeper supposed to know that the referee would consider this action a back pass? It was definitely not a back pass. The ball was only last on the leg of a defender. But the decision stood.
I thought the rule was absurd, unworkable, not only because of this story. My theory (or statement) is this: theoretically, immediately after the last player to have touched the ball has left the field, i.e. when the ball is on its way towards the goalkeeper, the referee should raise his hand to indicate: “That’s a backpass, goalkeeper. Don’t pick up the ball or you’ll get a free kick.” You already realise that this is simply absurd, unworkable. The idea of the rule is good, the feasibility is actually not given. A bit like offside. You can’t do without, but with is always decided wrongly (and always against the attackers).
The second observation I made, by the way, was that a goalkeeper who is not allowed to pick up the ball (but none of the players involved can “know” this because it is not indicated) is harassed by a striker. Many tried to exploit this at the time. The goalkeeper frantically knocks the ball forward. The ball lands with another attacker. He heads the ball forward again, for example, simply because it is the most natural direction and sometimes there is no other way. The striker who lost the ball is of course offside. That often happened in the past, too. That had also made it a little absurd for me. You can cause a ball loss through the new rule, but you can’t profit from it. But this fear has not been confirmed. Today, too much is about possession. The goalkeeper who plays the ball forward uncontrolled and under pressure has simply (very often) lost the ball for his team. You don’t even try to profit directly. You have the ball, that’s the reward.
But there was one more situation that had always bothered me, and I had never really experienced it in its original form. First of all, I will describe this situation in the game:
A defender plays the ball, pressed or unpressed, back to his goalkeeper. But the pass is inaccurate, the ball goes past the goalkeeper and rolls towards the goal line. The goalkeeper has only one chance to stop it from crossing his own goal line: He has to stop it with his hand. What would the referee decide? I would like to see it. But I assume he would let play continue. Reason: there is nothing in the rule for inaccurate back passes. An inaccurate back pass is not really a back pass at all. The ball simply rolls somewhere across the pitch. Since it is in the penalty area, the goalkeeper is of course allowed to pick it up. As I said, I’m still waiting for that. And I could even imagine the goalkeepers suddenly reacting the wrong way in a certain panic. In other words, the goalkeeper might “forget” that he could take the ball in his hand if necessary (even if an indirect free kick would follow; it wouldn’t be as bad as a goal), he would try to clear it with his foot and concede a goal. Possibly. But since I have never seen the situation in real life in this pure form (probably I have seen a defender make a straddle back, the ball even flies, the goalkeeper too, and towards the ball, and holds it. Logically, what the consequence was: play on) I’m going to assume that I gave it more importance than it has.
But who doesn’t remember the 2001 season finale, when Schalke were German champions for four and a half minutes. The fact that they were already celebrating because of a false report of the final whistle in Hamburg is one part of the tragedy. The other part was this: A Hamburg defender played the ball back towards the goalkeeper (but in distress!) from 10 metres. The goalkeeper thought nothing of it. The ball was also played extremely imprecisely, i.e. far past the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper dived for the ball to prevent a corner (he could also have reached it with his foot and manoeuvred it in for a throw-in, as was recommended by all sides afterwards). The referee ruled it a back pass. Indirect free kick in the penalty area. The 1:1 by Andersson, with the last action of the entire season.
My only comment here is this: I have not consulted the Sat1 database. But I could well imagine that it was the only decision of the whole season on “incorrect back pass, to be punished with indirect free kick”. Who can look that up? Or are there no statistics on this? But if it was, then the scale of the tragedy really becomes clear. The only time a referee decides on a back pass is the last action of the whole season. And that decides the championship. The goalkeeper really couldn’t have expected that. That makes such a whistle absurd in a completely different way.
Finally, I can say what role the rule plays today: As in 2001, it is never whistled. But that is not due to absolutely correct compliance with the rule. It’s because the goalkeepers simply make the decision with their action whether they are allowed to receive this ball or not. It simply goes like this: if the goalkeeper picks up the ball, it was not a back pass.
You can think about it for a moment. Think about it for a moment: he would be stupid to pick it up if it was a back pass, wouldn’t he? So the signal to the referee is: “Mr. Referee, look, that was not a back pass. That’s why I’m picking up the ball.” The ref accepts. Sometimes the goalkeeper accompanies his action with a small gesture towards the referee and moves his index finger back and forth: “That wasn’t one. Did you see?”
14) Throw-in – where?
I also remember these times very well. Except that I don’t need much memory for that. If only because all those children playing together so merrily are allowed to dance on the table again today. But one thing after the other:
There was once a time when the staggering of metres at the throw-in became too conspicuous. The throw-ins ran further and further forward because they still hadn’t found a suitable team-mate. Sometimes 10 or even more metres were “wasted”. At some point, the officials noticed this. They changed the rules. From now on, the throw-in had to be taken exactly at the point where the ball crossed the line. If the thrower did not keep to this, the throw-in was wrong and the other side was awarded the throw-in.
Makes perfect sense, in my opinion. It is quite clear that the players usually know exactly where the ball went out. That’s where it has to be thrown in again. This rule has existed since football was invented. The innovation here: If you don’t follow it, you lose the right to throw it in completely. Before the change, he was only asked by the referee to repeat the throw-in. Accordingly, the “shifting” of the throw-in position was done without risk.
What have been the consequences of this new rule over the years?
The players start climbing on the chair. So they start taking the throw-in a single metre further forward. Wouldn’t it be really petty to accuse them of an offence and award the throw-in to the opponent? So the one metre is legalised, accepted within the rules.
So soon they will try it with two metres. One is already legal, so the newly added one would also be legal? So the one becomes two and the two become three, very gradually. And after letting one team get away with it the first time, suddenly you can’t punish the other? And then in the next game? No, you can’t. So this rule has effectively been abolished.
It was never punished again. I don’t remember a single throw-in in the last 10 years (oh yes, there was one!) that was awarded to the opposing team because of the wrong position of execution. Yet it should be almost every one!
15) The advantage rule
This is also such a curious rule (interpretation), which, on closer inspection, simply cannot be understood, and which, in the search for a more comprehensible name, should actually be renamed the “disadvantage rule”. A few game situations should be briefly described:
In England, I once saw a game from the second highest division, when shortly before the end the team (FC Burnley), which was trailing 1-2, entered the penalty area, the player with the ball (his name: Ade Akinbyi) was clearly and recognisably fouled, but he nevertheless fought his way through, struggled to stay on his feet and still wanted to put the ball into the goal. The goalkeeper, however, just managed to deflect the shot and the whistle was blown shortly afterwards. The player who had been fouled a moment before crept towards the dressing room, but passed his coach, who looked rather cross and gave him some even crosser words to say. I knew immediately what he was telling him. I translate freely: “You idiot. Next time you drop, we’ll get penalties and save a point.”
Of course, this little episode also fits in with the theme of “fair play”. Theoretically, the referee and also the whole world should consider behaviour as honourable and fair when a player tries to continue playing despite being fouled. It would even have to be an indication that he had actually been fouled, compared to the person who, even with a minor touch, wants to draw the referee’s attention to the foul play by falling down theatrically, combined with a scream. The fact is, however, that the behaviour is not rewarded and is thus to be classified as “misconduct” in the sense of the team’s success. Fair play is out, cleverness and good acting are called for.
But since we are on the subject of “advantage”, the big question in this context is how the referee himself would comment on the scene. If I were a player on the losing team and asked the referee why he didn’t give the penalty (God forbid! I’d get a yellow!) and he answered: “Why a penalty? I let the advantage go”, then I would want to ram him and his whistle into the ground without being pointed. Because: I know quite well what an advantage is. And it wasn’t one, because the ball wasn’t in and we lost the game.
b. Marek Mintal
This scene was also much discussed at the time, but the result of the discussions was, as always in my opinion, pointless, even wrong. Marek Mintal had come free in front of the Leverkusen goal in the last second, the score was 1:2, Nuremberg was in danger of relegation, every point was important (season 2007/2008; Nuremberg was relegated at the end). He was clearly and recognisably fouled. He struggled to keep his feet, much like Akinbyi, and got a shot on goal. The ball grazed the post and went out of bounds from there. Everyone agreed that it was a foul play. What should he have done? Hans Meyer, then coach at Nuremberg, commented on the scene thus: “Next time, I’ll tell him to fall down.” Somehow the term “advantage” is somewhat misunderstood, in my opinion. Was the advantage for the striker that, hindered by an obvious foul, he was still able to shoot, albeit from a much more awkward position and body position? The advantage, then, that the referee did not “prevent” him from taking his shot by blowing his whistle? The advantage clearly went to the defence, which conceded no goal and no caution as reward for the foul play, but instead went home with a whopping three points.
c. St. Pauli – MSV Duisburg, 2:2
Absolutely curious the discussions about this referee’s decision: It was injury time at the game, the score was 1:2, St.Pauli pushed for the equalizer, had a few good scenes, already before. Now chaos had broken out in the Duisburg penalty area, which could not clear the ball. A striker of FC St.Pauli got the ball almost unchallenged and was about to shoot when he was prevented from doing so by a foul. Tom Starke, the goalkeeper of Duisburg, held the shot with a reflex and deflected it to the crossbar. The rebound fell on the lap of another St.Pauli attacker, who shot from 5 metres, but the ball went over the goal. Of course, the whole thing happened in a fraction of a second. The reflex, the ball hitting the crossbar, the rebound, the follow-up shot, and — the referee’s whistle. What did he decide? He pointed to the spot! Penalty for Pauli, 2:2, the final whistle.
A completely correct decision. Finally a referee who interpreted it the way it can only be interpreted. It was a foul, clearly recognisable, a panic reaction with a tackle, the shot still blocked, the follow-up shot over, penalty. What else could it have been? It wasn’t a goal, but it was a foul. I would also concede to the referee that it was not an “interpretation of the rules” on his part (as I demanded), but that there was simply a time delay that “overcame” the scene. He mentally decided on penalties, brought the whistle to his mouth, and blew. The fact that a few other things had already happened in the meantime is only a “side note”. If the ball had been in, he might also have decided on a penalty without noticing the goal.
So it was not the scene itself that was curious, but the subsequent discussions. Tom Starke, the goalkeeper, got very angry. He was of the opinion that the referee had given St.Pauli “two clear advantage situations”, full of fervour, his fervour. First the shot, then even the follow-up shot. “He had never seen or experienced anything like that before.” Apparently he was invoking the rulebook (which I don’t know)? I don’t know, I just know that he must have felt somehow that the ref, even if only in a moral sense, had ruled “correctly”. It was a huge chance to score that was prevented by a foul. The rules guarantee a penalty for that. And there was one.
d. Chelsea – Liverpool
I would like to show that it can be done differently with the following example. The basic prerequisite for understanding my assessment of the scene is, however, that you basically accept my argument that the referees are “afraid of goals” and that they are therefore entitled to use almost any means to prevent a goal. The fear comes from the fact that a goal causes a huge shift in the distribution of chances, while a non-goal causes no shift at all (of course, this is only virtual; if a correct shift is prevented, the effect is the same, but perceived not to be). The fear is also not directly the fear of the goal, but rather the fear of the “incorrect” goal. So if afterwards the losing team (it may also be the media) can prove that a goal was wrongly recognised, then the excitement is great. A goal that is not awarded causes little or no stir. Those who complain about it “distract from their own mistakes” and “always look for the referees to blame instead of themselves”. That’s just the way it is. So it is better to disallow a goal where there is even the slightest doubt as to its correctness.
With this in mind, I will describe the following scene: It was the second leg in the quarter-finals of the 2008/2009 Champions League season. Liverpool had lost the first leg at home against Chelsea 1:3. So it was almost impossible for them to get further. They would need at least 3 goals to have a chance. However, they had already scored 0:1 after 20 minutes, the lead. They still needed two goals. Then a free kick came long kicked into the Chelsea penalty area. The usual clinging, pulling and tugging at all sorts of jerseys (in which the attackers usually come out the losers; the ref conveniently decides on a striker’s foul even before the ball is that far forward), but the ball still gets through to Skrtel, who is completely alone and free in front of the goalkeeper. He was also absolutely not in an offside position, as the ball was travelling for a very long time and the attackers ran into it first. The assistant had the flag down. Skrtel took the ball, but in the meantime heard a whistle from the referee. Whether that was why he shot the ball over the goal from three metres remains to be seen. In any case, he threw his hands up in horror. Whether his bewilderment was due to the fact that he had not put the ball in the goal from that distance or whether it was due to the referee’s whistle, which he simply could not believe because he assumed, as usual, that he was being chalked off for offside or some other offence he had not committed, remains to be seen. But when he looked around and saw the referee’s reaction, he suddenly cheered. The referee had given a penalty kick. It was converted, the score was 0:2, and Liverpool only needed one more goal to advance. The game was really exhilarating. Liverpool even managed to score two more goals and — were eliminated. Because Chelsea had also scored 4 goals in the meantime. Result 4:4, Liverpool out. Winner: football.
I have provided parts of the interpretation of the scene both before and in the description of the scene. Nevertheless, here is the decisive interpretation: I saw the scene and know for sure that the whistle blew when the ball landed in front of Skrtel, i.e. before the (mis)shot was taken. The referee had seen no other way to prevent a goal than to blow the whistle now. Because this chance simply could not be missed. The fact that the replay clearly confirms that another attacker was fouled in violation of the rules (he was recognisably pulled to the ground), so that the penalty was considered thoroughly justified, does not change my statement. Because: Hundreds of other scenes have also already proven clear offences by the defenders, all of which were NOT penalised. So that it was penalised here was solely due to the fact that the attackers had created an even greater goal-scoring opportunity WITHOUT the penalty.
e. My suggestion
Again, I cannot dismiss the reader from this section without offering my suggestions. They are simple, logical and easily implementable. On top of that, they are always aimed at one goal: More goals, more excitement, more action, more fans, more justice.
Everyone can see what an advantage is. And if the defender has the advantage, it is very easy to recognise: No goal is scored. For the striker, there is always “a mountain to climb” in order to actually score a goal. For the defender it is often enough to “put him slightly off balance”. And then there is no more chance of a successful goal. Football should remain a game with physical play. But give the strikers a chance. So: if a striker is fouled and the referee recognises it, he should have the chance to score the goal honestly. But if he doesn’t succeed, then the supposed advantage was no advantage at all. Then he still gets the free kick or the penalty. What’s wrong with that? In ice hockey, the rule has been applied successfully since time immemorial. Is the edge of your plate so high that you can’t even look beyond it? Simple, logical, applicable and most importantly: there are more goals. And even fair play is not neglected.
16) Goalkeeper in the penalty area: is he allowed to take a hand if the ball is inside or if the feet are inside?
Another absurdity that, as far as I know, no one has ever addressed. It is the issue of “handball by the goalkeeper outside(?) the penalty area.” I know that virtually everyone would have an answer ready immediately and spontaneously. I also know that my views on this will certainly be classified as at least “ill-considered”. But I wouldn’t raise the issue here if I hadn’t at least already given it some thought. In addition, I have even studied the rules and they have not provided me with any information about it.
I now ask the question: Where is the goalkeeper allowed to take the ball in his hand? Well, simple question, simple answer. In the penalty area, you knucklehead. Now it’s the same here as in other situations. Which authority clarifies the facts in borderline situations? The ball or the goalkeeper’s body? Is it even the hands? Well, here too I expect a relatively clear and unambiguous answer: you may or may very well say: the ball, that’s obvious. Perhaps someone else will also say, perhaps equally, perhaps a little less convinced: “Well, the body.”
But one thing is certain: I have seen scenes for both possible interpretations of the rules. And I have a fairly simple theory. It is: either the body is in the penalty area, or the ball is in the penalty area. Even here, I have found an even more far-reaching interpretation of the rules: theoretically, it is sufficient if the ball just touches the line when viewed from the inside, i.e. if it is at most far outside, but could therefore still be considered “inside”. The question that follows: Why actually? Another very daring theory is that the referees themselves do not know what is important. Well, I will describe one or two game situations to you as proof.
A goalkeeper jumps off inside the penalty area and boxes a ball over an attacker out of the danger zone. I have seen this many times. The goalkeeper would, as a matter of course, point out that he had started his defensive action inside the penalty area (comparable to volleyball). The referee would let the ball go anyway.
I have also seen the following scene many times: An attacker tries to run down a pass. The goalkeeper rushes towards him. The goalkeeper realises that he may still be able to reach the ball inside his own sixteen and pick it up with his hand. The ball bounces, the goalkeeper waits inside his penalty area. However, the goalkeeper has to stretch both arms forward to reach the ball before the striker. He is scrupulously careful to keep his feet inside his penalty area, but his arms reach forward, not infrequently reaching outside the penalty area. The referee’s decision is indisputable: play on. Without discussion.
There is also some evidence for the other interpretation of the rule. Alternative situation: A goalkeeper has been caught outside his penalty area, a duel, a running duel. But the ball is inside the penalty area. The goalkeeper realises that he can reach the ball with his hands. He lunges at the ball from outside the penalty area, buries it under him. The feet are outside, the ball is inside: the referee’s decision? No question: play on.
But one thing is certain: at least one of the two actions must have been a handball. Or else, the rule is as I have formulated it. Either body or ball. I think that’s out of the question. But if it were, I would simply change it. To either or.
I would also like to discuss a game situation in this context: the tee shots. That is, those from the hand. These, comparable to throw-ins, are actually always wrong. First of all, the goalkeepers very often run over the line with the ball anyway. A question here again about the violation of the rules: Would it be enough, if it were about the feet, if one foot just touches the line when leaving it? And again, there are two types of leaving: goalkeeper penalty area and ball-hand. And if so, why actually? Why always concede advantages to the goalkeepers? But if they don’t, they carry it with their hands in front of their body, so the ball is guaranteed to still be in their hands, but already outside the penalty area. About the statistics: number of incorrectly executed and penalised goal kicks in the 500 most recent football matches I watched live: 0. Exactly 0. All goal kicks are correct. In principle. No matter who crossed the line when and how and where. “Well, you’re being petty.” But for me it’s all about: Does anyone know the correct rule? Does it even exist? What is it? And if so, is it being applied? If not, why is it not formulated? And if it is formulated or already exists, why is it not formulated in a way that is less favourable to the goalkeepers? The goalkeepers already have enough advantages, and there’s already enough 0:0. So: Simply make it more difficult for the goalkeepers. And don’t let the goalkeepers get away with everything. Whistle a free kick against the goalkeeper from time to time.
17) Absurd penalty situation at Hoffenheim against Bochum
It was the game Hoffenheim – VfL Bochum in the 2008/2009 season. A Hoffenheim player entered the penalty area on the far outside. He outplayed the opponent with a skilful trick. The ball came to rest on the byline, stopped by the Hoffenheimer. The defender had not foreseen this action and smoothly pushed the Hoffenheimer over, so that he could not make further use of the ball lying on the byline. The action happened quite clearly outside the pitch. I watched the game and immediately shouted indignantly, “Penalty!” The referee heard me and blew his whistle. It was a penalty. For me, the only correct decision.
The ensuing discussions, however, once again confirmed my overall impression: I really am an exotic to think something like that is correct. The referee justified his decision with the absurd reasoning that he had been of the opinion that the foul play had just started on the line and therefore it would have been correct.
If, however, I had been allowed to justify my decision with my half-knowledge and limited intellect, I would have laughed at all the rules commissions once again, would also have given the penalty and would have unreservedly admitted that the action had taken place outside the pitch. Well, as a referee I would have either been removed from circulation for such ignorance of the rules and proven stupidity or ordered to take the “idiot test for referees”. But there, too, I would have once again underpinned the correctness of my decision.
The resourceful reporters had already found out at half-time that the penalty was the wrong decision. Because the rules clearly state that a prerequisite for a penalty-worthy foul play is that the action takes place “inside the pitch”. I assume in principle that the gentlemen did not think of such a special case at the moment of the notation of this rule.
You may remember the situation, also from the Bundesliga recently, when a defender came to rest during his action outside the field of play, but the attacker who then pushed the ball into the goal would have been considered offside in the case that the defender outside the field of play would NOT have been considered an additional opponent. The referee, however, in my opinion and also in the opinion of the media, correctly did not consider this to be the case and the goal was awarded. For me, this is also quite clear: the defenders would otherwise have an additional means of the “offside trap” at their disposal, if they could simply put a striker offside by briefly leaving the field of play. Imagine: A defender sees the deadly pass coming, but instead of going towards the striker and thus trying to prevent the worst, he briefly takes a step backwards, the pass comes, the referee decides it is offside. Absurdly simple.
It is similar with the offside situation in which two attackers rush towards the goalkeeper, without opponents, and the ball leading, as the goalkeeper comes towards him, passes across to the other attacker at the last moment, plays the ball forward recognisably in motion, but the second attacker is behind the ball at the moment of the pass. In this case, he has “played the ball forward”, as is forbidden by the rule, but this is not to be punished as offside, since it is the position of the teammate and not the direction of the ball.
Accordingly, in the penalty situation described by Hoffenheim, I would interpret the rule in such a way that the action took place inside the field of play, since obviously THE BALL was inside. In this respect, a clear penalty for me.
By the way, what came a little too short for me in the subsequent discussion was the consideration of which decision would have been “correct”. The question was not even asked. It was only stated that the penalty was a wrong decision. What should the referee have whistled? I then indulged in wild speculation about what the answer of those who had dug out the subtlety of the rule would have been. My final version was this: Free kick outside the field of play. And when it’s taken, it’s a goal kick because the ball is clearly out of bounds. After all, what are we Germans for? Everything has to be in order. A sense of justice is not given to us with our mother’s milk, but is obviously and deliberately “deprived of it beforehand”.