Football today – like the emperor’s new clothes
Football has the potential to be the greatest sport in the world. In large part because of its simplicity. Anywhere in the world, the game can be played with virtually no effort. A ball is all that is needed. No other equipment required. Whether barefoot or in patent leather shoes, in a backyard, on a green field in the Part, across the play street, on the beach, on a specially constructed playground, even with goals or actually on a real football pitch: it is hardly a hurdle.
Likewise, the number of players required is hardly a limiting condition. Indeed, you can play it from one to twenty-two, and should more turn up, you make teams. This distinguishes football from a multitude of other games, which often require either a certain number, a certain playground, a certain equipment, and this serves as a limitation that it is played much less. A brief selection of sports may be mentioned: Table tennis, tennis, volleyball, ice hockey, handball or handball: for all these you already have to plan, create conditions, go to a certain place, have certain equipment with you. Great games, but nowhere near as widespread as football, because of these conditions.
In that sense, you wouldn’t have to worry about football?! Well, maybe not in the sense that it would no longer be played at some point. But in the sense of the supposedly gigantic business of professional football.
It is precisely at this point that the comparison with “the emperor’s new clothes” seems more and more appropriate. The emperor wore nothing at all, and yet the entire nation had to marvel at his clothes. No one dared to whisper, perhaps secretly, to his neighbour: “Do you see what I see? The emperor has nothing on at all?” He had to fear being declared mad. Everyone kept it to himself, infected by the mass illusion. That’s exactly how professional football is: there’s nothing about it any more that might once have given you pleasure. And no one dares to say so.
This is in fact an observation that has been confirmed many times: actually, everyone can feel that it is a sick business from top to bottom, that the game is sick in itself. There are hardly any goal scenes and goals, you only see fouls, often with injuries, you experience permanent injustices, which everyone explains in their own way, the experts and media also discuss but find no answers and no solutions, you only see whistling fans, You only see whistling fans who like to vent their displeasure in other ways, and here pyrotechnics might even be the most harmless version. You also only hear and see players and coaches, managers and other people in charge chasing demands and expectations and being dissatisfied, tormented by unpleasant questions from reporters. There is not even real jubilation any more, the joy of a beautiful game, the sympathy for an unhappy loser, true emotions of passion, actually fair gestures, on or off the pitch, true friendships, club loyalty, true identification, the renunciation of an advantage, just like that, in the sense of real fair play, truths, honesty. There is nothing left. Everyone feels it – no one speaks out.
That is why the grievances should be mentioned here. All lined up, brought together, what everyone feels, what everyone nevertheless explains to himself in his own way.
It may start or have started with everyone chasing the round leather. In the schoolyard, on the football pitch, in the courtyard or in the park, with friends or acquaintances, just a bit of football. Wonderful. It’s fun and everyone would have followed the rules as a matter of course and, above all, would have intuitively not fouled the opponent.
If you go to the stadium for the first time, it might be because you’ve been invited, because a friend is going, because your father is going. Maybe it’s curiosity at the very beginning to see what big football looks like in real life. But now the first little problem begins: you are almost forced to focus your passion on a certain club. Either you become a fan, usually of the home team, or you stay away in future. Almost no one returns as a friend of the beautiful game of football. Because it is neither beautiful nor fair.
However, as soon as one has declared oneself a supporter, any outrage about an observed injustice, about unfairness, about unpleasantness, about a foul or a swallow, about a wrong offside or a wrongly disallowed goal is subsequently interpreted as a consequence of partiality. Objectivity is denied. The true fan is a true fan and sees whatever happens through the club’s own glasses. He feels that he and his team are being disadvantaged. In this respect, his voice “something is wrong” is worth nothing.
The fan is also a loyal supporter of his team. In this respect, he suffers with them, he travels with them, he buys the new jersey every season, he equips himself with many other fan articles. Whether he loves the game itself, whether he even seriously watches the game itself? Already an open question. Being a fan itself is already a cult. It is recognised everywhere. It’s just that meaningful thinking is already denied. Full identification means: you do everything for the club, you go through thick and thin, you may suffer more than you can rejoice because your expectations are usually set too high from home, but in return you can savour the joy of a victory even more. The fans have actually been celebrating themselves for a long time. They do not celebrate the game of football. At the same time, however, almost the entire population financing the business consists only of fans. And not fans of the game of football but all fans of their team. They don’t like the game either. They hardly ever watch it. But they are fans. They meet for an event, not for a football match and certainly not for the joy of the game or the joy of watching it. People live out their emotions, that may still be true, but in the overwhelming majority the negative ones are addressed and, to that extent, acted out.
It is indeed one of the problems, which, however, has neither been recognised nor addressed by the so-and-so-so-called experts. The spectator on whom the business is based is a fan of a team, with all its consequences. The neutral spectator, the friend of the game of football, no longer exists.
If, for example, the pay TV channel Sky, which has invested hundreds of millions for the rights, wants to find a subscriber, then it can only be one who wants to watch the games of his own team. Just watch a Bundesliga match? Who would do that? No chances, no goals, many, many fouls and even more annoying injustices. Why would anyone do that? No wonder then: Sky is not doing well. They have acquired a shopaholic and they know little else about marketing, but even if they did: it might already be too late.
If the broadcaster were to live up to its responsibility to present football well in the media, to orient itself to the needs of the viewer, to clarify actual grievances, to do something worthy of justice here and there, then perhaps one day it might succeed in gaining a few more subscribers?
Another grievance that has already been addressed is precisely this: viewers are not asked what they would like to see. The aforementioned problem is already upstream: first, one is forced to become a fan, but exactly after this has happened, one is incapacitated. “What would you like to see? Yes, we already know: victories for your team.” Beautiful games, excitement, action, goal scenes, goals, fair play, justice? None of that, not a topic any more. Victories for your team. But we in the media have specified that, too. So even there, the fan would have no choice of freedom of opinion: “I like to see a nice game with some goals. I root for my team. I also suffer with them when they lose. But suffering is also part of it and doesn’t bother me that much if the rules are respected. A dirty victory for my team? No, I don’t want to see that! Mostly it means: the rules used to our advantage. No fair play, time play, a defensive battle? No, that’s no fun. They should play forward and try to score a few goals. If the opponent succeeds better: okay and congratulations to them. Maybe it will work out for us next week?”
The view taken here is that the spectator does not have to be a fan to enjoy the game of football. If you were to ask the neutral spectator what he would like to watch, he would first have to answer: “But I don’t watch. Not by choice.” “Good, then the question is rephrased: under what circumstances would you watch a game?”
“Good, I can answer that. I would watch if it was fair. Constant fouls are ugly. Players get injured and the flow of the game is interrupted. There should be lots of chances, on both sides, and there should be goals more often. It’s fun when you’re neutral. Then it should be fair. So a penalty given here and denied there, an offside wrongly recognised as such here and not recognised there, that’s annoying and no fun. Time play is about the worst thing there is. You can’t stand it when players are constantly lying on the ground and seem to need treatment and are always wearing the same jersey of the team that is leading at the moment, no, you can’t watch that.”
However, if a spectator is a fan, he could still have his own view of what he wants to see in his own team’s game. Whether a defeat would hurt him or whether he could bear it, whether he would perhaps assess the scenes of the game differently on the basis of the wishful thinking that it would happen in favour of his own team. But this spectator would only be a fan of a team if it played at all. In the many other games where the team does not participate, he would not only be welcome as a spectator, but could probably agree in advance with the opinion: it’s fun when goals are scored and it’s fair and so on. Consequently, EVERY spectator would perhaps be a fan from time to time, but much more often he himself would be the neutral spectator so universally missed, but urgently needed for business preservation.
To summarise: the neutral spectator would have to be won back for the game. To do this, one would first have to ask him what he would like to see so that he would watch. He would definitely choose that it would be a lot of goals and otherwise fair – to pick out the central points.
One could only ask why no one has yet come up with something so simple. It is always the same problem: the apparent size of football seems to prohibit any such considerations. Football is already big, so there is no need to think about or even question the spectator. Especially since we think we know what they want to see: victories. For his team.
The answer to this thought, which has lasted for decades, about the lack of a need to orient oneself to the spectator: it is five to twelve. The spectators are leaving in droves. The few spectators mentioned may have remained, but even among those, resentment is stirring, in all directions.
Another problem is that penalties for breaking the rules are in no way intended to demotivate a repetition of the same. Foul play is part of the game, it seems to be argued…! Why would this be so? Any game – with the possibility of transferring it to “real life” or even “road traffic” – only works if everyone abides by the rules. Should sinners be found: one tries to find a punishment that has a deterrent effect. “Don’t do that. Otherwise you will harm yourself.” In football, one would have to add: “Otherwise you will harm yourself and your team”.
Should we today take an almost arbitrary foul play and examine to what extent the team committing the foul or the team accepting the foul benefits from it? There may be a balance, unless – according to the view expressed here – the team committing the foul benefits more often. However, a balance – sometimes this team benefits, sometimes that team – would ultimately not be a fair balance. Because for the player aiming at a foul, planning a foul, executing a foul, it would only mean: do it or don’t do it. No difference.
In the final analysis, it wouldn’t matter whether you fouled or not. Neither advantage nor disadvantage. And this cannot possibly be in the sense of justice.
A punishment for an offence must always be such that, if possible, one does not see a repetition. That must be the goal. A potential offender, a sinner, a rule-breaking player would necessarily have to come off badly, come off with disadvantage, be admonished by teammates, not commended. “Good thing you knocked that one down. At least we didn’t concede a goal.”
This is symbolised by a term alone, which relentlessly exposes the absurdity without the person who created the term being aware of it. It is a revealing term – if you look closely enough.
The term in question is the so-called “tactical foul”. Anyone committing such a foul could unfortunately only answer so honestly to the question “why did you do it?”: “I wanted to help my team.” One question would actually have to precede and follow. The one to follow would be: “Did it work?” To which the sinner would have to admit, albeit with a blush on his face, “I did get a yellow card, as it says in the rules, but nevertheless my team-mates patted me on the back in the dressing room with the words ‘well done. You saved us the win.'”
The preceding question should have been, “But you knew that foul play was forbidden by the rules?” This question might cause perplexity — as it does with the reader here — but it can only be answered honestly with, “Yes, so what?”
It would be comparable to a person stealing an elderly lady’s handbag and having to return it as punishment. However, he would probably have spent some of the money he found beforehand. In other words: he has profited, even in the very worst case.
Another such unword is the word “time game”. If one translates exactly what the one who “plays time games” does, it sounds something like this: “I use illegal means to buy some time and thus bring my team closer to victory.”
The admission is made. You play for time because you are in the lead and would like to ensure victory. The “legality” of this comes primarily from the fact that no one does anything about it and at the same time that one knows exactly that the opponent would not do otherwise if he had the result on his side. But that does not make it legal. Especially not insofar as it is very easy to recognise. A throw-in is not taken, a goal kick drags on forever, a player rolls on the ground injured, but jumps up again a short time later and shows no more signs of injury. Above all: a substitution is made, preferably in injury time. The paradox is that they obviously want to avoid the extra time that would be added if they did it BEFORE the end of the ninety minutes and the display of the extra minutes. In other words, the one minute spent on substitutions is completely saved in this way. But everyone would have noticed this. If those responsible for the rules wanted to avoid this, then they would not add ONE additional minute, but analogous to the penalty for a foul, which would have to be given in order to permanently eliminate foul play, they would have to add TWO minutes.
One must always take into account that the fans watching the game are likely to neutralise each other as far as passion is concerned – which does not mean that it would be fair, let alone that there would be no aggressive attacks – but the neutral spectator himself has long since turned away and just shakes his head. “What’s the point of that? You can’t watch any more.” And he doesn’t. He simply doesn’t watch. But the neutral spectator is precisely the one who should be won back, because he could make a much greater contribution than the few fans of this or that team who may be outnumbered in the future.
1) Football as a pure fan sport
2) The emperor’s new clothes
3) The spectator would have the right to decide what he wants to see.
4) Reclaiming the neutral spectator
5) The level of punishment. As in road traffic and in the legal code, it should be designed to eliminate rule violations – but it does NOT do so in football. Punishment as a reward?
6) The tactical foul
7) Time play
8) The penalty whistle anomaly
9) The injustice inherent in the game
10) The fear of goal-favouring wrong decisions
11) Penalty is the wrong decision
12) The offside problem
13) Swallows – defender or striker makes them?
14) The “pure results sport” made into it by the media
15) The defensive thinking, against goals, of players, coaches, reporters and especially referees. “Just no goal” or “just no goal scene”, then things get tricky.
16) The three-point rule
17) What is an advantage?
Every single point has probably not yet been mentioned in this form, generally unknown, not discussed, attention given to it at most once, but never in the larger context. This should be established here with the intention of making football exciting, entertaining, fair and just again and thus accessible to everyone. All in all, the alarm signals are highly worrying, quite different from “the very big and ever-growing business” could be a bubble and, similar to a stock market crash, the big collapse could be imminent if these alarm signals are not correctly understood, interpreted and acted upon.
If ever there is talk of changes, they are always presented so vividly and simply that one can easily follow them. Even if they have not yet been heard in this form.
In general, one might add that the individual points and proposals addressed in this way, precisely because they are not yet known in this form, meet with a spontaneous defensive reaction. One would have long since … if there were anything to it. Nevertheless, the study should be worthwhile.
At least this much should be said about the author in advance: a true devotee of football since early childhood, who nevertheless always kept an eye on the emperor’s lack of clothing and spoke out openly. For him, however, the devotion really refers to the game of football and not of a club or a national team.
Not only did he follow football from an early age and observe it intensively, but he also compiled statistics at all times, which were very in-depth and which often brought to light findings that differed from those otherwise found. In the course of time, he developed models for predicting the probability of match outcomes and made this his profession, using these models to be successful on the betting market for over thirty years as a gambler and not as a provider.
The combination of his passions – being a true follower of the game coupled with the career choice of being a professional gambler – forced him to be absolutely objective, which thus differentiates him from the majority of people who are themselves in the professional business, in various roles, but also from the spectators who otherwise have to finance football. This is simply a matter of giving weight to his statements.
Let’s briefly go over the individual problem points:
1) Football as a pure fan sport
The problem here is that you have to be a fan of a team to watch matches. You don’t watch football because it’s a beautiful, fair, exciting, just and entertaining game, but because you want to see your team win. Not recognised as a problem, but worth mentioning. Especially in connection with point 3), that there are virtually no neutral spectators left who are there for the sheer joy of the game.
2) The emperor’s new clothes
There is a lot to suggest that a lot of people are dissatisfied with football and its nature, the commercialisation, the development of the rules, the tension in the game, the lack of fair play, the reporting, and have actually realised that it may have been nice and fun once, but this is only based on reminiscences. People still watch out of tradition, but not out of true enthusiasm. The emperor has no clothes on at all – but everyone must be amazed and no one dares to speak the truth. He is naked, he has nothing on at all, just as football is simply no fun any more, but everyone pretends it is….
3) The spectator would have to decide what he wants to see.
We have already talked about the fan. They may still have their importance and be important for football and keep it alive. However, we should be much more concerned about the neutral spectator. In principle, the neutral spectator no longer exists. The one who watches a football match for ninety minutes without a fan relationship to this or that team. They should be asked why they are no longer there. They would have to have a say in what they enjoy about football and how they would like to see it. There were never any surveys about what people wanted to see. It was not thought necessary because of the supposed greatness of the sport. But the view exists very urgently: you would have to do it. Start polls on what people would like to watch and what they wouldn’t.
4) Reclaiming the neutral spectator.
This, of course, has already been dealt with so far in 3). If the neutral viewer were to agree to take part in a survey at all, one would only have to act on the results of the survey.
The theoretically anticipated results are something like this: the ball should roll, it should be exciting, entertaining and fair. Unsportsmanship is undesirable, nobody wants to see that. No foul play, no swallows, no injuries, no hooliganism, no time play. Instead, as many exciting goal scenes and goals as possible.
5) The penalty system. As in road traffic and in the legal code, it should be designed to eliminate rule violations – but it does NOT do so in football. Punishment as a reward?
This consideration as such has not yet been encountered either. Any rule violation is unwelcome in any game. Flawless execution and enjoyment of the game result when the rules are observed by all sides. That is what they are there for. In this respect, a rule violation should always be punished in such a way that a repetition of the same rule does not occur again. In any case, it must be ensured that the sinner, the offender, does not gain any advantage from the offence. This must be guaranteed in football just as it is in road traffic or in the legal code. “Crime don’t pay” must be the maxim. This is not the case in football.
6) The tactical foul
To prove point 5): there is the tactical foul. The player committing the foul does so because he derives a benefit from it. Otherwise the term would be invalid and it would have to be replaced by “just as stupid a foul as any other”. The tactical foul is the variant where the term already shows the nonsense of the rules. If you foul tactically, you get a personal yellow – but that’s still better than letting your opponent draw.
7) Time play
This term is just as paradoxical as the tactical foul. As soon as time play is recognised – otherwise the term would not exist – it should already no longer work. It must be possible to exclude such behaviour, which is intolerable and unacceptable for the spectator. Those who play for time suffer from it. Just like any other rule violation. As it is practised in football, it is the complete opposite. The spectator turns away unless he is biased. If he is biased, he also only endures it because the same injustice was done to him before.
8) The penalty whistle anomaly
Each individual infringement of the rules results in a decidedly “lenient” penalty. In the case of a tactical foul, the punishment is SO lenient that people are happy to commit it, to the extent that they even receive a reward. “What would you rather have, a yellow or a scoring chance for the opponent?” “Yellow, of course!” “What do you have to do for that?” “Just a little breach of the rules.” “Ah, good. So we have to change that.”
It’s only with the penalty that the penalty is in favourable proportion to the attacker. That is: he would take the penalty any time, with very few exceptions in any situation, because there is no major scoring chance. The only thing is that referees find it inordinately difficult to award a penalty precisely because of this disproportion. There are most discussions about penalties precisely because this problem has been created, for example, with the upholding of this single penalty for a breach of the rules by the defending party in its own penalty area. See also 11).
9) The injustice inherent in the game
There is a game-immanent injustice. Basically everyone feels it, but there is no one to say so. Whereby this restriction applies to some of the points mentioned.
This injustice is the following: Strikers and defenders have different rights. Again, this statement has not yet been heard in this way, but there is a range of evidence to support it.
First of all, the observation: defenders and strikers would have used the same means in one-on-one combat. Then, in far more than 90% of the cases, one will either decide on a striker’s foul or on playing on. The defender HAS then not fouled. Whereby it would have to be judged beyond the “both held, pulled, tugged”, which a commentator then finds, by whom the violation of the rules originated, so to speak the old kindergarten question: “Who started it?” And in fact, in the vast majority of cases, the answer to this question is clear: the defender does it. He is out to prevent goals, so he is the destroyer, unfortunately also the destroyer of football worth watching. His destroyer role involves not allowing positive football. He MUST intervene, that is what is required of him. And he must stretch the rules as far as they will go. Or just a bit further (see 5) and 6)). He fouls when he has to. At the same time, this has something to do with his footballing disposition. As a rule, the attacking player is the more agile and often faster player. So: the foul action starts with the defender.
The attacker has two options in return: either to accept his fate or to defend himself. If he accepts his fate, he loses the ball and does not score a goal either way. If he defends himself, HE has fouled. He also does not score and the ball is gone.
The evidence for this observation can be found, for example, in the reaction of the players. A defender who obstructs an opponent but hopes to get away without a free kick against him raises his arms purely intuitively. “I didn’t do anything.” At the same time, he confesses that he has done something. Why else make a gesture at all?
The attacking player wins the ball, in the same or a much less foul manner. A whistle is blown and he runs away shaking his head. This gesture, which is also intuitive, says: “What am I supposed to have done now?” And this is exactly how the gesture is to be interpreted: he has actually done nothing and yet he is punished for it. Mostly punished for the fact that he now has a goal-scoring opportunity that is not allowed by the referee.
A kind of further proof would initially be more of a test, a kind of thought experiment. One would have to cut together scenes about which referees would have to decide whether they were foul play/handball or not. These scenes are preserved as they are. Only you don’t recognise the place on the pitch. Closer to this goal or that goal? In midfield, in the penalty area? Now one would have to compare the decisions that would be made when viewing these pictures with those that were actually made in the game. Without any ill will. Just for the sake of it: please decide whether that was a foul or a handball. That was a foul? Fine, that’s how you would decide it now. What was the decision in the game?
The belief here is: a) the referees wouldn’t get involved.
b) if they did, it would come out that they decided against the strikers much more often in the game than they would have done in retrospect, unaware of the position on the field, or also
c) they would realise that they can ONLY make a decision if they know where the situation was. However, this would also convict them in the sense that the strikers would be at a disadvantage.
10) Fear of goal-scoring mistakes
This is another phenomenon that has probably never been heard of before. Why should one be afraid of goals, of decisions that could favour them?
The problem is multi-layered. One of the layers is this: a single goal, because of the small number of goals overall, is very often decisive. Even if not always game-changing, at least extremely shifting the probabilities, but also directly influencing the course of the game in such a way that one would rather not be responsible for it.
Another layer is this, that a tremendously increased perception for such a wrong decision is the consequence. So: this mistake caused a goal and thus decided the game. This will be hotly debated for weeks to come.
Another mistake, which merely stopped an attack due to a wrongly recognised offside situation, would be forgotten the very next moment. “Oh, that wasn’t offside at all. Well, that was hard to see and very close.” An error here, a goal given that was not legal – a huge commotion. A mistake there, a goal that might have been scored if the flag hadn’t gone up — no one crows about it.
The third level could be psychological. Suppose a goal is awarded that should not have counted. Another goal was scored and should have counted, but was wrongly disallowed. Now, the influence on the outcome of the game is basically the same for both mistakes. But logically, the perception is much greater for the goal that finds an entry in the history books, at least in the tables, than for the one that should have counted but never appeared on the scoresheet. So regardless of the general interpretation of the rules to the disadvantage of the attackers, this problem would always remain because of this psychological nuance. As soon as you realise this, however, you have the chance to counteract it.
11) Penalty is the wrong decision
The decision “if there is foul play or handball in the penalty area, it is a penalty” is probably the most problematic in the whole game. Basically, in every major football match played (i.e. every match at the professional level), one is likely to experience at least one, usually more than one, of these “critical scenes”, which are discussed. Both during the match, by commentators, the players, sometimes the referee, today also the video assistant. These discussions are often controversial and rarely lead to a clear result. More and more today, one encounters the so-called fifty-fifty situation, in which it is supposedly open and one decides this way, the other that way. This is a mistake, but even if it were true, it would not change much. Purely intuitively, the referee does not (have to) decide on a penalty.
He also knows that the one goal that results in the overwhelming majority of cases could or would decide the game, but also that the recognised foul play was almost always on the borderline. So the defender should make an effort not to commit a CLEAR FOUL, so that it is as easy as possible for the referee, but he will try to obstruct as little as possible so that it is not noticed, only a little pushing, pulling, tugging, holding, blocking, so that it is not a foul but also not a goal. In this respect, in the majority of cases, the doubts ultimately prevail and he decides against the penalty kick.
By the way, the problem here is also partly a psychological one, or rather the attention has long been directed in the wrong direction by the media. Allegedly, the striker ALWAYS wants a penalty kick, so he is watched very suspiciously. He would have gone for one, that’s why it’s not one here, something like that. But from the striker’s position you could describe it the other way round: if you fall down you don’t get it because you fell and wanted it. There was a foul, but only a very slight one, enough to put you off your stride. Fall or play on? If you decide to play on, you don’t get it because you obviously could play on and just as obviously didn’t want it. So you don’t get it like that and you don’t get it like that – but it won’t be a goal either, because you were sufficiently thrown off your feet or off balance. No penalty, no goal.
A final aspect is that a penalty actually gives a huge boost to the chance of scoring in most cases. Without a foul, without a penalty, just like that, out of the situation it would be 10%, sometimes 20% for a goal. After the whistle or because of the whistle, it would suddenly be 80% or even more nowadays. The referee also shies away from this. “I can’t give them a goal for that, can I? No, that’s not enough.”
Deciding the game AND enhancing the small scoring chance? No, everything speaks against it. There is a lack of courage. However, this is also the perception of the media, the other parties involved as well as the spectators. “Surely he can’t just point to the spot in such an important game?” This could be a thought, sometimes only intuitively felt, but even occasionally expressed in this way.
The rule was once written down like this well over 100 years ago and was subsequently slightly modified here and there, but the essence remained the same: a huge goal-scoring opportunity, almost the biggest conceivable one. Only: why doesn’t one think about adapting it, changing it? At the very least, it should be possible to introduce an alternative penalty for low-value but still clearly recognisable offences. Examples would be: a short corner or a free shot from sixteen metres, gladly varying the distance further. So fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, depending on the severity of the offence. The short corner would be borrowed from hockey. Let’s see if we can’t come up with some interesting, goal-scoring variations that make a goal possible but not as likely as a penalty kick.
12) The offside problem
The offside rule is comparable to that of the penalty kick. It is one of the most critical, but should still basically be retained. Too changes the game if one wanted to change something here.
The important thing with this decision, however, would be to apply it absolutely correctly. Unfortunately, this does not succeed and, like the penalty decisions, regularly – practically in every game – causes discussions, displeasure, doubts, mistakes. If you could avoid offside, you would usually have a very great goal-scoring opportunity. The striker starts just in time, the pass is accurate, no offside, a two-metre lead, a goal. That would be a form of the ideal. In any case, the chance is very big if you play off the defence in this way.
The thinking here is basically the same as with the penalty kick. Wrong, respectively, directed against the goals. The fear of the man on the line to leave the flag down, allow a goal and later find out that it was offside after all is the nightmare. This, like the penalty, would often cause weeks of discussion and be remembered as a game-changing mistake. The opposite case, raising the flag and then finding out that it was close but wrong, is perceived as almost nil. So the motto is: always raise the flag to be on the safe side.
The USA only made this small suggestion at the 1994 World Cup. Since then, it’s been more like a catchphrase, the implementation completely failed to materialise. Their idea was: when in doubt, give the striker the benefit of the doubt. So: if the assistant is not quite sure, he should keep the flag down. This recommendation was intended to prevent him from being scolded for the game-changing mistake. You are not sure: you can be wrong. Just don’t err to the disadvantage of the goals, please! The goals are what make the spectacle a true spectacle, it’s what the overwhelming number of spectators want to see.
If this rule had ever begun to be taken to heart, it would of course have the famous reproductive effect. Left down here, just wrong, a goal, but never mind, most of them were pleased. Left down there, a minimal mistake, as the freeze frame showed: also a pity, but there was also the example in previous situations: not so bad, keep it up. That is not the problem. The problem – if the recommendation were implemented – would be the other way round: a player wrongly whistled back: “What was that all about? But something like that shouldn’t happen, we all would have been happy about a goal, the assistant had something against it. The rules would have advised him to act differently. He neglected this or even violated it. No, we don’t want it like that.
13) Swallows – defender or striker makes them?
Probably just like every other point: you’ve never heard anything like it. A defender makes a swallow? That doesn’t even exist! Quite right. There has never been a decision in which a defender’s swallow was shown or penalised. But does this also mean that such a thing has never happened?
The history of the swallow is perhaps historically a very long one, but one could perhaps summarise it briefly: the term “swallow” was introduced for the fact that a striker in the penalty area feigns a foul committed against him, usually – in theory – by dropping theatrically, although he was not even touched. For such disgraceful behaviour, which — if successful — almost turns a non-goal chance into a whole goal, the rule provides for a yellow card as well as a free kick for the defending team. That may indeed be appropriate in this case. It was nothing, but you faked something and got the maximum reward for it.
There may be a few famous examples of this and it has become so ingrained in people’s minds that faking is about the worst thing that can be done to the sport. If one were to start a poll today on which bad habit one would like to ban and give the respondent a free choice – i.e. not offer a pre-selection – then one would probably find the elimination of swallows among the top three.
This exaggeratedly sharp perception of this attempt at deception may have its historical significance and a certain justification, but it has developed into something that is no longer true today (as of 2019), is correct, is fair, and is conducive to football, justice and excitement.
Because: the upgrading of the goal situation that is about to happen through the award of a penalty is not the responsibility of the striker. The attacking team only wants to be allowed to attack and preferably not be disturbed by foul play. If this does happen, please apply the penalty provided for in the rules. If this is a penalty? We will gladly take it. Now it is assumed that every attacker is aiming for this appreciation. However, since the latter has long since made the experience that he does not succeed with this endeavour, but instead usually gets a warning, but if not, then in any case not a penalty, he refrains from the behaviour. There are actually no more swallows. The insinuation, however, remains.
What has existed for a long time – see also points 8 )and 11) – are strikers who are fouled slightly, more severely or correctly, but who nevertheless try to play on. They sometimes even try not to go down, despite clear obstruction, for three good reasons: a) they wouldn’t get a penalty anyway, b) there would rather be the danger of being cautioned than getting a penalty and c) they might still have the chance to score a goal despite the obstruction. So: don’t fall, let alone drop. You even see more and more players nowadays who even go to the ground because they have actually been fouled a bit more seriously, but don’t stay on the ground, possibly still holding their ankle or leg, but instead jump straight back up and want to indicate: “See, ref, there was NO WAY it was a swallow.” But that they wanted to rule out that they should not be awarded a penalty because they made it so clear that they had not performed a swallow? No, this is not part of their statement at all. It’s just that in all cases the referee will not be guided by it.
The short version is: if you fall down as a striker you don’t get one because you fell, if you don’t fall you don’t get one because you didn’t even fall. That was already known so far. In addition, if you do accidentally or unavoidably fall, get up again quickly so that no suspicion falls on you. You won’t get the penalty under any circumstances, it won’t be a goal either, but at least you avoided a yellow card.
Now let’s turn the tables: why has no defender ever been prosecuted for a penalty? Well, because the term wasn’t designed for it. Ok. You might let that pass. Yet there are plenty of game situations where defenders go down in the arbitrary struggle for the ball. Observation says: as soon as this happens, it was a forward foul. There is no use of the video assistant, nor even the slightest doubt. The defender falls down, surely he must have been fouled?
The behaviour of the defenders is becoming increasingly brazen in this respect. Not only do they always fall, at the slightest touch, and much more badly than the strikers ever did, no, they also do it without any touch, and after every ball loss, but when the time comes, if the ball is within reach – and it often is – they fall with their hands directly on the ball long before the referee’s whistle has sounded. Now they have fallen on it, lay it down directly for the free kick and take it. Whether the referee has even blown the whistle by then? Irrelevant. That is the self-determined and so decided foul with free kick consequence and there is no discussion about that. The referee also leaves no doubt about it. Because: if the striker now complains a) that he did nothing at all, b) that the opponent had fallen without being touched and thus the penalty of a swallow had been fulfilled, c) that the opponent had played the ball with his hand before the whistle was blown and d) that the whole thing was screaming to the skies, then he gets another yellow, and that without any ifs and buts.
When it is later said about the strikers that they went where it hurts, then the nail was unintentionally hit on the head: this is rape of the soul and of justice that is permanently being perpetrated on them. And this hurts enormously.
That all this continues to be directed only against goal situations, like every other of the aforementioned actions on the field, is obvious either way. And the fact that this does maximum damage to the game of football by preventing goal-scoring situations at all corners and ends is also superfluous to mention again in this case.
Should the rethinking take place one day that people would like to see goals and that this is what keeps football alive, what fills the stadiums and the box offices and what people enjoy, then another effect would be guaranteed as a consequence: every decision in favour of the goal situation, in favour of the striker, the attacking party, in the sense of the game, the spectators and the entertainment and in the sense of the recommendation pronounced by the USA “in doubt for the attacker. .”, then each of these decisions would no longer have the huge influence on the outcome and course of the game that it has today. More goals less importance of a single goal.
Not only at this point would one kill about seven birds with one stone, as the brave little tailor probably did?
14) The “pure results sport” made by the media
The media set the standards. They have almost free choice in it. Catching is a big, grown-up sport. If you want to bring catering to the man, then you have to sell him what is going on there cleverly and well. This seems to have been done well so far. It is NOT about determining the winner. It is sport and it is entertainment, it is show.
This little example is just to underline that it is up to the media what they make of what is presented.
So if winning is proclaimed to be the only thing that makes football blissful, then it is only quite logical that everyone submits to these circumstances. If, however, the media were to decide that it is all about good and fair sport, gladly conducted with a fight and a lot of effort, but please respecting the rules, and gladly also crowning a winner at the end, who would then actually receive his deserved recognition from all sides, because everyone would have recognised that he – just like all the others – had proven to be the best in fair sporting competition, then those responsible – players, coaches, managers, club bosses, but also the spectators – would very soon orient themselves to these guidelines. If, for example, after one of the “dirty victories” that have been cited so much lately – note: such victories have only existed for about twenty years, from the designation, which imposes a certain development as a basic assumption – one were to take the winner to task, show him the unfair means he would have used to achieve this dirty victory and that no one really wants to see this, not only in the sense of justice but also in the practice of what is actually such a beautiful sport – then one would probably never see another one like it.
Here the view is absolutely held that the spectators, even if very clearly positioned in their passion for one of the two teams or for one of the many participants, in any sport or competition, could and would very well accept defeat and not only very well but even quite gladly. They might have suffered along with them, kept their fingers crossed throughout the entire competition, the entire game, but now, after the end, they have not only unpleasant feelings but also feelings, for example in the form of sympathy, grief, compassion, feelings that are simply part of the game and that one gladly accepts from time to time, precisely because of the realisation that it is only through the opposite perception that the positive feeling, if it occurs later, can really be savoured. Ups and downs are simply part of it. Permanent celebration would become a matter of course and the celebration would gradually become a farce.
Since the media sell us football as a pure results sport, everything is rather bland and at the same time one has no sympathy for an unfortunate loser. Wins are demanded and if not delivered, the team is booed. Every dirty victory seems to be warmly welcomed and the behaviour that brings one such victory is sanctified, even made into a maxim: “We’d like to get a few dirty victories in” is heard with pleasure, to the smirk of the reporter and the interviewee. Everyone knows what is meant: if the victories had been won, the means would certainly be the last thing to be questioned, but so would the achievement.
There is nothing beautiful left to discover about the sport. And unfortunately, Otto Rehhagel had the right insight thirty or more years ago: the media are to blame for everything. However, if they were to implement this “blame” in a positive way, it would become a responsibility and, if implemented positively, they would suddenly be the one to thank because it’s so much fun. Now which version is the desirable one? Let everyone answer this for themselves. You can start at any point and every individual could do it.
15) The defensive thinking, directed against the goals, of players, coaches, reporters and above all referees. “Let’s not score a goal” or “let’s not have a goal scene”, then things get tricky.
This point has, of course, already been dealt with in the previous ones. However, if the resulting psychology is interpreted and applied absolutely correctly, it even leads to another observation: referees have a real inner fear of getting into critical decision-making situations. So as soon as the ball is in the penalty area, they are on high alert. You can decide the game with one whistle. And there are always these critical situations. Was that a foul, was that a hand, was that offside? If I blow the whistle now, I’m in trouble. Especially if I do it wrong. Wrong is always when a goal is scored and there has been some kind of inconsistency beforehand. The inconsistency could have been anywhere. Should I fail to spot a foul on a striker, accidentally raise the flag? All of this would have much less impact, much less of which would be chalked off to me as an error. So: in all cases, better no penalty, better offside, better a striker’s foul.
All right, all these points have already been made and are only repeated here. But the psychology expands: one would rather not even get into the situation in which it would have to be decided whether it was a foul or a hand, whether it was offside or whether the goal was legal. As a referee, you would much rather have the ball in midfield. Nothing can happen there, even if the frequency of mistakes is not lower. But the consequences are almost always insignificant. So: if at all possible, the decision is made to prevent the ball from reaching the goal-dangerous zone in the first place.
And this is the equally outrageous assertion in this section: the referees stop goal-scoring situations as soon as they arise, as best they can. They don’t want to get into the critical situation, so it’s better if it doesn’t happen at all or as rarely as possible. So far it should be understandable? Now the question is, how can we actively shape this?
Yes, it is possible and not only that: it happens all the time. And nobody notices anything. An example would be the striker’s foul after a corner kick. The referee sees the cross-court ball sail in, he sees, of course, that the usual scramble is taking place. A whistle sounds. No question: against the attackers, striker’s foul. What exactly did he see? There’s no slow motion for that, nor any use of the video assistant. No critical decision, free kick, again no goal, no chance to score. The spectator can imagine the tension, but well, that’s another story…
Another example is often seen when a critical situation is intercepted. So a great chance to score, the goalkeeper stops, the ball stays in the penalty area, immediately there are duels, scrambles, hectic, many legs. You often sense that the referee is just waiting for an arbitrary moment to finally interrupt. It becomes too exciting for him. Players fall down, legs fly around, chaos in the penalty area, at some point a whistle blows: without further discussion, the defence has the ball.
Once you start paying attention, you notice it all the time. It’s also the tiny little situations in their initiation. An example of this would even be in the case of an advantage situation, which is then stopped by a foul whistle. The referee then apologises, but it is too late: he has already blown the whistle and now a free kick has to be taken, even if the attacking team would have been much happier about the advantage. They are angry, but that doesn’t help them either. The question would be whether the referee had actually just blown the whistle by mistake or whether his subconscious had played this trick on him? Better a free kick here than a direct scoring chance there. In any case, the ball would be closer to the goal if it were allowed to run. And the closer to the goal, the more often a critical decision, which one would rather avoid.
16) The three-point rule
This would be a very good example of the intention, which was actually recognised at some point, to increase the tension, to provide for more goals, to increase the entertainment value through more goal situations. Because: even if you never heard about it again later, the intention could have been just to heat up a lot of boring games that were rippling along with 1:1 or 0:0 late on and to provide an incentive that a little more action could only do good. You want excitement and goals. People want to see attacking football and not defensive battles. So, basically, there must have been a lack of entertainment value and a desire for more goals.
If such a rule change is introduced, then one should at least expect that one day a comparison will be made: what was it like before, what is it like now, what has it achieved?
The result should be anticipated here: it has brought nothing. The goal average has not changed, the number of draws is at the same level as before. This can be statistically examined and proven – gladly elsewhere.
If one trusts the result – everyone may bring in their own observations and ask themselves whether they would ever have seen more action with a 1:1 towards the end than before — then one would perhaps have to investigate why the hoped-for effect failed to materialise? If you have found a good answer to this question, then perhaps you will immediately refrain from examining the statistics because the answer is so obvious?
However, there is more than one explanation. The most convincing one might be found in point 14): in pure results sport, a win may still count for far more than a draw, but losing is the worst thing that can happen to you. You can simply relate it to the coaches. If you lose, you get sacked. So the tactic is to just not lose. Before the rule was introduced and even more so afterwards. However, even more so because even more coaches are fired than before, because false expectations, i.e. expectations that are too high, are constantly being set and underfulfilled, and consequently the coach is responsible and fired. But that, too, is just a side note.
So: losing is forbidden. We don’t risk any more. It is only worth taking a risk in theory.
Another answer is as follows: in modern football, due to all the points mentioned before, but also otherwise in principle, it is actually the case that attacking play is not really worthwhile. Those who attack have to leave spaces behind them at some point. The ball losses are pre-programmed – also in view of the above-mentioned rule interpretations and applications, with clear advantages for the defensive lines –, the switching game is trained everywhere, the spaces are occupied at lightning speed, the opponent is counter-attacked, the chance to score a goal from one situation is greater than the chance that the previously attacking team would have produced from three goal situations in the same period of time. So: the calculation doesn’t even quite add up that it would be worth going for the three points.
A third point would be that the teams, as a consequence of the previous consideration, would be leering at each other. So say: “you just attack and try to get the three points. If you do, you’re pretty stupid, because then we’ll counterattack you.” Since both have this basic understanding, no one does the other any more favours. In other words: everything remains the same as it always was. Whether it’s two or three points for the win.
A more advanced theory goes like this: the three points awarded make a victory even more valuable. The rule is not only applied in the case of a tie, but also and especially when a team is in the lead. This team will now do everything to keep this higher reward in its hands since the higher value has been awarded. So: if one leads 1:0, then one immediately retreats and defends this valuable lead. Based on this consideration, the introduction of the rule would even be more of an own goal: one promotes defensive play instead of offensive play in the fantasy. Because: there is still more often an unbalanced score in a football match than a balanced one. And in all these cases, the offensive game is demotivated.
In sum, you can see the good intention – going hand in hand with the author that more goals and more action and more excitement are desired, only you have chosen an unsuitable means. So here, too, there is an urgent need to rethink and get on the right track: we want more goals and it would be very easy.
The certain injustice that has been brought about by the introduction should not go unmentioned either. Why else do we hear so often after a drawn game that it’s a point that doesn’t really help anyone? This is solely a consequence of the point theft that was inflicted on them as punishment. So even if both had now perfectly executed what was hoped for, expected, demanded of them and offered attacking football at its best, with maximum spectator entertainment: should both have accidentally scored the same number of goals, they will still be deducted half a point from the competition.
The slight possibility of manipulation, that two teams playing against relegation would agree before the season that each would win its home game and thus both secure three valuable points over the competition, which in return would perhaps have only snatched two points each after two fought-out draws in the first and second legs, may be pure fantasy and in no way constitute a guide to cheating. But it could still have happened? This is what you get if you don’t think carefully about such a change and don’t at least check it out.
17) What is an advantage?
There is the so-called advantage rule. But it lacks any meaningful application or persuasive power. If, for example, in one of the situations mentioned above, a striker ignores a foul and nevertheless continues to play in the penalty area and even shoots at goal – always bearing in mind that the recognised obstruction would still have cost him a few valuable percentages in the exploitation of the chance — then, if he misses the goal, one can surely no longer speak of an “advantage” under any circumstances?
But this is the common method of application. Not only Marek Mintal had to experience the dark side back then when he wanted to score the goal despite being fouled but only hit the post, commented by coach Hans Meyer afterwards with “of course I’ll tell him to drop next time”, with the obvious sarcasm in it, but there were also quite a few other examples where there was recognisably no advantage from the situation.
In the case of a penalty it is already obvious enough, but also in other situations a whistled advantage is often NOT an advantage. Only: if it is whistled off – as also mentioned before, as a reflex of the referee, in order to avoid the otherwise even greater goal chance — then it would have been one. So in all cases: the attacking party goes out with a disadvantage. Again, against the goals and against the action, excitement and entertainment as well as justice.
If one wanted to create a meaningful advantage rule, one would only have to orientate oneself on ice hockey. A foul is recognised, the referee raises his arm because he has recognised it, from that point on the attack continues until the ball is either in the goal or lost. If another foul occurs afterwards, a “double penalty” would not be a problem at all. Play continues, both offences are penalised afterwards and play continues from where it is more favourable for the attacking party. So two fouls, one of them closer to the goal, the free kick is taken there. If cautions: even both sinners can get one.
The implementation of this rule should hardly be a hurdle. Either way, a violation of the rules should not favour the one who committed it.