The question was chosen deliberately. What is a punishment, what does one perceive as a punishment? What would be the meaning of a punishment? To what extent is the intention in determining a penalty, which is assigned to a breach of the rules, to prevent a repetition of the same as far as possible? Shouldn’t the goal be to ensure that the rules are observed? A foul is a violation of the rules. A free kick is at best an equivalent substitution, not at all a penalty, to put it directly in terms of football and its rules.
One can gladly make the comparison with case law. In the statute books, the penalty should be set in such a way that, if possible, the offence itself does not promise the offender any positive effect. On the contrary, any offence should, as far as possible, offer such an unfavourable relationship to the benefits hoped to be achieved by it that it is not committed in the first place. The so-called “deterrent effect”. If you drive too fast, you have to pay. So you’d better not drive too fast, it’s not worth it. Break into a flat and you’ll be banged up. Don’t do it! It’s not worth it.
There are many examples. The intended effect is always the same: we don’t want to see that, you don’t do that, it’s against the rules or, in this case, against the law.
If you want to take the comparison a little further: there are rules and there are laws. The laws may have a higher status in purely conceptual terms. Rules are more likely to be established in games. However, there are also a number of rules in human interaction, some of which are valid even without being written down. The famous etiquette manual, for example, in the sense of rules of etiquette. Written down in this case yes, binding no.
Whatever would happen if you did it differently: you eat with a knife and fork, not with your hands. A rule, is that what you call it? In a way, this would be different from laws. Breaking the law should be stopped at all costs. A broken rule? Well, you might look at the person, sometimes even askance. He wouldn’t have much more to fear. In case of repetition, he would have to reckon with not receiving any more invitations or being politely asked to leave the pub.
In the further search for similarities and differences between rules and laws: in the case of laws that demand compliance with drastic threats of punishment, there is the major problem of getting to the bottom of the offenders, i.e. catching them and implementing the threatened punishments listed in the text of the law. To a certain extent, this would also justify a higher sentence. Since not everyone is caught, a harsher punishment is threatened in the hope that this will have the desired deterrent effect. From the offender’s point of view, the calculation would go like this: “It would be good if I could get a little money, even a little more. For example, I could rob a bank. There should be money in heaps. If I do it and don’t get caught, my worries would be quickly eliminated. If I do it and do get caught, I’ll have to stare at Swedish curtains for a few years. Hmmm. Is it worth it?”
Even if the outcome is not to be prejudged here and such crimes still occur: the intention would be that the sentence of “a few years in jail” would be sufficient for bank robberies not to be committed.
Should the sentence be increased, there could be even greater success in that sense.
“If you park wrong, you go to jail.” Is it possible that in this way one could completely demotivate wrong parking, so that no one would dare to do it any more? “I don’t want to go to jail!” However, one would still have to be caught first. Whereby the problem with such a threat of punishment would be obvious: such an insignificant violation of the rules cannot, purely intuitively, be punished so severely? No one is in danger, no one is seriously harmed, why such a punishment?
For the time being, there are only a few basic considerations at this point. There are bound to be adjustments to sentences here and there, even in the law books, because a shameful act has occurred repeatedly. The calculation is simple: if you increase the sentence, perhaps you will succeed in making a potential offender refrain from doing it after all? The intention, in any case: it is best if it does not happen at all.
This applies to all laws that have been established. The citizen abides by them. Punishments are only there so that the laws are also taken seriously. The threat of punishment is sufficient to ensure compliance. Wouldn’t that be nice? The intention exists, but success has not yet come. But they are working on it…
In education, too, there is the phenomenon of setting rules – mostly an internal matter, but still – and insisting on compliance.
In order to break a child of a certain, undesirable behaviour, there is a method that is often used, but usually not with great effect : to reason with the child. “You must realise that…” or “if everyone behaved like you, then…” or even “think about it, this is not right.”
As I said, the rather ineffective attempts. One appeals to reason, sense, sense of honour, whatever, and thus puts the child on a par with a (supposedly) reasonable adult. There may even be occasional – depending on age and previously established own credibility and authority – small partial successes here or there, but on the whole it usually proves useless. The (smaller) children test their limits. They want to find out not only what is really not allowed and what can cause serious harm, but also how much the one threatening punishment is suited to take on this role for the child. So it has a lot to do with (future) credibility.
Insofar as one is very seriously interested as an educator (who wants to be “entitled”? One must – whether one likes it or not) in no longer encountering a certain behaviour, in enforcing a certain rule, it is necessary here and there to operate with real punishments. There are two very essential stages here : the first is the threat of a punishment, the second is the imposition of a punishment. It makes no sense to threaten a penalty – even though this is quite common in practice – and then not allow it to take effect in the case of repeated violations. You lose credibility and you are guaranteed to have a harder time enforcing what you want the second time and with the same “offence”.
From the third time onwards, it becomes more difficult even in relation to any other rule introduction, as there is general doubt about the application of the punishment. It may even be that the child goes even more over the top than before, since you as the educator have the obligation to fulfil the educational mandate – and have not seemed up to this task so far. This childish behaviour is then called “testing the limits”. Alternatively, it could also be called an “authority test”. “He always threatens and never does anything. Let’s see how far I can go.” If the person is unsuccessful with this : the child will look for points of orientation elsewhere. It is even possible that the child smiles at the unsuccessful teacher.
It would therefore make sense to set rules and ensure that they are observed. In an emergency, use reasonably proportionate punishments. The remarkable thing about this would be the following sequence, which is to be hoped for but also expected: for example, the child has disregarded the rule in one case. The punishment for a repeat offence is set in the frame. “If you do it again, then…”. The child tries it again, the punishment is implemented and is at least appropriate at that moment, but sensitive enough (no ice cream, for example, but which was on the daily schedule before?).
Now, new rule violations are by no means to be expected. “Please don’t do that.” And the child suddenly complies. Experience has taught it that the resistance to this that had been tested before was futile. The child does not even have to wait for a threat of punishment, the educator does not have to invent one, the child knows the consequences, in the sequence: I repeat, he threatens punishment, I disobey again, he punishes, it harms me. I know it. I let it go.
As long as the forbidden things are chosen sensibly and one does not permanently forbid things just for the sake of demonstrating authority, one could count on “well-behaved children”. The positive accompanying effect, by the way: the child feels comfortable at the side of such an adult. The apparent severity with which the adult has had to take action once, maybe twice, does not make the child see him or her as an unpleasant person to be feared, but as someone who is nice to have around. “You can rely on him.”
Of course all this, as always, the more than grey theory….
One thing remains common, however, with rules and laws: one would like to encounter violations and transgressions as rarely as possible. The goal should be: no misconduct, no violation of rules, no violation of laws. The ideal world, sure, but one has to be guided by ideals somewhere?
A few more thoughts about “rules of the game” in general : a game will in many cases involve some kind of determination of the winner. There is a playful competition – to which, by the way, one is quite happy to expose oneself, as a child as well as later as an adult, most generally speaking — in which one wants to determine the “better”. Here and there, a few factors of luck are gladly incorporated, accepted or arise purely by chance through the character of the game. The point of this would be: the same person will not always win and the loser would not have to feel like a “worse person” per se. “Today I lost, tomorrow I might win”. The random elements also welcome because it gives the game a few moments of tension due to the lack of predictability. You deal cards and you’re excited to see which one you get. You roll a dice and you’re excited to see what it gets you. You kick a ball and are curious to see where it will go! You draw pairs – purely at random – and are curious to see who your opponent will be. You draw letters (Scrabble) and get a Ypsilon. Lots of points, but difficult to place. In short: Gevatter Zufall is a welcome guest.
Individual sports, team sports, games of skill, brain games, games of chance, all these types of games, also in mixed form (games of chance with a skill factor, etc.) are represented and are enjoyed by everyone, from children to the elderly. There is a game objective and a positive set of rules for it, which initially do not deal with rule violations.
In “Mensch ärger dich nicht”, dice are rolled in turns. You may move one of your pieces forward by the number of dice rolled. If you roll a 6, you may roll again. If your own stone lands on a square on which an opponent’s stone is standing, you may hit it. The captured piece returns to its starting square. The aim of the game is to move all your pieces from the starting square, once around the entire playing field, back to the starting square.
This is roughly the positive set of rules. There is initially no proportion of what you are not allowed to do and even less of how you would be punished for it.
Now, in any game, it occasionally happens that one party, perhaps driven by ambition, uses means that are not appropriate for the game. For example, one “cheats” in a card game, looks at the opponent’s cards, declares a die to be burning if it comes to rest on an undesirable number – on oneself or on the opponent – marks a card in memory, moves a stone in a game of mill when the opponent looks away. Or one suddenly declares, after a defeat: “No, we have to play THREE games to determine the winner”.
Whatever the case, rule violations occur that have nothing to do with the game. With team sports, it gets a bit more complex, but still in such a way that at some point you write down how the game is played. Those are the rules, and you have to stick to them.
Now there are nevertheless the “rule violations” or “rule infringements” (which might be a less bad thing?). The question here would be whether these are simply part of the game and one has to accept them or whether they perhaps change the character of the game to the disadvantage. Above all, a decisive question would be: can one of the participants in the game use the means of breaking the rules in order to gain an advantage? This may well be an effect that creeps in imperceptibly…!
In conjunction with the rule writing – what is forbidden? — there will probably be the catalogue of sanctions. This provides for rule violations so that the person violating the rule does not get away with an advantage if possible. “If you do this, this happens, if you do that, that happens. Don’t do that!” Similar to the laws.
Here the question would still be: is this uniform and fulfilled in all cases? The question above all: would professional players possibly even pick out the rule subtleties in which repeated infringement has a positive effect on the chances of success?
Another accompanying question would be whether the spectators, who – as soon as the term “professional” appears – would have to be brought on board, would want to see these rule violations at all? Does the game perhaps lose quality, attractiveness, if one does not care whether or that the rules are observed?
In all places here, the view is expressed that rule violations and/or infringements should be undesirable. This applies to any game, interactions with each other, in child rearing, in life, in the law and its texts.
If someone did it in a game, and did it repeatedly, there would have to be a suspicion that the person did it intentionally and thus expected an advantage from it.
Consequently, the punishment for a rule violation should always be such that it demotivates further violations. In the sense that it should have the character of “sensitive” in a child, with the intention of memorising it and thus making any transgression of the rules appear undesirable, also for the future.
More succinctly : don’t break the rules as they are not worthwhile. Just play the game according to the rules. The promise is: it’s more fun for you, it’s more fun for the spectators. It is fairer and if one is the winner in the end, both can still look each other in the eye afterwards. He has won within the rules. It was fair, you deserved it, congratulations!
Could these considerations be transferred to football? Is foul play an undesirable action or is it simply part of the game? Do we want to ban rule-breaking at all or should it perhaps be part of the spectator entertainment? Is fair play just a utopian idea? Would the spectators be deprived of part of the action, would they be put off football, if there were no more emergency braking, no more bone-breaking, no more verbal attacks, no more elbows extended in headers, no more hands flailing around in the opponents’ hands in a running duel, no more freak-outs, no more nicks, no more scratching, biting, spitting, pulling?
If such things were part and parcel of football and if they were possibly one of the reasons why spectators (still) go to the stadium, if one wanted to maintain this state of affairs, if one considered it “reprehensible” in that sense, but at the same time cultivated it, then this would be an indictment of the game itself. “Since nothing else is going on and no goals are being scored anyway, they should at least break their bones so that something happens at all. Otherwise no one will watch, will they?”
This would be somewhat comparable to ice hockey, where sometimes bad scuffles start and the referees always go around the players in circles and don’t intervene, here and there for up to a minute or even longer? That just seems to be part of the excitement in ice hockey, the spectator wants to see that. Whereby there would be a difference to football: these really tough guys wear protective clothing, after all.
And in Formula 1? Let no one claim that they don’t watch it because there is the odd crash here and there. It wouldn’t necessarily be a consequence of a rule violation, but here it would be more about “side-action” that has nothing to do with the “game” and nevertheless, or precisely because of that, attracts people.
“Foul play is part of football. After all, it’s not like blowing cotton wool.” Nevertheless, one hears, especially from the commentators (no wonder, though, because a game hardly ever meets their standards), that “this is a tense game with many interruptions” or that “this is not an attractive game because of the constant friction and banter” or “the referee is responsible for it being so rough here, he should have given a signal early on. Now the game has slipped away from him.” You could then continue with the idea: the children are dancing on the referee’s nose. He has lost his authority. The question that follows: did he actually have any means at his disposal that the players would take seriously?
So there are some indications that foul play is not so desirable and that the otherwise beautiful game of football suffers badly as a result.
The question of the extent to which the penalties in the current rules and regulations are suitable for demotivating misbehaviour is delivered in every current game, by the players on the pitch themselves. To judge by the behaviour: people foul to their hearts’ content, in all walks of life. Sure, the foul player tries to do it as inconspicuously as possible and – analogous to the “criminal” who disregards the law – not to get caught doing it, and also not to let an offence take place too close to his own goal if it cannot be avoided, and if it can still be arranged, not to see a yellow card for it, but none of these considerations really deter him.
There is another thought which speaks more than clearly against the occurrence of foul play : injuries occur frequently enough. These are already highly unpleasant for the individual player, for the team and its success, and often even represent a certain tragedy (Marco Reus, Michael Ballack), and the term “health hazard” is not just said that way. There are very bad injuries, and no one could deny that the extent of them has increased over the decades. Translated, this means: recklessness has increased, in the sense of the idea of success (the media bear a share of the responsibility). But there is also the aspect of justice. Partly, important players have to leave the field after gross foul play, which is a competitive disadvantage. The player inducing the injury continues to play, perhaps yellow carded, but here and there without any punishment. That is simply unjust, one must feel that way. And any injustice must be undesirable, because it drives away the neutral spectator who is so necessary. They simply won’t go along with it. You can only get angry – and you don’t want that at all.
In this respect, the current sentence is too lenient, is the simple conclusion. If one could agree that one would rather not see foul play, then it would be necessary to increase the penalty. Whatever the outcome, as soon as the idea takes hold, solutions will be found. If the problem is ignored, nothing will happen, of course. The suspicion exists, but it should be countered here.
An example of a current rules discussion (current: July 2017) reveals how helpless the rules officials are in dealing with the issue: there is a proposal that a penalty kick should only be taken as a one-time goal action, as in the penalty shootout. Ball in, goal, ball cleared: play stopped, kick-off, on. No opportunity for a follow-up kick, no corner kick in the case of a save. Goal or no goal, one try.
The rule itself may be interesting or uninteresting, fair or unfair, an improvement or completely irrelevant. But this should not be the subject of discussion here. It is much more about the reasoning behind this idea in the first place?
This crazy reasoning goes like this: the referee would only have the ball, the shooter and the goalkeeper in his sights. In this respect, he would be overburdened to have to observe at the same time that no players – neither attackers nor defenders – run too early into the penalty area, contrary to the rule. However, it happens practically every time a penalty kick is taken. A nuisance when you watch the pictures, but there is no remedy for it?
Now this justification is far more than specious. Certainly, the problem must be acknowledged that it would be a much more important question whether it was an attacker who first entered the forbidden zone (the penalty area) and the ball was in, or whether it was a defender and the ball was deflected. Only in these two cases would a replay be ordered.
For clarification: if it was an attacker first and no goal: own fault. No goal, play continues. If a defender first and goal: own fault. Goal, kick-off, play continues. However, even this subtlety is not enough – and this aspect has never been part of any discussion — to explain this short-sightedness.
Incidentally, on close observation there is another problem with the execution, which the referee is not up to either, according to the opinion expressed here. But this is exactly what he should have in mind. Very often the goalkeeper has already taken a step forward before the shooter has played the ball. This is against the rule. Only in the rarest of cases is such a violation of the rule punished (with a replay and nothing else!). And it continues to happen, although the referee should see it, as is claimed?!
There is a completely different reason why the referee does not (like to) allow a replay than the one given because of the rule change. He recognises very well when players are too early in the penalty area or when the goalkeeper has taken a step forward. The problem lies elsewhere. However, you have to allow for a bit of psychology here as well. However, if you allow the thought, it seems too clear to let it be pulled again.
So the reason is this : as soon as the players and spectators let out this cry of joy – can also be when a successful save is made, i.e. when a goal is prevented – and the explosion takes place in the stadium, it is difficult to let out another whistle. Not only would it often go down, no, it’s hard to escape that mass feeling. “Oh, what the hell, someone got in too early, but that’s why you bring down the collective joy here?” The fact that he would still have to fear for his health may also play a minor role.
As far as the players are concerned, the view is very simple. True, they know: “You are not allowed to enter the penalty area until the shooter has touched the ball.” “Ah, ok. And what happens if I do?” “Well, then the penalty kick is retaken.” Ouch, yes, aha, but, come to think of it: that doesn’t matter at all?” “That’s right.”
So “that’s forbidden”, my ass. It is, let’s call it, “undesirable”. That would almost be putting it too harshly. It’s not even an offence, at most one of cavalier. “Normally I would have paid attention, but I didn’t feel like it.” A violation of the rules with no adverse consequences: no one cares if it is observed.
So it is nothing but an expression of complete helplessness towards those who break the rules. Surrender would also be a good description. One simply does not know how to banish misbehaviour. This already speaks volumes. It is possible, however, that it is due to the fact that no thought is given to the real causes? The fact that the players are mature and mature people may not even be a misconception in principle. But when the media provides the guideline: “Success and nothing but success is what we recognise”, then one must already reckon with this being taken as the highest value and thus the rules being stretched at will.
It is and remains one of those immoralities that have crept in and can no longer be controlled. Sometimes you can see a scramble at the edge of the penalty area to see who will gain access illegally first. There is a lot of pushing and shoving so that YOU are the first to cross the penalty area line – and thus also this rule. Almost paradoxical: one fights for the right to transgress the rule? The one who uses the worse forbidden means emerges as the winner?
A practical example: on the first day of the 1996 European Championship, the Croatian Vlaovic broke through alone in the last minute against Turkey after their corner kick, i.e. when they were looking for the winning goal and had all their men up. The last man, Alpay, had the chance to stop the opponent with an emergency stop just behind the halfway line. Everyone agreed: he could have done it. And unanimity too: he should have done it. Everyone, including the Turkish coach, saw it (that way). Alpay did not bring him down. Vlaovic finished, scored the 1:0, the game was over. Croatia progressed, Turkey was eliminated as a later consequence.
The discussions that followed are what might now cause a stir or what gets this example mentioned here — and thus the opportunity for reflection. Turkey’s Alpay was praised and ennobled by UEFA for fair play and later received the Fair Play Award. The Turkish coach complained to his player Alpay and left him on the bench for the rest of the matches.
If you think about it, you can have serious doubts about the meaning of sport and success, about ideas of morality and ethics, about football rules and fair play. It is, to say the least – and please forgive this expression – “perverse”.
First of all, Alpay did what should be a matter of course. Of course you don’t foul, above all you don’t make an emergency stop, which is about the most despicable thing you can imagine: you deny your opponent his hero status by an illegal action, even if it’s only a well-deserved goal, and at the same time you take injury into account. The fact that the recognisable possibility of an unfair action is mentioned at all is almost an absurdity, but it speaks volumes for the view of long-vanished concepts of honour that a John Wayne once perhaps embodied in the ideal.
That there should be a fair-play award for not committing a crude, very bad, absolutely inhumane, thuggish, mean, nasty attack, makes one finally throw all doubts overboard: moral concepts have degenerated. There is no such thing as fair play. It’s just ridiculous, embarrassing, exposing.
Alpay did the right thing, no ifs, ands or buts. His coach made a mistake. Turkey was unlucky. But FIFA? They made fools of themselves without having the slightest idea. Unbelievable. Fair play for a failure to apply the emergency brake?
But if you think about this scene and the discussions further, something else comes to light that might have remained hidden at first glance: He should have made this emergency stop to force the goal. The established view is that if he had done so, he would have helped Turkey to a 0-0 draw. It is almost unquestionable. For the rules would provide for the following punishments: the Turkish defender Alpay receives an outright red card. Emergency stop or rough foul play or both, unquestionably. He has to go down. Ouch, what a “penalty”! For 30 seconds they have to play with less players! How can they cope with that? But in addition, the Croatians would have been given a crazy chance to score: A direct (!) free kick at the halfway line, almost in the opponent’s half! The statistics prove it: Such a gigantic opportunity easily reaches the single-digit per thousand range!
No, unfortunately, there is only one expression for it: it is “perverse”.
Thus, it is easy to follow up on the introductory words and the chapter title: What is a punishment? Obviously, there was an example here that the little word “punishment” is totally off the mark. “Reward” would have been more like it.
“FIFA would have rewarded Turkey with a point against Croatia thanks to lunatic rule writing and its primitive, disgraceful and possible exploitation if the player Alpay had not been stupid enough not to make use of this lunacy. For this we award him the Fair Play Prize and us the Klopskopp Prize.” Or something like that.
As a final thought: another indictment of the Fair Play idea, if this was indeed the only action that was even put forward for consideration and application for this prize. Alternatively, one would have to ask: how bad were the other submitted proposals that they could not prevail against this suppressed “Unfair-Play of the Year”? Perhaps one of them did not spit at his opponent, even though there was a good opportunity to do so? He ended up in second place. Surely he deserved at least an honourable mention?
The statement stands like this and is being confirmed more and more: there is a disproportion between rule violation and sanctioning, which, if used halfway skilfully, gives the rule breaker an advantage. Equivalence alone (“do you foul or not? It doesn’t matter: both equally good or bad”) would not be enough to demotivate and ultimately banish misconduct. One should also consider one’s own position when one has been played (“he doesn’t look good there…”) and the “gaining of respect”. Efenberg called it “setting an example, getting a yellow card, waking up the team-mates”, thus promoting deliberate foul play with the acceptance of a warning as a stylistic device for success?
By the way, the so-called “tactical foul” belonged to the same category. The term alone makes this action a “common” one. “Yes, he has to draw the tactical foul there.” Because otherwise…? Otherwise there might be a goal to watch, a promising attacking situation, a game of overtime? And who would want to see that? Better to “draw” a yellow, an insignificant, ineffective free kick in a harmless position, a well-formed defence that naturally gets the time to get into position: an excellent deal. Why doesn’t someone wake up and say, “Tactical fouls are ugly, unfair and spoil the joy and fun of the game. We don’t want to see that.”
The principle is applied throughout. A defender who is being played around will always foul. Of course not badly, always just by holding or tugging on a jersey or falling down himself, but this one happens to be right at his feet or in his way. Not at all worthy of a yellow, no, of course not. A simple foul. But one thing is certain: the defender knows what he is doing. And he also knows why he is doing it.
What is he doing? He fouls. There is no compromise and no “presumption of innocence”. Before he lets the opponent go? Well, you’d have to listen to the other players! Or rather the coach. But you’ve heard it before: if you play fair, you’ll never make it to this level.
Why does he do it? Because the benefit is greater than the damage. That’s how it will always be. This is how far the media have brought us – pardon me, 5 euros in our own phrase bank, which will later be emptied with constant stirring over the ocean of charity and humanity -: everything that brings success is good and right. Any thought of honour is forever (?) banished from thought and feeling. Long live the winner! Down with the underdog! What does Robben, that creep you just can’t stop, also have such terrible glass bones that he has to be carried off again for a very simple blood stomp from behind? “If you really hit him, he’ll run away. And without it, they’re only worth half!” That’s the way it is!
The resulting demand is clear: a penalty would have to be, according to the term, a punishment. If a tactical foul is meaningful because it brings benefit, then the penalty was apparently not the appropriate one. In this regard, the very serious question: does the spectator prefer to see the promising counterattack that is just initiated after a ball loss, or does he prefer instead a yellow card and a ridiculous free kick from his own half, which simply has nothing whatsoever to do with goal danger or the previous situation?
By the way, a foul just outside the penalty area is also a good deal. You didn’t risk the penalty, you fouled the striker who had broken through just in time, but of course not in a way worthy of a red card, the chance of scoring is much smaller and the yellow-carded player will soon be replaced if necessary. He even gets help from the referee, who winks at the coach and says: “If you don’t replace him soon, he’s in danger…”. So one wheel meshes with the other. Mercy before justice?
No, the rethink applies to all areas. The media have the chance, apart from celebrating winners and disapproving of losers, to highlight an unfair action and make it recognisable as undesirable. They have the chance to make it harder for the perpetrators because of the reactions they reap.
But those responsible for the rules also have the chance to seriously consider which behaviour they want to stop and which they want to legalise. The spectators, too, have their say by voicing their displeasure – even if only live in the stadium – with certain actions (out with the air: whistle). And even the players could reintroduce certain concepts of honour among themselves. They are all in the same boat, playing with each other one season, against each other the next, why not reach agreement on which means should, can, may be used for success? As soon as a little focus is put on it, from all sides, this way of thinking and acting could take hold again. Because: It was like this before. And everything really was better in the past. Even the future.
If you take the whole example of children further, then the “testing boundaries” part also has its meaning. Players also always push the limits when it comes to judging legality and illegality. Whether this is desirable or not remains to be seen. If a tiny rule violation is not punished, then the limit is automatically pushed back a little further in the next attempt. As a player, you think: “If he doesn’t penalise the slight push, then it’s possible that he won’t blow the whistle for the slightly stronger push either? I’ll give it a try.” In this way, the boundaries are constantly tested – and pushed backwards until virtually every one deserves the classification: “borderline but illegal”. This is also meant very seriously and can be proven with examples. Here, too, the question immediately follows: who wants to see this? Is it useful for the sport, for its dissemination, for justice, for attractiveness? One may like to look for this answer oneself. The opinion expressed here is: no. Compliance with the rules would be an improvement in every respect.
An example of the gradual shifting of boundaries would be the throw-in. With the throw-in, there was once a realisation in the 80s that the throw-in was gaining metres. There was a place where the ball went out of bounds. The thrower rushed after the ball rolling in his direction of attack (there used to be only one play ball), grabbed it, ran diagonally back to the line-out, in the forward direction, and then ran on for quite a few metres, always hinting at the throw-in. This often resulted in far more than 10 metres by which the regular throw-in was shifted forward.
The rule makers found this annoying and wanted to put an end to it. For this purpose, they wrote the passage into the rules that the throw-in had to be taken exactly at the point where the ball crossed the line. Penalty for infringement: Change of the throw-in party, the opponent gets it. Surely this is a very sensible attempt in the right direction : you don’t want to see that, that’s not supposed to be, that’s unsportsmanlike. Penalty: you lose the ball, the opponent has it. Sounds good. Exactly the same in other places, please. At least the idea was good.
The players accepted it at first, no problem, let’s do it that way.
At first they behaved very nicely because they were afraid – see kindergarten — that the rule would actually be used. Maybe it even happened once to one who couldn’t break his old habit or wasn’t yet familiar with the rule. The ball was gone, his teammates were angry with him: “You know that…”
Consequently, one sticks to it. A kind of “first experience”.
Sometimes, at that time, you could see a player asking the referee exactly where the ball was so as not to run the risk of breaking the rule (if this procedure is used today, it only serves to stall for time; you know exactly where it was, but you point to it again and again to indicate an intended conformity with the rule, “but take quite a few seconds off the clock”, according to the reporter’s German). One knew the rule, oriented oneself to it, feared a violation.
A time passes, quite a pleasant time, in which this rule achieves and maintains its effect. Nevertheless, someone tries it out. The penalty was threatened, yes, but is it enforced even for tiny infractions? The first player tries it again with half a metre to spare. Could be, I didn’t really know. I’ll do it here. Nothing happens, the game continues. Let’s not be so strict, the ref thinks. There or there: no problem. The second one thinks, “If he doesn’t blow the whistle for half a metre, he probably won’t blow the whistle for a whole metre either? Sure enough, the whistle doesn’t blow, ball in our ranks, maybe a wniz advantage? It takes three games, a month, half a year. But still it keeps shifting. Let’s see at one and a half metres? Gone well again.
So the border is pushed further and further out. After a while, you realise: actually, the throw-in party was never changed, as it usually is. Went well for a while, now no more. Problem? Whoever wants to find one…
Maybe the referees have forgotten how to call penalties that are rarely or never called? The rule doesn’t really exist any more, because it is not applied. Who has last seen a throw-in in which metres were wasted – and we have long since returned to the old dimensions of up to or even more than ten metres – and the opponent received the throw-in? Abolished, the rule. By the players, by the playing children, with whom everything is allowed to pass. Does it leave a bad taste in your mouth? It was a try, can’t everything work out? Is that so important?
It develops even further, because it becomes a kind of customary law that creeps in. Because, quite honestly, if an overzealous whistle-blower were to blow the whistle today for a throw-in position rule violation of one metre – completely in accordance with the rules — , the “punished” would have every right to get excited. Because: “Yesterday, someone scuffed six metres and went unpunished, today I am punished for one metre? That is not possible and incorrect.” That’s right.
The same goes for holding the ball when a goalkeeper is teeing off. I think the current rule is that the goalkeeper is allowed to hold the ball for six seconds before he has to leave his hand again. You should switch on the stopwatch to see exactly how many seconds the biggest time-wasters get. But the whistle blows after eight seconds? That’s not possible. Because the last time one of them lasted nine seconds. It’s common law in kindergarten. And nobody does anything about it.
(Note here: it was even recorded once and the “records” were shown weekly; the intention behind it: Scornful laughter in the direction of rule officials? Violation of the rules recognised, but no intention of doing anything about it? The worst thing about it is when it is used in the final phase of a game to “stall”; more on this in the corresponding chapter).
“Why are the children dancing on the tables here? Is that allowed in your country?” “Er, no, of course not. ” “Then why are they doing it?” “We forbade it, but they did it anyway. What were we supposed to do?”
One last example regarding the boundary shift, which is also merely an expression of helplessness on the part of the rules officials.
In the 60s there were duels, running duels, headers, tackles. These deserved the attribute “racy”. There were also press kicks, real press kicks, where both players went to the ball at the same time, just so that they didn’t want to hurt, but just wanted to play the ball. There was no doubt about it: all this was fine with the spectators, it was part of football, it was not only accepted as part of the game, no, it was part of this “men’s sport” (was it even allowed to be called that back then; is it no longer possible today?!), embodying part of the virtues associated with this gender.
If you look at the pictures from those days – moving or unmoving — you will notice that they earned the attribute “racy” because the arms were held against the body. According to the rules, the body was not only the part that was allowed to be used, it was also the part where one could rule out nasty injuries. Out of mutual respect, under no circumstances would one have “accepted” (as they say in modern German) that the opponent would be harmed.
The most important thing was to observe the rules, of which those of fair play were far too self-evident to need to be written down. At the same time, spectators had a fine sense of who was breaking the rules. They had to reckon with whistles that were much harsher in their significance than a yellow card awarded today. And a whistling audience may be the rule today – according to the opinion expressed here, one of the consequences is that the children are allowed to dance on the table and the fans also do it in the certainty that this is not about justice, which will not be reaped anyway — but at that time it was definitely felt as humiliating for the person affected by whistles.
The most important part here: the arms belonged to the body. It’s called football, although anything-but-arms-and-hands-ball would fit better, because precisely these two body parts — located on the same branch — are excluded. For playing the ball and for maltreating the opponent.
Only the 60s are over. Something has crept in over the decades, very gradually, more and more. At first, the children tried not to use the chair for sitting alone but began to tilt it carefully. An arm on the opponent when he couldn’t use it at all and the referee was in an awkward position? Couldn’t we give it a try?
Over the years and with experience, this limit was pushed further and further. Here and there someone noticed that something was not quite right, but there were no real sanctions. If someone was caught, he might have been given a yellow card. Well, you can live with that. The important thing was that the team won, right? First they tipped, then they climbed up, first onto the chair.
If you see a running duel today: there is no longer a faster or slower of the two, that has completely lost its meaning. The players run at about the same height and both have their arm or hand permanently in the opponent’s face. It is simply unbearable to watch. No one wants to see that. It’s called “ugly scenes”. And this may be reporter’s German, but the word “ugly” has been coined for precisely that which one does not want to see. By the way: the one who is actually quicker is the one who would gladly do without his hand or arm in his face. But if he didn’t, he would have lost anyway. The important thing is that there is an active part and a defending part. Usually, the active one is the defender who benefits at the same time.
In a header duel, you don’t just see arms and hands in the face, no, here it is preferably the elbow that proves its perfect suitability for breaking noses. And this is not only in exceptional cases. No, it happens almost daily, it happens all the time. It’s ugly, it’s brutal, and it doesn’t belong on the football pitch. Only there seems to be no remedy for it?
One reason is the continuous development. “If he was allowed to do that, then I’m allowed to do that.” And the boundaries are pushed very gradually. “If he was allowed to do that, then surely you can’t object to this?” Even if “this one” was a little bit more outside the rules. And indeed, one got away with it. The development is so unfortunate and went even further. Because: if a good footballer today wants to – or even has – made a point of sticking to the rules, playing fairly, not exploiting everything that is only recognised: victories, successes, then he will certainly be a good footballer and be held in high esteem by his team mates – but you will never get to see him. Because: he plays in the fifth league. When the chips are down.
There are no more Uwe Seelers, no more Gary Linekers and no more Marco Bodes, who hardly ever received a single warning, but were the last representatives of this type? Today there are tigers like Effenberg and his followers. “Beat them up, get a yellow, wipe your mouth, move on.” “Oh, was one of them carried off by the opponent in between? His problem and his bad luck.”
But the other reason is this: there are no sanctions adapted to the disgraceful behaviour. If you don’t want to see it, there will already be ways and means to prevent it. It is also not made good by always being able to say: “Here, both have fouled equally.” Then they both have to come off the pitch? Because: the scene was ugly, we don’t want that.
Finally, a few ideas should be presented on how to get the players out of the habit of breaking the rules, which is acknowledged to be undesirable, by guaranteeing that misconduct is no longer worthwhile. If there are transgressions – which cannot be ruled out for the time being – then the sinners should in no case gain an advantage from them.
If there is agreement that one does not want to see an emergency stop, it would be necessary to find a penalty that discourages the emergency brakeman from using it. So if it was a great goal-scoring chance that was prevented, but the foul play had taken place (even deliberately, as is common today?) before the edge of the penalty area, surely one could give red and a penalty? What would be so tragic, so undesirable, so “excessively harsh”, “double punishment” as a sword of Damocles? Why not let the poor sinners go on breaking their bones? If it was outside, you can think about sending them off. All right. But inside? You give a penalty, maybe, if you can bring yourself to do so. But to take him off the pitch as well? No, that’s not possible. Look, the poor guy just wanted to prevent a goal, that must be allowed, right? Where would we end up if there were goals all the time? The fans would run away in droves. Or, uh, hold on…
Alpay Özalan, if he had pulled the emergency brake, would not only have had to watch for the rest of the tournament – red for an absolutely ugly, gross foul of the category “but that’s not how it’s done” — but Croatia would also have been awarded the penalty. Would he have taken it then? No, because it would have been recognisably not worth it. So please do not say that there are no solutions.
The view expressed here, in two parts, is this:
Firstly, the players would very well understand and be guided by the fact that an emergency stop would harm THEM AND THE TEAM, so they would refrain from doing it.
Secondly, every friend of the game of football (excluding the “friend” of the team threatened by a goal against) would welcome it and appreciate the far greater number of exciting goal situations all around.
On the throw-in: remember the rule. Throw in where the ball has gone out. Otherwise the opponent has the ball. This is, so to speak, the “pre-bid rule”, which only needs to be implemented.
The same applies to the goalkeeper’s holding of the ball. And here is another example: when PSV Eindhoven needed a goal in an important elimination match (Euroleague) and the opposing goalkeeper regularly held the ball too long, a PSV striker dared to count the seconds with his fingers in the direction of the referee. When he reached about eight, it was not a free kick for PSV. No. That’s not how it goes, that’s not how it works. The referee felt patronised and rubbed the striker’s nose in the yellow. The result: more precious seconds passed, no goal, no free kick, a warning to make sure the real sinners were recognised, and PSV was eliminated.
The problem here is quite simple to describe: the striker was in the right. The rule is written down, six seconds. These are constantly exceeded, thus breaking the rule. How are you supposed to defend yourself? Not like that and not like that. You can’t do it like that, and otherwise you’ll never get your rights. It was once again the case that a rule violation brought the offender nothing but advantages. For the one who showed the violation of the rule, there were the disadvantages. Hardly necessary to mention: against the goal action, against the attackers, against justice anyway.
There is hardly any need to think about the questions “desirable?”, “fair?”. Only about: how do you get rid of that? Or: how do you get rid of what you wrote down with good intentions? The rule says: six seconds. Count them or assign one of the many additional officials to do it. Above all, make sure that the infringements don’t creep in gradually.
As far as fouls are concerned, there is this possibility, with reservations: as in basketball, add up the fouls. Team fouls and individual fouls. Reservation: all ideas for rule changes should be written in such a way that they can be implemented in professional and amateur sports. Especially for football, this is an important premise from a local perspective. That could be difficult with a single referee.
Alternatively, there is of course the idea of time penalties, depending on the severity of the offence. This, too, is not easy to implement, it must be acknowledged.
Another idea to cope with the flood of fouls: move the position of the free kick further forward, either according to the number of offences or according to their severity. Why should a free kick always be taken at the place of the offence?
The last suggestion is perhaps the most likely to be implemented, the problem here would rather be that of the penalty. “That was a lot of fouls, free kick from 24 metres.” or “That was a hard foul, free kick from 18 metres.”
Something like this, however, could certainly be tried out as well as pursued further. In other words, one collects ideas. Provided you have accepted the basic idea: Follow the rules and everything will go well. If someone doesn’t do it: he harms himself and the team. A “direct hit” would be guaranteed. Overall winner: football.