The World Cup is now in full swing, and my sports gambling addiction is trudging along with it. I've lost most of my bets, but some of soccer's rules are almost as annoying to me as losing money. I'm not trying to be one of those stereotypical Americans who just hate on soccer all the time, but if they want to keep my and others' attention, they'll make these changes. Hopefully whoever is in charge of the World Cup's rules is reading this.
1. Time Limit On Putting The Ball Back In Play
Like many of the rules I don't like, this one deals with teams wasting too much time when they're winning toward the end of the game. One of the biggest complaints about soccer is that there isn't enough scoring. Having the winning team hold the ball before a throw-in for 20 seconds isn't helping this problem. There's already a six-second maximum for goalkeepers getting rid of the ball (which isn't enforced, but should be), so why not apply that to free kicks, goal kicks, corner kicks, and throw-ins? Most people don't want to watch some Spaniard survey the field for half a minute when the other team could be getting shots off. This would also lessen the need for stoppage time, which elongates the game—another common gripe with soccer among casual fans. It would make games more fast-paced and create more shots, both of which would make watching soccer more exciting.
2. Automatic Yellow Card For Flopping/Embellishment
As it stands, anyone who takes a dive without being touched gets carded automatically. This is too soft, though, because some players like to curl up and roll for 10 yards if an opposing footballer brushes big toes with them. Referees should be allowed to review these kinds of plays, and if it is deemed that the player who went down was doing an acting job, it should be a yellow card, no questions asked. This would take care of another massive issue that fans take with the game; no one wants to watch a bunch of grown men flop for 90+ minutes.
3. Pulling The Goalie
When a team is down late and setting up for a free/corner kick, many coaches will send the keeper up toward the box to try and get a late equalizer. This is a good strategy, but it would be more entertaining if the coach put another skill player up there instead. The current rule states that anyone who comes in for the goalie has to wear a different jersey than his teammates and can touch the ball with his hands inside his own goal box; in other words, he's just another goalie. But what if the goalie could be subbed for another striker who had the same responsibilities as any other skill player? I'm talking no different colored jersey and no hands. It would add more thought to the strategy of moving the keeper up in late-game situations because it would allow the leading team to boot one all the way down the field in an attempt to ice the game. It would also make for more quality shots from the losing team, which creates a more exciting game and a better chance of overtime (or a draw, which is also lame. No sport should be able to end in a tie).
Long story short, soccer has some lame rules that turn viewers away, especially in the US. Games are often too slow to really get into, and the leading team has some easy ways of icing the game by eliminating some potential late-game excitement. International fans would not stop watching if these changes were made, and more Americans would tune into the sport. Sounds like a win-win; wouldn't you agree, Mr. Infantino?