UEFA Plans Controversial New Injury Rule to Punish Offending Players

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2014

Italian head referee Pierluigi Collina, right facing, talks to the press during a referee workshop before the Euro 2012 tournament, in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The championships, co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine will open in Warsaw on June 8. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Czarek Sokolowski/Associated Press

UEFA's head of officiating and legendary official Pierluigi Collina has confirmed plans are being made for new regulations that would see players guilty of committing a foul forced to leave the pitch until their "victims" were fit to return to action themselves.     

The current system, which sees the team committing the foul obtain a one-man-advantage for the duration of treatment has been labeled as "unfair," and the UEFA is looking into changing that, as reported by the Associated Press' Graham Dunbar, via Yahoo! News.

Collina was quoted as saying:

This is something that has gone on since (forever), I would say, but it's unfair. Football gives the advantage to the team of the player who committed a foul and is cautioned. Something has to be considered.

The Italian certainly makes a point. Unlike sports such as hockey, where offenders are punished with a period of time they need to spend in a penalty box, football has no systems in place to protect a team against a numerical disadvantage following injury.

Red cards are usually reserved for particularly cynical fouls, situations where a player has a clear chance on goal or accumulating yellow cards, and an injury is no guarantee for the guilty player to see a dismissal.

On top of that, a team that has already made three substitutions can no longer replace an injured player, effectively rewarding the opposing team for causing an injury.

Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

The new system isn't perfect, however, and in its current form, it would actively promote the idea of simulation.

A star player could effectively be eliminated by an opposing player "faking" an injury, or purposely extending the time he would need to be nursed back to health.

Not only would the system encourage certain players to greatly exaggerate the severity of an injury, but it could also even promote the idea of diving. Since the introduction of the automatic red card for an elbow-foul, players seem to have developed a tendency to go down as soon as they see an arm anywhere near their head.

Remember Cristiano Ronaldo and Giorgio Chiellini? KICKTV's Jimmy Conrad does:

UEFA President Michel Platini joined Collina in defending another project they wish to see implemented on every pitch in the worldthe five-referee system, currently used in UEFA competitions and 35 national leagues, including the Serie A.

As opposed to the traditional three-man crew used to officiate matches, the five-man system places an extra official on the goal line of every team, tasked with watching the goalmouths.

With these two officials concentrating on penalty decisions and play within the box, the assistants on the sidelines are free to shift all their focus on offside decisions.

It's a great theory, but as shared by The Guardian's Barry Glendenning, it's little more than that at this point:

The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson also agrees:

The goal-line officials have been heavily scrutinised since their introduction for doing far too little in some matches and being too eager to be seen in others, and their presence has not resulted in a visible decrease in questionable penalty decisions.

The UEFA deserves credit for trying, but if it truly wishes to eliminate bad calls from the sport, goal-line technology is the only possible answer.

This fan seems happy the upcoming World Cup will finally see its introduction:

Goal-line technology is the first step toward the use of instant replay, something FIFA and plenty of fans have traditionally opposed.

While there are plenty of arguments both for and against the introduction of such technology, UEFA's continued search for alternative means to make the sport more fair indicates Europe's leading football instance knows change is on its way.

It's good to see the UEFA working hard on improving the sport, but these latest proposed regulations will most likely not sit well with fans. Sooner or later, a decision will have to be made on whether Platini and company are ready to embrace technology, or whether the sport will stay closer to its roots.