5 Rules FIFA Should Change Before the 2018 World Cup
Now the dust has settled on the 2014 World Cup, Germany's celebrations have died down and all of the lessons have been learned from the competition, we are left looking at one of the best tournaments we've seen in the modern era.
Recent innovations like goal-line technology and the vanishing spray used for free-kicks helped make it a memorable four-and-a-half weeks in Brazil but could some rule changes have made it even better?
The World Cup will roll on to Russia in four years' time, but what should have changed in the game by then?
Here are five changes which could ensure that we see an even better tournament in 2018.
Create a Free Substitution for a Concussion
Germany's only black mark of the final came in the first half, when a blow to the head suffered by Christoph Kramer resulted in a concussion for 23-year-old Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder who was making his first start for his country.
Kramer, who was only starting the game because of an injury to Sami Khedira, played on for 12 minutes after colliding with the knee of Ezequiel Garay before staggering off dazed and confused in the 31st minute.
The obvious dangers of playing on following a concussion need to be more seriously examined in football, and after Kramer admitted, per The Guardian, that he can't remember anything about the final, perhaps the introduction of a free substitution on medical advice would ensure that such incidents don't happen again.
An independent medical check could be administered, with the information then relayed to the referee and the manager, who could make an additional substitution to add to his permitted three.
Allow Teams to Choose If They Want Three Goalkeepers
Only two teams in Brazil went through their full complement of three goalkeepers.
One was Portugal, who suffered injuries and went from Rui Patricio to Beto to Eduardo as they exited the tournament at the group stages. The other one was the Netherlands, who memorably replaced Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul for the penalty shootout against Costa Rica, before bringing on Michel Vorm for the closing stages of the third-place playoff in order to give everyone in the squad a game.
FIFA insist that each squad should contain three goalkeepers in their squad of 23 but surely that should be the choice of the manager to decide whether or not he needs that?
Get Rid of the Third-Place Playoff
This proposed change will surely have been suggested in articles similar to this one after each and every World Cup.
The third-place playoff retains its place as one of the more pointless fixtures in world football, a feeling which was given an added credence by the Netherlands' easy 3-0 win over Brazil this time around, as the hosts were still struggling to come to terms with the nature of their 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-final.
The World Cup isn't the Olympic Games, it doesn't really matter who gets the bronze medal, and the sooner FIFA realise this the better.
Increase the Number of Bookings Which Result in a Suspension
One of the key factors of that Brazil defeat to Germany was the absence of captain Thiago Silva through suspension, but should he have been banned at all?
The centre-back picked up his second booking in five games with the clumsy challenge on Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina in the quarter-finals. But, is missing a semi-final for two cautions in 450 minutes a little too harsh?
Perhaps the rule should be extended to three yellow cards in five games, or perhaps even two in six.
Change the Way the Golden Ball Winner Is Decided
Lionel Messi accepted the Golden Ball award at the end of the final with all the enthusiasm of a man being told he was just about to eat his last meal before heading to the electric chair.
The debate over whether or not he deserved the award has been raging ever since, and whilst that is of course a valid argument, it is the process behind him winning the award which should be both challenged and revealed.
In these technological times, perhaps an internet vote or a vote amongst every player who participated at the tournament would result in a more satisfactory decision, rather than this one which seemed to reward the most popular player.