2010 FIFA World Cup: Soccer Needs a Change

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2010 FIFA World Cup: Soccer Needs a Change
Ian Walton/Getty Images

As an American who loves soccer, I have a very American perspective of the game. I understand that FIFA isn't going to give us instant replay (and I agree with the decision), but there are a few minor tweaks that would serve the beauty of the game well.

After watching the United States flame out of yet another World Cup, I've had a good amount of time to think about why people in America don't like the game. I think one of the main reasons is the time wasting that normally occurs without penalty.

I believe that the United States lost the game against Ghana because of poor finishing, poor defense, and a few poor tactical decisions. However, the final 25 minutes of that game highlighted everything that is wrong with time wasting. Here are a few issues and possible solutions.

Injuries - Some injuries are real, as soccer is an extremely grueling sport, and the players put their bodies on the line. This becomes an issue, however, when a player dives, looking like he has been shot by three snipers from three different spots, rolls around on the ground and writhes in pain, is carried off the field, only to hop up and be waved right back on by the ref. So a player can fake an injury to waste time, and in the long run, it doesn't affect the team at all.

Solution - After being on the ground for 10 seconds and failing to get up, a player is initially penalized by being forced to stay off the field for 30 seconds. For every five seconds he is on the ground after that, he has to stay off the field for an additional 10 seconds. The assignment of keeping this time can be delegated to the fourth official who is on the sideline.

The addition of this rule would provide a punishment for faking injuries by making the time wasting team play a man down for a certain amount of time, or by forcing them to use a substitution.

Substitutions - You may see a team substitute a player in stoppage time just to keep the ball out of play for a few extra seconds. Often the player will walk slowly across the field, shaking the hands of his teammates, stopping to cramp up, and even exchanging words with the referee. This allows 30 or more seconds to run off the clock and often, that time goes unaccounted for.

Solution - The player being substituted out of the game should be allowed to go to the nearest sideline or goal line to speed up the process. If the player fails to get off the field in a reasonable amount of time, say 10 seconds, the substitute coming in is held off the field until the next chance that the team can substitute.

Goal kicks and Throw-ins - You'll often see a player drop the ball and play with his shin guards before picking the ball up to throw it in. However, before he can throw it in, a teammate arrives beside him to take the ball from him before aimlessly looking around, then finally throwing the ball in at least 30 seconds later. The same happens on goal kicks as the keeper often moves the ball, and slowly walks back before finally approaching and kicking the ball.

Solution - Put a time limit on how much time the player has to get the ball back into the field of play. Much like the 24 second shot clock in basketball, why not put a 10 second shot clock from the time that a player touches the ball until the time it is in play. If the ball doesn't get into play in this amount of time, you can issue a yellow card to the offending player, and possession would immediately change.

While FIFA is probably too traditional to ever change these things, and people outside of America would throw a fit if they did, it would greatly help the popularity of the game here if FIFA would at least try and do away with the "art" of wasting time. I, for one, would enjoy the game much more without the constant time wasting.

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