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The changes I would make to football

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Roar Rookie
26th January, 2020

While watching the Melbourne City vs Perth Glory game on the weekend, I was feeling slightly aggravated each time Tony Popovic was seen to be encouraging the match officials to brandish a card to the opposition.

Of course it is possible that he wasn’t doing anything of the sort but the commentators had him banged to rights on a number of occasions. It is something we see regularly in leagues across the world.

All I could think of at the time was that football could be so much better without that sort of behaviour from players and coaching staff alike.

Then it crossed my mind that the ultimate irony would be that anyone found to be encouraging the referee to show a yellow or red card would automatically receive one themselves and maybe that little piece of irony would help to eradicate an ugly part of the game.

Some strange part of the brain then took over as the under-23s battled to a hard-fought win over Uzbekistan as I wasn’t finding the game particularly gripping. And these were the other changes – some not too serious – that I would make for the good of the game.

Football generic

(Tony Feder/Getty Images)

I want five substitutes to become five unlimited replacement players. By all means keep the three from five rule but allow a rotation of players on the field.

Could this change tactics and maybe at times make things more exciting or deadly dull? Losing 1-0 with minutes to go, there is an opportunity to throw three extra attackers on the field in exchange for defenders or even the goalkeeper, or perhaps three defenders come on to nullify the opposition.


We’ve all wondered what the game would look like without the offside rule and many of us have engaged in discussion over the odd glass of ale as to how it could be improved. At the very least, make it so there has to be daylight between the second last defender and the attacker although assistants will still get it wrong.

How about two ten-minute periods where there is no offside? Would we really see 50-metre kick-and-chases? I doubt it but I would love to know.

Hugging and tugging – especially at set pieces – needs to go. How about arms wrapped around a player or wrestling a player to the ground means a red card? It will create further controversies but might begin to change player behaviour.

Make direct free kicks exactly as they sound. No player wall, nobody from either team in between the spot and the goal if the player taking the kick goes for goal. Would it change training regimes or have clubs recruiting dead-ball specialists a bit like a field goal-kicker in NFL?

Bring in a sin bin for dissent. Let the referee do the job they are employed for. Dissent is ugly so off to the bin for ten minutes, adjudicated by the fourth official. Would that see an improvement in behaviour?

I’d love to see an end to the practice of taking the ball to the corner flag near the end of the game and to re-establish time-wasting consequences. And while we are about it, outlaw the practice of shielding the ball without touching it, so you actually have to play at the ball. This is thoroughly frustrating at times.


This article is not meant to be totally serious. These are just some weekend musings that might stir up some other equally crazy, silly or outrageous ideas.