The question is laughable as football’s popularity continues to break all records, but are cracks appearing? A close examination of what is happening on the field of play may reveal where football is heading.
Correspondents to US soccer magazines complain bitterly that soccer has become completely defence minded and that the mounting number of tedious results is seriously damaging the game reflected in poor television viewer figures. Here in the UK we are perhaps more concerned about breaking down defences.
The science of defence tactics has reach near perfection and if a team lacks a talented striker or two but is well practised in the art of blanket defence strategy, the best teams in the world will find it difficult to break down such defences.
The recent England v Montenegro nil-nil result demonstrated that the well rehearsed and well trained Montenegro defence plan was the reason why a top class team such as England was completely frustrated and the match reduced to one big bore, as disgruntled supporters departed in droves before the end of the game.
Every sport has its popularity peak. For example darts, wrestling and snooker all had a period of riding the crest of the popularity wave, and now they are just surviving.
Association Football may feel secure at the top, but growing negativity and increasing disappointment experienced by spectators and television viewers will take their toll.
As more and more teams become proficient at blanket defence play, complaints from the USA may serve as a warning for football authorities to clean up the game. Otherwise decline in popularity is inevitable.
A new team sport has been launched on the Internet entitled Modern Soccer that youngsters would find a challenging and exciting game and it will appeal to education authorities because of its strict discipline. It is a super version of Association Football with most if not all, of the negative aspects removed and the positive elements that please players and spectators greatly enhanced. This combination produces a level of the sport that present-day football simply cannot match.
Modern Soccer utilises the pitch and kit of football. The field markings are similar except that the pitch is divided into four quarters with the inner two quarters forming the Midfield. The centreline and centre circle markings are dotted because they are only used for starting and restarting games. The Midfield area is known as the Free Play Zone, where the Match Referee applies less vigorous enforcement of the rules and where all stoppages are minimised and offside rules do not apply.
Introduction of a Midfield also moves open play closer to both goal areas and, with other rule changes, creates more goal scoring opportunities than occur in Association Football.
There are no yellow cards; these have been replaced by a Penalty Bench (or Sin-Bin). Players guilty of both petty and more serious fouls after possible verbal warnings serve a five or ten minute penalty in the Sin-Bin.
This is a godsend as it empowers referees with authority, since in Modern Soccer the loss of just one team player unbalances the contest for a goal scoring opportunity for the opposition to occur. Team coaches and players will soon learn that petty fouls demand a high price and in many cases cost a goal against the offender’s team, which incidentally allows the offender to return to the field.
Discipline is further enforced because any player who speaks adversely or protests or shows dissent towards a referee official incurs the penalty of a red card sending-off offence. Only the team captains are allowed to speak to the referee but they must never question a decision as the referee’s decision is absolute and final. This rule is strictly enforced and players who are accustomed to admonishing referees in the old game soon learn a lesson or two.
Fortunately, youngsters growing up with the new sport will be accustomed to obeying referees’ decisions and less likely to become involved in petty fouls or cheating.
The high energy effort is brought about by increasing a team to 22 players, 11 of which are the First Selection Team (FST) and 11 are substitutes. Each FST player has his or her own substitute. Every player and substitute has a fixed field position and substitutes are free to exchange at any time without the referee’s permission. This is regulated via an Exchange Area procedure.
There are many more rules, all of which are designed to provide the necessary means to allow players to demonstrate their skills and enjoy the sport. They will provide spectators and television viewers with greater thrills and excitement than present-day football can possibly offer.
Minor injuries are treated on the field and in many cases without stoppages. Sin-Bin offenders are often dispatched while play continues. Reference to www.modern-soccer.com reveals more details and sets out the rules.
The best total blanket defence and game management tactics will have difficulty in combating deserving attack plays and it will soon be realised that attack in Modern Soccer is the best form of defence.
Ultimately the new game offers players and spectators a high-energy fast-pace open game of pure soccer, with strict discipline and fewer stoppages. It is a game that will appeal to youngsters, with whom Modern Soccer’s future lies. The question arises: is football on the way out? Perhaps not, but unless FIFA gets rid of growing negativity new forms of soccer will arise to compete.