I’m not sure how many people know what the Ifab is but, in case, like me, you aren’t too sure, I can confirm that it is the game’s law making body – the International Football Association Board (Ifab).
Ifab is made up of Fifa and the four British home football associations – of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and is responsible for making the final decision on law changes.
Former English Premier League referee David Elleray is Ifab’s technical director and has overseen the research, development and publishing of a revolutionary document which is proposing that football should scrap 45-minute halves! Several UK newspapers have mentioned the story recently.
They believe, and I must say I suspect most of us agree with them, that something needs to be done about the increasing tactic of time wasting when a team is hanging on to a point, or perhaps three points, desperately waiting for the referee to blow his final whistle.
The idea behind scrapping the two 45 minute halves and replacing them with two periods of 30 minutes is not as unreasonable as I at first thought it was. Now I’ve had a chance to consider their proposal and the hard statistics and facts behind it, I’m starting to think it may not be such a daft idea after all. This is especially so if it deters and cuts down on time-wasting, an often used tactic at the end of games which frustrates players and fans alike.
David Elleray explains: “ Referees, players, coaches and fans all agree that improving player behaviour and respect for all participants and especially match officials, increasing playing time and the game’s fairness and attractiveness must be football’s main priority.”
There would be a giant stadium clock, electronically linked to the referees watch so the thing about having two 30 minute periods is that the clock would be stopped whenever the ball goes out of play or the game is stopped for any reason.
I personally would also like the idea that works well in rugby whereby a hooter goes when the clock ticks time is up but play continues until the team in possession of the ball loses it. This could provide some great entertainment as a team with the ball desperately seeks a winning goal while the opposition just wants to get it to smash out of play. If they foul in efforts to win the ball then the other team has a free kick and so retains possession. Similarly there is a suggestion that referees can only blow for half-time or full-time when the ball goes out of play
The IFAB claim to have studies from numerous matches in all levels of football whilst keeping a finger on a stop watch and they have established that in almost every instance there is only about about 60 minutes of “effective playing time” out of 90.
The idea of the two 30 minutes halves is one of several put forward in a new strategy document designed to address football’s “negativities”. Another proposal in the document would see players not being allowed to follow up and score if a penalty is saved. If the spot-kick “is not successful”, play would stop and a goal-kick awarded. I would prefer for the ball to still be in play but the kicker cannot play the ball twice.
Again this addresses something I believe most of us feel is currently a bit harsh on any goal keeper who makes a stunning save, only for the ball to run free and the penalty taker slams it back into the net.
Another new rule being suggested is allowing players to dribble the ball when taking a free-kick. This would mean they could effectively pass to themselves.
By way of justifying these proposals Ifab claims it would help to fulfil their three main aims which are:
improve player behaviour and increase respect
increase playing time
increase fairness and attractiveness
At the same time they stress that they feel it is wrong on many counts that a 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of playing time because of stoppages and time-wasting. They further reckon that whilst their document is, at this stage, just one for discussion they say that some of the ideas could be brought in right away with no need for changes in the laws.
Warming to their argument they explain that most of their suggestions are designed to prevent time-wasting, which is generally accepted as a scourge of the modern game. These suggestions include much stricter observation by officials on the time which is frequently taken by players anxious to slow things down and to waste time.
These parts of the game include the six seconds goal keepers are allowed to hold the ball, the time taken between a penalty kick being awarded and it actually being taken and the time taken by an injured player in leaving the pitch. The clock would also stop from the moment a free kick is awarded to when it is actually taken.
The referees watch and the giant clock would also stop when a goal is scored and not restarted until the other side kick off. It would also be stopped to allow for time taken when referees show red or yellow cards, substituted players leave the field and their replacements come on.
Another, more simple and obvious idea which is being tested in the Confederations Cup is that only team captains are allowed to speak to the referee. This is clearly a step in the right direction. We are all fed up with referees being confronted and harassed by a baying mob of aggressive players bidding to influence his decision.
Another idea being suggested is that the order in which kicks are taken in penalty shootouts should be changed. Currently teams take the kicks in turns but the suggestion now is that it should perhaps take something from how tennis operates tie-breaks. This would mean the first team, let’s call it Team A, taking the first kick, then Team B taking two, then back to Team A taking two, and so on. I’m not sure whether it would make much difference but I suppose it removes just a little bit of the dreadful tension “sudden death” if a player misses.
Another suggestion that owes something to rugby where a referee can award a penalty try even if the line isn’t crossed. Now they are suggesting that football referees should be able to award a goal if a player stops one being scored by handling on or close to the goal-line.
Other ideas they have come up with, some perhaps worth considering and others I would suggest are quietly filed away in the nearest bin, include players being allowed to pass to themselves at free kicks, corners and goal kicks and also any player who scores or stops a goal with his hands is red-carded and a penalty would be awarded if a goal keeper handles a back pass or a throw in from his own team.
As I say, all of this is just a series of proposals at this stage but that’s how all the changes the game has undergone started out. In long-gone, by-gone days there was the alteration in the number of defenders needed for a forward to be considered onside then we had the abolition of the need for goal keepers to bounce the ball as they ran with it. More recently we’ve seen the arrival of the fourth official.
I’m pretty sure they all started out as ideas in a report such as this one….. so we’ve all been warned!
We have reached the semi- final stage of the Confederations cup, and has predicted the four teams to qualify are as much as suspected, Portugal v Chile will be a difficult one to predict therefore I am going for the draw over ninety minutes and would not be surprised if it went to penalties, Germany v Mexico is also problematic, I just prefer Joachim Loews team to pull off the result, a little worried over this inexperienced team ability under pressure but believe they have improved enough over the last few games to beat a difficult opponent in Mexico.
These two games and many others will be available on WSB for all your up to date prices.