Monday, 9 January 2017

Letter to IFAB, Part One - Abolish the yellow-red card

Last year in the course of a Twitter exchange, the International Football Association Board - Fifa's sub-committee that every year examines and then tweaks the Laws of the Game - invited anyone who was interested enough to send them suggestions for amending the way that football is arbitrated. I could have written a book, but instead I focused on a handful of my more radical notions.

The dynamic IFAB Committee, possibly
 looking unimpressed with my proposals
IFAB's Technical Director David Elleray courteously wrote back to say, "Thank you for your comprehensive list of suggestions – The IFAB Technical Sub-Committee is currently reviewing the Laws of the Game and we will bear in mind your suggestions. They will also be potentially discussed in our future revision of the Laws of the Game strategy."

I'm not holding my breath, so before my revolutionary manifesto ends up in a Zürich waste-paper basket I'll present my ideas here for discussion. Please bear in mind that these are ideas to kick-start a dialogue, not a blueprint that I would impose on football if I was suddenly elected Fifa president.

However, I do think that we need to be constantly looking at ways to make football a game that is
fairer, more entertaining, and easier to referee. IFAB's conservative approach not only lacks both daring and imagination, but often serves to unnecessarily complicate already tricky laws, such as offside. Perhaps a less fiddly, less technocratic approach is called for.

So, here we go. Suggestion Number One:

Proposal: The reduction of teams by one or more players due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Abolition of yellow-red card.
Reason: Only future opponents currently benefit from another team's foul play (in the form of suspensions for accumulated yellow cards). Under this proposal, teams accumulating too many yellow cards will be punished during the game when multiple offences are committed.
How it will work: After four yellow cards, a team will be reduced by one player (the player receiving the fourth card), and by one further player for each subsequent two yellow cards. The 'yellow-red' system would be abolished. Red cards unaffected - that is, a team reduced by one player for a red card offence will still be reduced by one player for receiving four yellow cards. A player who commits two yellow card offences may be allowed to remain on field (if his team has accumulated less than four yellow cards).
Consequence: A reduction in teams setting out to 'spoil' games; reduction in number of games that 'deteriorate'; reduction in foul play and an increase in positive, attacking football. 

Discuss, reject, tear apart etc. Suggestions 2-6 will follow in due course.

You can support this blog by buying Ian Plenderleith's latest book, The Quiet Fanhere.

1 comment:

  1. On a related note, today's Kicker welcomes the suggestion from Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann for a 'green card' - a five-minute time penalty for committing a tactical foul. The magazine's editor-in-chief Rainer Franzke writes: "The term 'tactical foul' linguistically softens what is a hugely unsporting offence. When this foul is committed the player and their team are cheated out of a skilfully created advantage. Sure, there's a yellow card, but the cheated team doesn't profit from it. A time-limited punishment, be it five or 10 minutes, would give the cheated team the chance to profit from their numerical superiority." He goes on to point out that the German FA had a 10-minute time penalty for yellow-carded players in its amateur leagues between 1978 and 1992, and that it was "successful". One of the "flimsy" reasons it was dropped, says Franzke, was that the muscles of the ordered-off player cooled down too much during the winter months. "The time is ripe for a return to this rule," he concludes. "Time penalties, regardless of the offense, make more sense than yellow cards, because they give the disadvantaged team the possibility of an advantage."