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FIRST TRAGEDY, THEN FARCE

 

If ever there was a tournament that left a nasty taste in the mouths of players and spectators alike it was the recent World Cup Soccer.

 

It's a poorly designed game, on a number of counts.

 

1.

It's too hard to score. They need either to increase the width or height of the goal posts or stick a couple of point posts on the side.

 

When Australian Rules Football did that they set a trend that soccer would have done well to copy.

 

Or, use the rugby field and the rugby goals. Six points to get the ball between the posts and under the bar, and one point for over the top.

 

 

2.

Because of the inability of teams to score goals there is a lack of discrimination in the scores between the winning and losing teams.

 

Australian Rules Football and the two rugby codes have a much more discriminating scoring system - ie more often than not the best team wins - not always - there are good luck and hard luck stories - but usually. 

 

In a rugby score of 40 to 24, people go away satisfied that the best team on the day won. In an Aussie Rules score of 95 points to 75, same thing. But when it's 1-0 as in soccer it frequently leaves a nasty taste in people's mouths - as it did frequently during the World Cup.

 

 

3.

It's frequently arse, not class that determines the result in many soccer matches. In the game between Australia and Italy it was definitely arse. An Australian falls over, an Italian jumps on him, kicks him and then gets a free goal from a trip - not just a free kick, but a free goal that wins the match.

 

In the qualifying game against Uruquay last November it was Australia's turn to have the sheer arse to kick an extra penalty goal. What a dreadful way to finish off a match.

 

It's bunkum

 

 

4.

The giving of penalty shots (free kicks in the goal area) in a game where, on the one hand it is so hard to score during the game and so easy to score from a penalty, perverts the course of fairness in this game even further. A free kick is, in all reality a free goal and in a game where it is too hard to score, and indeed, where there may be no score for 89 minutes, a free goal is not a fair way to end a game.

 

Most of these free goals come from mistakes by the defending team. No one in their right mind would deliberately go out of their way to deliberately foul someone so close to goal. In effect it is a bad rule that too often sees a goal scored for a mistake, not a professional foul. The penalty is doesn't fit the crime.

 

Lucas Neill made a mistake. It should not have cost Australia the game - or the tournament. It's a poor rule that has no place in a game designed to sort out by fair means who is the fairest and best team.

 

But it's worse than that. Lucas Neill falls over. An Italian player jumps over him, kicking him on the way through and gets a free kick, a free goal and a free world cup.

 

Quite frankly, I was waiting for one of the Australian players to take a swing at the umpire. They had nothing to lose. Viduka said he was disappointed at the way the game ended. He should have said he was bloody angry that they'd been robbed by a bad law and crook umpiring and that he was going to start a movement to change bad laws into better laws. Until that happens these things will continue to plague the game, and players and supporters alike will go away from many more matches in foul moods.

 

SOME RULE CHANGES

 

1.

Put the penalty spot back another 10m to even up the competition between the kicker and the goal keeper. By all means give out free kicks, but don't, at the same time give out free goals.

 

 

2.

Get rid of off side. In a few short months teams will have developed a strategy to deal with the change.

 

 

3.

Either make the goals wider or higher, put in some point posts and make a goal 6 points and a point 1 point; or use rugby goals.

 

 

4.

At the end of extra time, have sudden death time. If the goals were a bit higher and/or wider it wouldn't take long for a team to get a few points. To even things up, the winner should be the first team to get two points ahead.

 

 

5.

Keep changing the rules to move with the times.

  

I'm all for a new and improved game of Australian Rules Soccer. I think it would be a goer.

 

It's bunkum

Frank Blunt

Syndicating columnist

Bunkum.com.au

July 2006