Former Dutch soccer star Marco van Basten, who is now a technical director at FIFA.
Former Dutch soccer star Marco van Basten, who is now a technical director at FIFA. Peter Dejong

Scrapping offside rule just pure lunacy

FOOTBALL: There must be something in the water at FIFA.

I am sure Gianni Infantino had a good head on his shoulders before he was given the top job at football's world governing body.

The same could be said for former world player of the year Marco van Basten, who is now a technical director at FIFA.

But after Infantino's proposal, which was later ratified, to increase the number of teams at the World Cup finals from 32 to 48, and now van Basten's latest ridiculous idea to scrap offside - among other things - I just wonder if part of the job description at FIFA is to see how far you can get with birdbrain schemes.

Here are the ideas that van Basten, a former top player with Ajax, AC Milan and the Netherlands, has put forward:

Restricting players to 60 games a year.

Replacing penalty shootouts with eight-second run-ups (similar to hockey).

Introducing orange cards to send players off for 10 minutes.

Scrapping offside.

Games of four quarters.

I am all for introducing new ideas to make football better and there appears to be some merit in the penalty shootout idea and the orange cards for a sin-bin.

But the one idea I just cannot believe van Basten is mooting is no offsides.

I know he was a former striker and a no-offside rule would obviously suit frontmen but really, I have never heard anything like it.

You might as well have schoolboys playing with a tennis ball on a playground at the World Cups if that is the way forward.

Coaching would go out the window and no player coming through the ranks would ever want to be a defender again.

Scrapping the offside rule could make soccer more visually appealing, Van Basten advises.

"Football now is already looking a lot like handball with nine or10 defenders in front of the goal,” he said.

"It's difficult for the opposition to score a goal as it's very difficult to create something in the small pieces of space they give you. 

"So if you play without offside you get more possibilities to score a goal.”

The whole point about football is that it is supposed to be hard to score goals.

And as a coach, it is a challenge to work out how to break down defences.

Making it more visually appealing I can understand, but a free-for-all in front of goal would make it even more boring because there would be no cat and mouse.

As for four quarters, as I wrote in a previous column, if it ain't broke just don't fix it.

Players do not need pampering any more than they already are.

Any changes to the laws of the game cannot be forced through by van Basten, however close he is to FIFA president Infantino, so that is a blessing. 

But the fact that someone like van Basten, a well-respected figure in the world game, is even mooting these changes, then I just wonder what we will end up with 20 years down the line.

Perhaps the next step is to remove goalkeepers - oh no, maybe I have drunk some of that FIFA water.


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