Calling time on extra-time
FIFA president Sepp Blatter is well known for coming up with some odd ideas and this latest seems as strange as any.
Blatter has admitted that there was too much negative football at the World Cup and believes that one way of improving things would be to scrap extra-time after drawn knockout matches.
Admittedly, this would seem to be a slight improvement on his suggestion last month, during an interview with the German magazine Focus, that drawn matches in the group stage should be settled by penalties. But at first glance there does not seem to be much else to recommend it.
The logic behind Blatter’s thinking is that when extra-time gets under way, teams often prefer to take their chance on penalties and shut up shop. So he reckons we might as well get straight on with penalties rather than waste another 30 minutes of everyone’s time.
In fact, this has long happened in two of South America ‘s most prominent competition, the Copa Libertadores. The result, at least until the away goals rule was introduced in the competition, was that more games went to penalty shootouts and teams played even more defensively, knowing that they only had to get through 90 minutes rather than 120.
Interestingly, Blatter has craftily evaded talking about the existence of penalty shootout itself.
Loathed by many supporters, the shootout has managed to establish itself as part of the game and now appears untouchable. But maybe there are better alternatives which may force teams to attack if they want to win the game: corner counts have been suggested, as has reducing the number of players in extra-time to open up the match.
In one unforgettable experiment in Brazil , yellow cards were used to decide who won drawn matches in the Rio-Sao Paulo tournament. This brought even the most boring 0-0 draws to life, with bookings celebrated like goals and waves of expectation every time a player committed a bad foul as the crowd waited to see if he would get booked.
Another possibility is just to play on until a team scores, even if the players are falling like flies on the field.
A rather odd one, perhaps, but no worse than Blatter’s suggestion, wouldn’t you say?