World football’s rule-makers are to consider a proposal to reduce each half of a game to 30 minutes in a bid to prevent time-wasting.
The International Football Association Board (Ifab) has outlined a raft of radical proposed changes to the rules of the game in a new strategy document titled Play Fair! Adopting two halves of 30 minutes with the clock stopped when the ball goes out of play is one of dozens of ideas put forward by Ifab in an attempt to make football more attractive.
Ifab says the Fair Play! document has three aims – to improve player behaviour and increase respect, to increase playing time and to increase fairness and attractiveness. “Many people are very frustrated that a typical 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of effective (actual) playing time (EPT) i.e. when the ball is in play,” Ifab said in the document. “The strategy proposes measures to reduce time-wasting and ‘speed up’ the game.”
Ifab said some of the proposals could be implemented immediately and require no law changes, while some are “ready for testing/experiments” and some are “for discussion”.
Among the ideas up for discussion is that of a player being allowed to pass to themselves at a free-kick, corner and goalkick, a stadium clock which stops and starts along with the referee’s watch, and allowing a goalkick to be taken even if the ball is moving.
Other ideas up “for discussion” include referees blowing for half-time or full-time only when the ball goes out of play, and a penalty kick being either scored or missed/saved, with players not allowed to follow up to score, in order to stop encroachment into the penalty area.
Plans which need no law changes mostly apply to Ifab’s bid to combat time-wasting. The document says match officials should be stricter on the rule which allows goalkeepers to hold the ball for six seconds.
Ifab suggests match officials should be stricter on time-keeping, stopping their watch from a penalty being awarded to the spot-kick being taken, from a goal being scored until the match resumes from the kick-off, and from the signal of a substitution to play restarting.
The proposals already being tested include the idea of only allowing captains to speak to referees to prevent match officials being mobbed. This is being trialled at the Confederations Cup in Russia, which started on Saturday.
Another proposal already being tested is a change to the order of penalty kicks in shootouts, known as ABBA. Instead of teams taking alternate penalties, the new system involves team A taking the first kick, then team B taking two, then team A taking two.
“The ‘first’ kick in kicks from the penalty mark has a built-in advantage primarily because there is greater mental pressure on the second kicker (in each round) who often faces instant elimination if they miss their kick (especially once the first four kicks for each team have been completed),” the document says.
Ifab is made up of world football’s governing body, Fifa, and the four British home football associations and is responsible for making the final decision on law changes. The Play Fair! document will be discussed at various meetings before decisions are taken on whether to develop ideas further or discard them.