Everyone’s favourite leftist voice and crisp connoisseur Gary Lineker once described football as “…a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win”. But that saying may soon be redundant.
No, no one’s stopping Germany any time soon – I mean look at this – but the idea of a 90-minute football match might soon be a thing of the past. At least if one powerful body gets its way.
The International Football Association Board (Ifab) has proposed a number of dramatic changes to the beautiful game, chief among them reducing matches to just 60 minutes, with the clock stopped when the ball leaves the field of play, rugby-style.
In real terms, nothing ought to change – in regular 90-minute games, there tends to be less than an hour of ‘actual’ playing time (i.e. when the ball is in play), and the shortened games are intended to help cut down on teams time-wasting with substitutions, taking too long to take free-kicks and throw-ins, and so on.
The proposal comes as part of a strategy document entitled ‘Play Fair!’, which sounds like a CITV cartoon where a child footballer called Joe Fair saves the world by owning up to diving or grassing on teammates for off-the-ball fouls. Either that or it’s the next one of Theo Walcott’s books.
Other new ideas include penalties for a goalkeeper handling a backpass, which in fairness should bring about more of this…
Ifab also want to allow players to pass to themselves from free-kicks, and have floated the idea of players being able to take goal kicks with a moving ball. We’re looking forward to the logical conclusion: the game never stopping, and players dribbling the ball out of their own net after conceding.
In fact, let’s do away with full-time altogether and get teams playing football forever, until they physically can’t move anymore.
And why stop at two teams per match? Things would be much more efficient if all 20 Premier League teams played at once on neutral ground, wrapping the season up before August is over and giving us more time for those sweet, sweet international friendlies.
So, to recap, football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for the rest of their lives, stopping briefly whenever the ball leaves the field of play, and at the end, the Germans win.