image Offsides: a thing of the past?

Marco van Basten, hang your head in shame. FIFA’s technical director has unveiled radical new plans in a proposal which would see the fundamental nature of football changed. The Soccer Sofa discusses the most moronic of all the potential rule changes: the removal of the offside rule.

Really? Let’s sit back and imagine the game with no offsides. Each team would likely leave multiple players upfield, in the hope of winning the ball back deep in their own half and pumping it long, just so, in the words of van Basten, ‘there will be more goals’. Comparing football to hockey, he explained that if it works for them, it can work for us. Does it work for them, though? Football is a profoundly more popular sport that attracts fans from all over the world. Although hockey is a fantastic sport to watch and play, it simply pales in comparison to the popularity of football. More goals may be a good thing for hockey but in football goals are precious commodities, explaining why players show such exuberance in celebration.

We would not want to see more goals if it took away from the quality of the game. A defence-splitting pass, coupled with a perfectly timed run to beat the offside trap is one of the most pleasing things to witness on a football field. Eye of the needle passes would go extinct.

What about the defender’s right to play a high line against a target man? Taking away this right would see them drop extremely deep in order to counter the repeated runs in behind, with attackers knowing they never had to time a run again.

Free flowing counter-attacks would be a thing of the past, instead opting to ‘pump it long’ in the hope one of the three goal-hangers could retrieve possession of the ball and direct it goalwards. ‘Goal-hanger’ is a position when you’re 7, not for international footballers.

Van Basten said the rule change would be ‘very interesting’ to watch. Very interesting for one game maybe, until everyone realised how much worse off the game would be.

Adding goals to games would make the game more attractive to Americans with short attention spans, who seem only to be able to follow all action sport with advertisements every two minutes.

Intricate passes allowing teams to build an attack right the way through the team would vanish. Think Kevin-Prince Boateng’s sumptuous volley for Las Palmas earlier this season after a beautiful move from the rest of his team. Think Jack Wilshere’s sweet 1-2 finish against Norwich, winning goal of the month. Think Esteban Cambiasso’s all important goal in a World Cup against Serbia, after a 26 pass setup.


The game is branded ‘beautiful’ for a reason, let’s keep it that way.

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