This World Cup saw goals at a premium (2.3 goals/ match), a record number of yellow and red cards, and diving as a universal disease. Even the Africans tried their luck at selling it to the referees and succeeded. Pimpong flopped when Onyewu barely touched him, and Marcus Merk bought it in the Ghana vs USA match. Steven Appiah scored the PK and sent the US home. Much of these dives and flops happen because that first goal is so important. It overwhlemingly favors that team about 90% of the times. The 5-4-1 formation stifles any attack unless it happens to be the Serbia and Montenegro defence. Chances of scoring are now far and few in between. The soccer player of today not only has to learn his soccer skills but he is also a lawyer learning how to bamboozle the jury or in this case the judge into believing that his client has been victimized. There is a great video of Cristiano Ronaldo diving onto the ground and while doing so he turns to look at the referee with stricken eyes. He was virtually begging the referee for a foul. It was so pathetic. Ronaldo scored one goal through a PK for all that fancy footwork.
So lets see what we can do. In many matches we noticed that the pace considerably picked up when the team lost a player due to a red card. In fact, the soccer seems to become far more free flowing. Portugal picked up after Costinha was booted out in the Netherlands game. The same happened for Netherlands when von Bronckhorst was evicted. For long spells the same happened in the Italy vs the US game when De Rossi was chucked out. The US looked good when Larrionda decided that he wanted to see Bocanegra's back. The reason was that every player was forced to give up the conventional striker-midfield- defender role and play something close to total football. The midfield was less clogged up and there were more opportunities to break free.
> So let us reduce the number of players. Let us go one better. There should be nine per side. This means that the players will have to be protean. They have their strengths be it on defence or attack or controlling the flow of play but they can switch to any mode on contingency. Having a 4-3-1 does not sound so bad because it means that we can be versatile with more space in the middle with more overlapping. Imagine what a Riquelme could have done with that space?
> To offset fatigue, the number of substitutions should increase. In fact, there should be no limits to substitutions. It has to be a dynamic flow and go. You can send in or off three at a time. In fact, Beckham who disappears for 89 minutes in the game could be brought on in free kick or corner kick situations. This is absolutely tenable because Beckham very rarely creates free or corner kick situations. Having Beckham collapse into tears was so painful to watch. Here was a player who did not understand why he had to play 90 minutes of a game. You could easily bring him on for a couple of minutes and he would do as much damage the entire match. Meanwhile a flying Aaron Lennon would have created about 15 free kick situations.
> Let us get the coaches involved shall we? You often times see Big Phil Scolari getting up and gesturing impotently with his hands. He wants to give instructions but he can't. There are no time outs. A limit of two should suffice. The coach has seen enough that his attack is not going anywhere or that his defence is giving too much space to the attack and calls a timeout. Regroup and refocus. This takes care of those spells where soccer seems to be going nowhere. Or those Frank Lampard moments where the blasting of the ball has a negative correlation to the distance and the target it needs to achieve. Sven if he was the counselling type could have just said, "Steady on son, just do what you did at Chelsea."
> Video review. When Fabio Grosso dives and the Italians are awarded a penalty kick against the Socceroos, then Guus Hiddink is entitled to a review. Or when Malouda sold the foul to Horacio Elizondo against Materazzi that led to Zidane's PK, then Lippi should have been allowed to roll tape. Or a goal awarded when it was clearly an offside, eg., Thierry Henry against Brazil, when Viera was offside. Or when the expulsion of a player happens on a dubious foul. Two reviews per game. This is not too much to ask for.The problem is that the referee is the final arbitrator in soccer using very subjective measures which is truly frightening. He rarely consults with the other linesman, has no video review, and magnifies or misses fouls left, right, and center.
> A referee runs on an average 7 miles a match and he is usually a lot older than the players. If God could be anything it would be a soccer referee, having to be omniscient as well as omnipotent. Not possible in this day and age, when Theo Walcott can run the 100 meters in less than 11 seconds. We also cannot hope to have a PierLuigi Collina like personality that can bark something from one corner of the field and have every player run for their lives. So lets give the referee a running partner. Another referee. 18 players and two referees on the field sounds like a proportional amount. Of course, it would never do to have Graham Poll and Valentin Ivanov on the same field. Having 54 yellow cards and 15 red cards and still have 20 players on the field would stretch the limits of human imagination and Timothy Leary.
> Lets make the ball less aerodynamic. Everybody wants to join the space club. We had so many balls sailing over goal it seemed like every country's space program wanted to outdo the other. Leg strength has gone up not down. We have balls that shift weight if you look at them funny. Lets give soccer balls a reality check. The idea is not to hit home runs and look chagrined after that. The idea is to get the ball into the back of the net and look happy that your high school knowledge of Newtonian physics stood you in good stead. So Adidas lets get back to the ball of the 1970's. That is when the ball stuck to your feet and was not an unruly dog having to be yanked back by a leash all the time.
Thew, Tilam, SteveA, Dave, Christian, Zach, and the rest, please throw in your ideas too. Cruzeiro and Humberto, Brasil and Argentina will be back. Thew had mentioned the offside rule and maybe something could be done about it as in the present circumstances the rule seems quite contrived, and it should be changed to benefit the striker. If the pass beats man to man coverage, maybe it should be allowed? After all it is a test of reaction time and then a foot race. If you are quicker why should you suffer?