In today’s current footballing climate, where the days of gentlemanly handshakes and good sportsmanship are seemingly becoming a thing of the past, it’s hard to imagine watching a full 90 minutes without the play being interrupted by a series of testing external influences.
Shameless playacting, blatant diving, obvious time wasting, and off-ball incidents are fast becoming major hallmarks of the world’s favourite sport, and if a slight shift in perspective isn’t perhaps reached soon, the actual game of football itself may lose the chance to reach its full potential.
Yes – the sport runs pretty well on good days, with the excitement and sensation of a 90 minute football match generally remaining unmatched by any other sporting spectacle across the board, but that’s not to say that the game as we know it must stay this way forever. In order to iron out all the silly behaviour that shines the game in a particularly undignified light, maybe other sporting practices can provide the way forward.
Perhaps rugby, with its somewhat middle-class charm, has something in its make-up that could really see the game of football improve tenfold. Obviously the two sports remain polls apart in terms of style, but as FIFA’s recent adoption of goal-line technology proves, it’s never too late for football to learn something new.
While it is not unanimously felt among all football fans, the game is becoming increasingly plagued by underhanded tactics that are designed to mislead the referee and produce an unfair advantage over the opposition. Every team wants to win, and sometimes you just can’t blame certain players for making mistakes in the heat of the moment, but when notions such as diving and time-wasting become methodically preconceived aspects of a team’s tactics, something is just not quite right with the sport.
Football can really learn a lot from rugby in terms of discipline. For the most part, rugby players are simply a lot more civilised when dealing with the referee. When watching a match, it becomes clear that the referee is in direct charge, and while this is also supposed to be the case in football, it just isn’t the same when compared with how rugby players operate. They often refer to the ref as ‘Sir’ and very rarely send a tirade of abuse towards the officials just over a simple disagreement.
The sin-bin also seems like a sensible idea that could be employed within the game of football. While it would perhaps give the game a bit more of a reasoned approach, with important matches not being solely hindered by unjust dismissals, you couldn’t help but feel that something would be lost on us if multiple offenders could simply walk back onto the field after creating a ruckus. Maybe with a slight re-think however, the sin-bin could in fact go a long way in football.
The ‘Beautiful Game’ would benefit from rugby’s stop-clock system as well. It’s a simple way of going about timing a match that makes the system in football seem not only outdated and old-fashioned, but also just a bit wrong. If a stop-clock was brought into the Premier League, ugly aspects such as time-wasting and feigning injuries would literally disappear overnight, as their influence on the moving clock would no longer have effect if it were stopped during breaks. There wouldn’t be any advantage to acting in such a way, and with the abolition of any more ‘Fergie-time’ pursuits after the 90 minutes is up, a lot less complaining would be involved in regards to extra-time.
It must be remembered however that rugby has not been without its respective problems in recent years. Match-fixing has been an unfortunate development throughout the history of the sport, violent on pitch bust-ups have left some players a little too worse for wear, and as for the notorious ‘Bloodgate’ incident of 2009, rugby has proven that its participants can be just as hungry to win, and just as ready to cheat as their footballing counterparts.
Although European sporting bodies can definitely take many lessons from the sport of rugby, the unmatched intensity and rapid flow of a football game makes it hard for it to be officiated in the same way as other sports. That said, while the two games are played by a seemingly different ‘type’ of person in many cases, football cannot be acting too big for its multi-coloured boots, as it is simply never too late to learn, and never too late to improve the sport for the better.