Dominic Pollard takes up the mantle of ‘Rule Master’ able to alter the rules of football with just one click of his fingers and a sinister smile….
In the first of what will hopefully become an enriching series of posts, I, the Rule Master, am going to examine how the game of football could be revolutionised with the introduction of a range of different rules. Like Barry Hearn, John Douglas – the 9th Marquess of Queensberry – and Sepp Blatter all rolled into one, I shall break from our age old traditions and throw the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons to explore new ways of improving the supposedly ‘beautiful game’.
For this, the inaugural post of ‘Rule Master’, I am inspired by the fact that today is, in case you were for some reason blissfully unaware, Canada Day here in England. Now, what springs to mind when you think about Canada? Two things; maple syrup and ice hockey. Maple syrup, despite a lot of time wasted conceiving how it could be feasible, will not be featuring in this suggestion for a new footballing law. There is, however, something that can be taken from the sport of ice hockey – fighting.
For those of you unfamiliar with the way that fighting works within ice hockey, it is quite simple. The referees allow two players to fight one another in a relatively controlled environment. If two players have ‘beef’ then they are able to throw their gloves down and proceed to attempt to rearrange the other’s face so he can smell his own ear. After a minute or so, or after one player is beaten savagely to the ground, the referees step in and the two players are sent to the sin bin for ‘fighting’ which is classified as a ‘minor penalty’ and thus they must serve a mere two minutes before both being able to rejoin their team. The game resumes. The fans are entertained. The players are unfazed.
Let’s make one thing clear before any of you who have something against watching people getting punched in the face take exception to this idea. Fighting would, contrary to one’s initial reaction, almost certainly see unprofessional and unsporting behaviour on the pitch decrease.
It would allow for players to have an outlet to release frustration and settle disputes. In my opinion it would, in many ways, be like legalising Class C drugs – the pros would outweigh the cons. It would appeal to the most primitive instincts that we as the human race have. Similar to the popularity of the events that could be witnessed in the Coliseum in Rome, it would be an attraction that would add a touch more appeal to extortionate prices of tickets today.
It could also be a means of tackling acts of unprofessional or sporting behaviour. Imagine the prospect of Asamoah Gyan pulverising the face of Luis Suarez after that famous hand ball in the World Cup quarter final. That would be a beautiful thing to see. Likewise, imagine if Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane were just allowed to enter into a bout of fistycuffs without the inconvenience of a red card and subsequent fines and suspensions.
So, I hear you ask, how on earth could you implement a rule that would allow two players to fight on the pitch? Well, it would have to be a carefully trodden line. Importantly, both players would have to agree to enter a fight. This would not be an excuse for giant brutes to go round swatting smaller players, rather it would be a means of allowing two brutes to go head-to-head. Imagine if you will, Christopher Samba and Nemanja Vidic facing off while the game briefly pauses and fans and players alike turn to watch such a battle of epic proportions.
Now, as I say, this would not be a group brawl or a fight to the death, this would be a short interlude which would enable two players to settle their difference. Once the commotion had come to a swift end, the two would take ten minutes in a sin bin before then being allowed to return to field of play. This concept of creating a sin bin would mean that the punishment would not be severe enough to completely deter the players from ‘throwing down’ but the ten minutes off the pitch would have tactical repercussions which would add an extra tactical dimension to the game.
With all the bad habits that linger on in the game football, fighting would at least be far more obvious in its ugliness. Compared to surrounding referees, diving and sly slaps around the face, fighting would offer a refreshingly upfront approach to dealing with the petulant attitudes of the modern day prima-donnas. Rest assured, many of the smug, cocky players on a football pitch would be much quieter and better behaved if they knew that there was the possibility of Martin Skrtel rearranging their face to make them look like Martin Skrtel.
Let the hard men take each other on. Let the whining sods get taught a bit of respect. Let John Terry and Wayne Bridge finally do what we all want to see them do and attempt to remove each other’s head. The fans would love it and Mourinho could almost certainly use it as a new form of his tactical negativity. There are times when to effect change we must think outside the box. This is one of them. To tackle many of the game’s ugly problems there must be an ugly solution and fighting might just be it.
Are you with the rule master, or against him? (You should know Sepp Blatter is his friend. If you’re against him he’ll hunt you down and end you…smiley face!)