Soccer can learn from hockey

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! Hockey has the best card system in the world of sport. The option of the green-yellow-red 3 card system provides the umpires with the tools to administer the appropriate penalty or reprimand at any stage of the match.

In soccer the two card (yellow/red) system creates gaps in the ability to sanction players which also sees inconsistencies in decisions early or late in games, as well as decisions that can irreversibly change the course of a game. This is often based on an interpretation of a tackle or professional foul.

In rugby the same criticism applies as soccer except that the ten minute sin bin is sensible and similar to the hockey situation.

However, there is no middle path between a warning with no card and a 10 minute sin-bin situation.

Whilst I believe an umpire or referee should not always have to resort to cards if he or she is really in control of the situation, cards are a useful tool or weapon in the referee/umpire’s armoury. The next subject where I believe hockey has a better approach than rugby or soccer is substitutions.

The rolling substitution can provide a coach with many more tactical options. In rugby the substitution situation has improved, especially with blood bin injuries (so teams are not left with less players).

In soccer, I believe they really need to review things. Early injuries to, for example, the goalkeeper can leave a coach with limited options.

It happened to Arsenal in their Champions League quarter final with Villarreal. Alumina (the goalkeeper), and Gallas (central defender) were injured early in the game which left Arsene Wenger with few options. Is this fair and reasonable? I think not!

Regarding the rules or laws (as Rugby calls them) it’s interesting that hockey has eliminated off-side but soccer has not. Rugby’s laws are far too complex as were hockey’s rules but these have been vastly improved in recent years.

Rugby, hockey and cricket all have access to video umpires to verify crucial decisions but soccer resolutely refuses to do so!

Video umpiring decisions and the delays that some time ensue is certainly an issue but this can be managed. The basic idea is to ensure the correct decision is reached reasonably quickly!

The Laws/Rules should be geared to ensuring the game is fair, safe, free-flowing (as few stoppages as possible) easily understood/interpreted and improves the game as a visual spectacle.

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