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There was plenty to be annoyed at at this past World Cup; tender Frenchmen complaining that their abject failure was due to plastic horns, delicate sportscasters complaining that said plastic horns obscured their Very Important Commentary, a supposedly possessed ball that stymied the world’s best players (yet somehow allowed for passable football when used all season long in MLS?), some nearly avant garde refereeing, and, most notably to results-driven American viewers, a preponderance of drawn matches, many of the dreaded scoreless variety.
UEFA, as well as many regional FA’s, have already banned the horns in all European competition, and most pros are back to kicking whatever Nike Intimidating Combat-Related Name ball they’re used to playing with, but the last two problems still remain in international competition. But instead of considering any sort of electronic accountability for referees, the main source of hair-pulling/greying for most at the World Cup, FIFA is tackling the non-problem. Sepp Blatter says they’re thinking about: no draws in group stages, no extra time, just penalties after 90 drawn minutes. While, yes, weak teams seemed to be playing for the draw to grab a point, I’m not sure that a win/lose match would necessarily make a once squamish team suddenly take up a rock and start aiming at Goliath’s head. Spain, Germany, Argentina,
England, these are terrifying opponents, football machines that control space and time when in top form, and your Switzerlands and Honduri would probably play defensively no matter what, mainly because they don’t have time to actually win the ball to play offense.
The only idea of worth in Blatter’s proposal is the reinstatement of the Golden Goal (Sudden Death for those into tuff talk). PKs should only be a desperate last measure, brought out with unanimous player/coach/referee/attendee/television viewer consensus once 3 or 4 days of play time has passed without score. Then, sure, get the 3rd string goalies and the Under-16s to come out and shoot it out as the first teams are hospitalized for exhaustion. After all that football, why decide with a lottery? Golden Sudden Goal Death would have allowed Croatia to sneak past Turkey and lose to Germany in 2008, after all, and I missed a secret quasi-Yo La Tengo set at Terrastock for it.