Last week, UEFA President Michel Platini called for the introduction of ‘sin bins’ in football, as well as an extension of the number of permitted substitutions from three to five. Since being voted into his position as head of European football’s governing body, Platini has adopted a progressive stance with regards to the laws of the game. As well as the use of sin bins and additional substitutions, the former French international would like to see an end to the law stating that a player should be sent off for ‘denying a goal scoring opportunity’.
In the spirit of Platini’s forward-thinking nature with regards to how our game is played, Supporters Direct Scotland have taken a look around the world of sport and compiled a list of other laws that could be incorporated into football.
Sin bins – Rugby
This has proved to be a popular concept in rugby, with players being temporarily sent from the field of play upon receiving a yellow card. Offences deemed violent or dangerous can result in such a punishment, as can repetitive commission of a specific offence. A 10 minute period in the sin bin must then be served.
This is not too dissimilar to Platini’s suggestions, with the exception that the UEFA President wishes to reserve such a punishment purely for verbal dissent, with physical offences remaining within the referees scope of yellow and red cards.
Coach/Player challenges – American Football/Tennis
In the NFL, at any time before the two-minute warning of each half or overtime period, the head coach of either team can signal a challenge by throwing a red flag onto the field. He’s allowed only two challenges per game, but if both challenges are successful, he’s given a third. He must issue his challenge before the next snap of the ball.
The use of Hawk-Eye technology in Tennis allows players to challenge the umpire’s or line judge’s decision as to whether a ball landed in or out of the court. A successful challenge will allow the player to keep all his or hers designated challenges, while an unsuccessful bid will see the player lose one challenge.
Implementing this into football has been suggested before. The introduction of goal line technology has prompted some within the game to suggest that it is extended to other areas of the field and that managers could be afforded a finite amount of challenges to be used on decisions such as free-kicks, penalties and even corner-kick/throw-in decisions.
Penalty shot – Ice Hockey
This is awarded in ice hockey when a player is denied a scoring opportunity by an opposing player. The skater that was impeded then has the opportunity to score – starting at centre ice and ensuring that the puck is continually moving forward.
Such a shoot-out method has been adopted in football before, in the now defunct North American Soccer League (NASL) – although hockey extends the procedure to in-game infractions, rather than just end of match shoot-outs. One of the arguments for this method is that is more closely replicates an in-game scenario, as to opposed to taking a penalty in the stationary fashion as is tradition. Another quirk of the penalty shot in the NHL is that the player who has ‘drawn’ the penalty must then take the shot, as opposed to teams having designated takers.
Whether any of these initiatives would work in football remains to be seen. As FIFA and UEFA have shown, they are relatively slow to embrace new technology and alternative ways of thinking. With any new idea, the full effect can only be seen when experimented with practically, rather than just theoretically. Perhaps a brief trial period for sin bins, as we have seen with additional referee assistants and ‘invisible’ spray would prove successful. Only until steps are made to fully explore new avenues in improving football, will we see what works and what is best left to the drawing board.