′60 minute matches′ to be considered in radical rules shake-up | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.06.2017
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'60 minute matches' to be considered in radical rules shake-up

Cutting the length of games to 60 minutes is among a crop of proposals up for discussion by football's law-making body. Its technical director David Elleray, the former English referee, is behind the 'quiet revolution'.

Football matches could be cut from 90 minutes to 60 minutes as a radical set of proposals are up for discussion by football's law-making body, the International Football Association Board.

Under the controversial proposals players would be allowed to dribble freekicks and corners to themselves instead of passing; the ball need not be stationary for a freekick; a penalty would be awarded for a goalkeeper handling a backpass; and a penalty goal could be given if an outfield player handles on or close to the goalline.

Awarding a penalty goal for handball on the line would have probably seen Ghana reach the 2010 World Cup semi-finals as Uruguay's Luis Suarez was sent off for handling Dominic Adiyiah's goalbound shot on the line in the dying seconds of extra-time -- Asamoah Gyan failed to convert the penalty and the South American side went on to win in the penalty shootout.

Fußball Weltmeisterschaft 2010 Uruguay - Ghana (Getty Images/AFP/F. Fife)

Under the proposals, Ghana would have been awarded a penalty goal for Luis Suarez's infamous handball at the 2010 World Cup.

Potential changes to timekeeping include the whistle only being blown for halftime and fulltime when the ball goes out of play; and using 60 minutes of actual playing time rather than 90 overall minutes as at present.

Teams could also be docked points for surrounding a referee.

Minor amendments include a goal kick not having to leave the penalty area before a defender touches it and a goal kick being awarded if a player misses a penalty kick, instead of any follow up being allowed - that would end the need for players to crowd on the edge of the box waiting for the rebound at a penalty.


'Quiet revolution'

"It is a radical document," Elleray told The Times newspaper. "You could say it is a quiet revolution aimed at getting football even better."

"My starting point was to look at the laws and say 'what are they for?' and if there is no particular reason then would changing them make the game better?"

A long-term supporter of video assistance for referees, Elleray believes trials are going well and improving behaviour.

"Players know they cannot get away with things such as violent conduct and bad tackles," he said.

The strategy document, called Play Fair, will be discussed over the next few months, before the 2018 IFAB annual general meeting, in March, which will decide which proposals should be trialled in competitive matches.

"The underlying philosophy of 'Play Fair' is a call to the conscience of everyone involved in football," said a statement on the IFAB website.


Cautious welcome

Several players, coaches and fans have given a cautious welcome to the '60 minute' proposal, with some claiming the change would actually increase the amount of football being played

Currently the clock is never stopped, even when the ball goes out of play or players are down injured. Referees add on time at the end but it never tallies to the actual amount of time lost.

IFAB says there could be two periods of 30 minutes with the clock stopped whenever the ball is out of play.

Arsenal goalkeeper and former Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech welcomed the idea, saying timewasting is a big problem in the current format given the clock does not stop.

"The game at this moment has 25 minutes of effective playing time per half so you would actually see more football," he wrote on Twitter.

The proposals at the moment are only for consideration and are part of a strategy document issued by IFAB called "Play Fair Strategy".

"I personally like this rule because there are so many teams who try to take advantage because they are winning and wasting time," former Italy striker Gianfranco Zola told the BBC.

mds/rd (AFP, DPA, Reuters)