Ngiya bonga South Africa

That’s the World Cup over with for another four years. The past month has seen some sublime moments of football1 intermingled with the ridiculous and I don’t think that the higher echelons of the game will ever be the same again.

I had an feeling before the matches started that FIFA’s obstinate stance on introducing more technology into the game would become untenable. Their argument that the game should be the same at all levels just doesn’t wash. For a start, the game as played at the top level is already very different from the games played in Sunday league matches around the world. No club tennis player – or umpire – expects to have Hawkeye adjudicating during their rallies.

This isn’t just a bitter England fan speaking after Frank Lampard’s non-goal so I’m not about to argue that the outcome would have been different – England’s capitulation was nothing short of embarrassing.

The goal scored by Tevez despite being blatantly offside (actually replayed on the big screen inside the stadium) and De Jong’s appalling challenge / assault in the final are just two further examples of where video replay would have been beneficial but maybe officiating these kinds of infringements can wait for augmentation until goal line technology has bedded in and proved to be a success – which it undoubtedly will be. Extra linesmen referees assistants on the goal line have been tried and been shown to be ineffectual.

The Uruguayan Suarez’s handball in the final seconds of the quarter-final which was ultimately responsible for Ghana’s exit was spotted and punished. I’m not saying that he was right to cheat in this way but I don’t think I’d like anyone who wouldn’t be prepared to do the same on my team. Unfortunately he didn’t show any dignity in his celebrations after Uruguay won on spot kicks and sentiment turned against him even more. FIFA need to introduce the concept of a penalty goal to combat this.

A simple addition to the game in attempt to stop encroachment at free kicks is temporary pitch markings which only necessitate the referee to carry a can of spray paint with him.

Another rule I’d like to see introduced is the banning of defenders shepherding the ball out of play – any player employing this practice anywhere else on the pitch would be pulled up for obstruction. I’d make it illegal to shield the ball unless the player has touched it and is in control.

60 years ago, squad numbers2 didn’t exist and substitutes weren’t heard of in the English League. Rule changes – both cosmetic and game-related – sometimes help move the game forward and sometimes the experiments just don’t work (Golden / Silver goal) but doing nothing about the failings in the game is not an option. What do you think needs to be done to make the game better?

1 Football being a game played with a ball, controlled by the feet. I’m not talking about Handegg here.
2 Interesting sidenote: since squad number were introduced in 1954, the Netherlands are the first team to line up 1-11 in a World Cup final.