The FIFA Task Force Football 2014 convened for the first time today (10 May 2011) at the Home of FIFA, with former Zambian international striker Kalusha Bwalya heading the inaugural session as acting chairman. The high-profile panel of experts from across the world of football started its work by making some concrete initial proposals. In his opening remarks, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter stressed that the time had come to re-introduce such a task force for the first time since the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ in order to review the game and discuss what the future of football could hold. The objective for this task force is to formulate and present concrete solutions at the 2012 FIFA Congress.
“Unfortunately, Franz Beckenbauer was not able to attend today for health reasons,” said President Blatter, “but we prepared this task force meeting thoroughly together. I wish him a quick recovery. I am very proud of the commitment shown by all the members of this group. I am convinced that with this line-up we will endeavour to maintain and even raise the attractiveness of the game, in particular to meet the changing demands of fans, whilst continuing to protect its integrity and core values.”
Chairman Franz Beckenbauer sent a message to his colleagues, saying: “I very much regret that I am not able to attend today’s meeting. The FIFA Task Force Football 2014 is a hugely important project and the establishment of this working group, tasked with setting the course for the future of football, is an excellent idea put forward by the FIFA President.”
“Working on this project means a great deal to me personally and I was very much looking forward to today’s meeting, and in particular to seeing my colleagues and experts from the world of football again. Over the last few weeks, we prepared everything in detail and it is now time to address a number of important matters. I am sure that my colleagues will represent me admirably today and that we will be able to lay the foundations together for our future work.”
The first concrete proposals of the FIFA Task Force Football 2014 are as follows:
· The members agreed to propose allowing a fourth substitution in extra time, particularly for youth competitions.
· Discussion of the interpretation of “Law 11 – Offside” when it comes to interfering with an opponent, especially when it is not physical interference.
· Triple punishment: the members agreed that only in case of serious fouls as well as when denying the opposing team a goalscoring opportunity should a triple punishment be imposed with a penalty, a red card and a suspension. The group proposed reducing sanctions for simple fouls and holding a player in the penalty area to a penalty and a yellow card only. The proposal will be re-submitted to IFAB.
· Refereeing: there was general agreement on the need to professionalise refereeing. Massimo Busacca reported on his experience as a FIFA referee as a basis for discussion on the group’s task to come up with concrete solutions in order to further enhance the level of refereeing and to look into opportunities for how to better support referees for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.
· Competition regulations: a proposal for a uniform classification system in all intercontinental competitions, including the procedures to determine the winner of a match, was discussed and adjourned for consideration at the next meeting.
· Youth competitions: the task force proposed that for FIFA U-17 competitions and below in both the men’s and women’s game, there should be no extra time following a draw after 90 minutes, and instead the teams should proceed directly to a penalty shoot-out.
· Women’s football: the group was asked to come up with proposals to increase the number of female coaches and female referees.
Chairman Franz Beckenbauer will report on the proposals at the 61st Congress in Zurich on 1 June. For further information on the task force and quotes from the members, please visit FIFA.com.