The FIFA Task Force Football 2014 met for the second time in Zurich to analyse current topics in football. Afterwards, FIFA.com spoke with Franz Beckenbauer, who chaired the meeting, and former world-class referee and current Head of the FIFA Refereeing Department Massimo Busacca about what they had discussed.
The main themes of today's meeting
There were a number of points on the agenda, including the subject of fair play, and we discussed what needs to be done better in the future. What we saw last year was terrible, including in the most important match of the past four years, namely the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Final between Spain and the Netherlands in South Africa. The way the two teams behaved in the first half was awful. It was meant to be a good advertisement for the game of football but it was totally the opposite. The final of the Copa Libertadores in South America was similar, and things like that do not belong on a football pitch – they need to be sanctioned.
The Laws of the Game
On the subject of offside, we discussed how to simplify the rule. Active and passive offside are incompatible, it's too complicated. Another issue was triple punishment, which is an integral part of the game. As things stand at the moment, a penalty is given and a red card shown if the last man commits a foul in the penalty area. The committee believes that this is too much. Our suggestion would be to award a penalty and show a yellow card for a simple foul in the area, while a serious foul would see a penalty and a red card, which would also be shown if it occured outside the penalty area.
We had a lively discussion for almost five hours. The subject of offside will be dealt with again the next time we meet, as it is not something that can be changed in the space of a couple of minutes. I put it on the agenda at the last moment since I had come to realise recently that referees, assistant referees and also the fans do not fully understand the rule anymore. We will continue as we have today – in principle we agree how it should look, but we now need to find the exact definition. This is important, and we all have to work together a lot more closely to really find a simple definition. The offside rule is fundamental. It has been doctored a few times already, but each time it was made more complicated. Football is a simple game with simple rules, and this is something that we need to get back to.
The composition of the FIFA Task Force Football 2014
The committee has been well put-together and well prepared, and as chairman I am very happy with this. I realised that I was the only coach on the committee, and I would prefer it in future if other coaches were involved. Coaches are always an important subject, whether we’re talking about them being given a red card or being sent to the stands or changing rooms, they are always a central topic. We need to discuss all this in detail and perhaps get a coach or two onto the committee.
The appreciation of the Task Force
We’ve been assured that we’re going to be taken more seriously, and this means that we have to be committed to preparing even better than we had before and to deal with subjects in even more detail.
Massimo Bussaca (Head of the FIFA Refereeing Department)
The main subjects that were discussed
We discussed what in our opinion are two very important points. One is the interpretation of offside, which can cause a number of problems nowadays, and the other is triple punishment, where we want to find a sense of proportion.
The representation of referees on the committee
This is very important. Of course we referees can develop our own ideas, but exchanging ideas with former referees, players and coaches is incredibly important if we are to understand exactly how they feel. I may well have my own opinion, but players who are involved in football every day may well have a different one. Maybe there are certain things that we can do better in the future to improve the game. It’s very important for us to discuss things with players and coaches so that we come to more of an agreement at the end of the day.
A referee can't do anything on his own – he needs the help of players and coaches. We can be 200 per centprepared, but if we don't get fair play, then we're on our own out there on the pitch. If players were to respect that then things would be easier for us. When I think back to the big matches that I refereed, it was much easier to ensure that there was respect and fair play during the game when I had the support of the players. We need fair play from everyone involved throughout the match.
The main aims as far as referees are concerned
We want uniformity. It is impossible to eliminate problems, but on a given weekend there should not be divergent refereeing decisions being given in the same league. Refereeing is becoming more professional, but we cannot rule out the odd mistakes being made in the future.