As the typical boy growing up in Portugal, I started playing football at an early age. I played mostly with friends, both outdoors and indoors, and at the universities where I studied and worked. In fact, I only joined my first official club after leaving Portugal.

Presently, I play mostly pick-up games as time is scarce for training and several injuries have taken its toll. The clubs I played for in the past were:


Football is not a matter of life and death, it's more important than that

Bill Shankly

A Brief Essay on Football Rules

Football has surprisingly outdated, ineffective, and inept rules. Firstly, football rules do not protect players well enough. Creative, technical players can be fouled constantly with little or no punishment for defenders. Free kicks and yellow cards, the most usual punishment, are little deterrent. In fact, most times defenders get away with it. On the other hand, red cards and penalties are extreme punishments. A penalty shot has over 50% chances of being converted in goal while a red card, depending on the time left to play, can put a team in a huge disadvantage. Therefore, the rules are designed to punish harshly or barely punish at all.

This would not be such a big problem if rules were strongly enforced. Unfortunately, that does not happen and football refereeing errors abound. Referee errors in football can be extremely costly because games are often decided by a single goal.

Other professional sports such as basketball, rugby, futsal, and ice hockey have already evolved to deal with these situations. Indeed, most of these sports have balanced punishments such as blue cards, free throws, etc. Certainly, all of these sports lack the nearly “orgasmic” nature of football, which is part of football’s passion. Nevertheless, the laws of football must evolve in the same way the rules in other sports have evolved in recent years.

Here are a few ideas for rules I would like to see changed or adopted in football. This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Allow for players sent off to be substituted after 10 minutes.
  • Introduce blue cards (e.g., 10 minute disqualification) for players.
  • Award teams whose player is through on goal with a penalty kick even if the foul is committed outside the box.
  • Punish teams (e.g., corner) for every foul after commiting a set number of fouls.
  • Punish teams (e.g., corner) for time-wasting. Alternatively, use a stop-clock.

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