Adjusting the rules should definitely take precedence for protecting players from head injuries or concussions, and, as discussed in a previous post, MLS is already the best hope in solving soccer's concussion crisis.
We are learning that the newer, more transparent FIFA is also a kinder, gentler world soccer governing body. Post scandal, it is more likely that FIFA will oblige common sense, rather than punish it. Especially so, because MLS is the guinea pig world Division I league experimenting with VAR (video assisting referees), to get the right call on challengeable instant replays. MLS has a distinctive relationship with FIFA now, which other leagues don't have.
The most aesthetically displeasing of all Soccer plays is the goalkeeper punt (punting is dropping the ball from the air with the hands with or without a quick bounce). It’s awful to watch. It hurts the flow of the game and looks out of place compared to the rest of the game. The inartistic nature and brute force of the kick doesn’t blend in with the rest of the skills that make soccer the world’s most ‘beautiful game.’ The punt delivers more than just concussions for the players who receive them with their heads. It subconsciously changes how the game is strategically played.
These punts happen when the keeper gathers the ball with his/her hands after a player from the opposing team has made contact with the ball pushing it towards the goal being defended by the keeper. The keeper could have made a great save or it could have been incidental contact by the opposing team. Either way, the keeper has the option to punt the ball to try and give his/her team an advantage going towards the other goal. After gathering the ball, the keeper runs or jaunts quickly to the edge of the penalty box line, if they desire. Usually they are waving teammates down field and then the ball drops from their hands and is punted with as much power in the leg as possible (sometimes the punt will be directional with less power).
Goalkeepers are the only players who have the ability under the rules to touch the ball with their hands. From the time as children growing up playing the sport, this has always been the most distinctive attribute to Soccer. Players don’t ever get to use their hands, only the keepers. So why not keep it this way? Force goalkeepers to throw the ball down field after collecting it, rather than the option to punt. Their skill sets throwing the ball can still place the ball to the midfield line.
Interestingly, as with the water break rule, a rule taking away punting from goalkeepers can also help the game of soccer gain more practicality and provide for more goal-scoring opportunities. This rules change would intrinsically reward the more skilled offensive team.