Wednesday, January 18, 2017

NASL 'Shootouts' Considered for World Cup 2026 Is a Sign of Changing Times

















ESPN's report on FIFA considering a change to how soccer may settle tie games for World Cup 2026 is a bit of a game-changer. The rules change would attempt to manage the additional groupings formed from the increase of 16 more countries competing. Ties from games and from the standings could be managed depending on the amount of goals scored during 'shootouts', similar to how it was done in the old NASL. These shootouts show off skills performed by an offensive player trying to score on a goalkeeper in eight seconds starting from 80 feet away.

This change and others being considered from the technical development department of FIFA, headed by Marco Van Basten, indicate a new direction for the organization. A page was turned on 40 years of corruption under two presidents when the indictments came about in 2015, thanks to Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney General who lead the investigation. It seems the new transparency from FIFA has also brought a lot more progressive thought and ideas.

Purists will more than likely scoff at these new and old ideas, especially the shootouts. Their stomachs are probably turning just thinking about something so American being instituted into world soccer. But, it is hard to argue with the sport being perfect the way it is. The Seattle Sounders winning MLS Cup without a shot on goal or no teams retaking a lead from a deficit in two tournaments, Copa America and Euro Cup, clearly demonstrate that soccer has issues within the essence of the sport. It should be played to be as entertaining as possible for fans, not played to be incapable of the very basics needed to make a highlight happen or to have a shift in momentum.

Rules adjustments happen to make things fairer to the ones playing or to make things more fun for those who are watching. Soccer doesn't need an overhaul, but it shouldn't be immune from modernization. The right kind of alteration can be invigorating and more appetizing for trying to bring in new fans.

The perception of soccer has been that it is not interested in American contributions to the sport. The reputation has always been that the sport belongs to the world. This is fine, let the sport belong to the world, just don't forget about the American catalog for sports innovations that has occurred in the last 100 years. The list is way too long to account for in this article-that's what the history of U.S. sport archives are for.


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