Having watched several matches since the start of the 2006 World Cup, here are my thoughts on how to make the tournament (and soccer as a whole) much better:
- Stop the theatrics. Diving “fouls” have got to go. I’m tired of seeing mostly European or Latin American players (where the majority, though not all actors come from) throw himself down in a conveniently-landing way, hold his ankle in feigned agony, get carried off the field on one of those stupid stretchers, only to have the guy run right back on the pitch. Man up! Refs share a lot of the blame too. Hint to the refs: when a player really gets injured, they just drop to the ground. There is nothing grandiose about falling after an injury. Start paying attention!
- Standardized flags and foul calling. One of the great things about American football, is that when a foul/penalty is committed, a single yellow flag is thrown, after which refs commune for a few moments and make the call together. Nothing is decided in the heat of the moment like in soccer. Example, when a normal foul is committed, whistle, and then continue play like the current system does. In the instance of debating whether the act was “Yellow” or “Red” card worthy though, blow a whistle, throw a flag or some visual indication that added judgment is needed to make the correct call, and converse with the line judges to get it right. This would improve foul judgments by 95%.
- Hand out cards for too many off-sides and overall team fouls. Do something about this. When a player is called for the 10th off-side, card him. When a team has accumulated 25 fouls, do something to penalize.
- Make coaching native. Coaching plays a key role in the successfulness of a team. Why are non-native coaches allowed to coach different countries at the World Cup? Coaching talent, as player talent, should be from the native country.
I love soccer and the World Cup, but it could be so much better. I don’t expect to see any of the above changes made, but something has got to give.