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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Ex-Arsenal Coach Wenger Proposes Football Overhaul

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In his role as FIFA’s Chief of Football Development, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is one of the key figures charged with overseeing the process of adapting and improving the laws of the game.

Over the past few months, the 70-year-old has been busy drafting up a series of tweaks and changes — some more radical than others — that he thinks will transform football for the better.

First and foremost, Wenger would like to overhaul the offside rule, though he has also suggested wholesale changes to throw-ins and corners.

Explaining his vision to L’Equipe this past week, the Frenchman offered a list of the alterations he’d like to make to the current rule book. Here’s a point-by-point breakdown of Wenger’s ideas.

Changing the offside rule

The fundamental change Wenger would like to make to the offside rule would give attacking players much more leeway when attempting to dart behind the defensive line or snap up chances in a crowded penalty area.

It would mean that if any part of the attacker’s body (with which they can legally play the ball) was level with the last defender, the attacker would be considered onside — basically the polar opposite of the current, overly fastidious iteration of the rule.

Replacing throw-ins with kick-ins

After crunching the numbers and noting that attacking teams generally find little to no advantage from taking traditional throw-ins during the latter stages of matches, Wenger proposed a radical notion of allowing attacking teams to take rush “kick-ins” instead.

Allowing attacking teams to get the ball in motion quickly would negate the perceived numerical disadvantage they face in having a man leave the field, however briefly, in order to take a throw-in.

It means attacking teams could restart play almost immediately or choose to launch a long-ball from the touchline deep into enemy territory should they be chasing a late goal.

Out-swinging corners

Wenger is also considering other things: a corner that goes out of play and comes back in that could be made valid, which may create new goal-scoring opportunities.

Wenger seems to want the hard boundaries of a football pitch — enshrined in the original laws of the game and sacrosanct for over 150 years — to become temporarily permeable for players unable to keep a corner kick in play.

Free kicks

Wenger dangled the carrot of players being able to restart play quickly by taking a free-kick to themselves.

Currently, after a free kick is taken, the taker isn’t allowed to touch the ball again until somebody else has, be it a teammate or an opponent.

Wenger’s tweak would see players presumably allowed to dribble a ball straight from a free kick, similar to a tap kick in rugby. This would speed up restarts and open up a brave new world of elaborate, convoluted and ridiculous set pieces.

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