Neil Bonnar: My six-point plan to help FIFA get football back on the rails
11:00pm Thursday 23rd January 2014 in Sport
IT’S appropriate that someone called Champagne is looking to run football.
Having long since become a game played at the top level by the super rich, watching it is fast becoming the preserve of the wealthy.
Despite having a surname which conjures images of the upper classes, however, Jerome Champagne’s vision for the future of the game is more one which would be accepted by the working man.
That is if he runs for the FIFA presidency, however, as he feels he could not win if Sepp Blatter decided to try for another term so might not bother.
While it is always prudent not to presume somebody trying to win any election actually delivers on their promises, Monsieur Champagne (I wish I had that name) has the right idea when he says only captains should be allowed to speak to referees, sin bins should be introduced and FIFA should behave better.
But it is his description of the game as having an “image deficit” which is most spot on.
Well, at least at the top level.
This week we have had endless arguments and analysis of whether Luis Suarez dived to win a penalty and Nicolas Anelka has been in the headlines for making a controversial gesture during a goal celebration.
This weekend it will be something else and the weekend after ditto.
My personal bugbear is when the TV focuses on a player and he comes out with a salvo of four-letter abuse before the cameraman can pan away.
Football’s gone off the rails, not least in the prices charged to watch a Premier League match which can easily eat up a working man’s entire week’s disposable income.
If I were FIFA president – always a good game to play – I’d instantly sort out the game’s “image deficit” with six new rules.
1. Offside is offside. If there are fewer than two defenders (including a goalkeeper) between an attacking player and the goalline then he’s offside.
2. No swearing at officials. Straight red card or touchline ban if you break this rule of basic good manners.
3. No blaming it on the ref. Same punishment if a player or manager comments on an official’s performance.
4. Three-match ban for diving.
5. Retrospective punishment allowed for all decisions.
6. A punishment panel set up to analyse every major incident of the weekend and impose penalties.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to bring in these basic rules and punishments and it would result in a game free of diving, swearing, ref abuse and offside debates.