Marco Van Basten aims to revolutionize football. The former AC Milan and Ajax champion is now working for FIFA as head of the technical development of football. In a recent interview released to the German newspaper Bild the former Dutch star advanced some proposals to improve the world of football.

Many negative comments have flared in the days after that interview. Experts, former players, and managers working in sports believe that Marco Van Basten’s ideas are probably not applicable in today’s football. At this stage, the main question is:

Are Marco Van Basten’s proposals beneficial for football?

Marco van Basten
Photo: Nicolo’ Zangirolami / Insidefoto

It’s not easy to provide a satisfactory answer to this question. The main objective behind Van Basten’s ideas is to improve the quality and the appeal of the best sport in the world in order to not let it lose interest, however, the tulip will have to face the fierce opposition of the conservative people working in football and those unhappy to support and try something different. Is it really that difficult to change something in this sport? Apparently yes, even if recently the president of FIFA – Gianni Infantino – succeeded in his proposal to organize a 48 team World Cup competition.

We have analyzed the topic in this article!

Marco Van Basten is pushing for the elimination of penalties and offsides as well as the introduction of the shootout, the temporary expulsions, and so much more. Let’s check what he would like to implement in depth:

  • No to penalties, Yes to shootouts: “Each team will have five attempts. When the referee whistles the player will run for 25 meters towards the net. In eight seconds, the player will have to complete the action. The shootouts are spectacular for the spectators and they are also interesting for the players. Traditional penalties end up after a second while in the shootout there are more possibilities resembling a game action. They would be used in the knockout competitions and in the groups stages of the big tournaments”.
  • No to offsides: “Football looks more and more like handball. I would be very curious to know how would today’s football be without offsides. I guess that many people will be against this idea but I would be in favor because football has become more and more similar to handball. I think that football would become more attractive and spectacular. Goals are what the fans want to see”.
  • No to yellow cards, Yes to temporary expulsions: “Players would be sent out for 5 or 10 minutes. If it is already difficult to play with 10 vs 11 who knows how it would be in 8 vs 9”.
  • Limit of 5 fouls per player: “For some time I thought that a defender could commit a maximum of 5 fouls, as in basketball. Then he should leave the field”.
  • Effective time: “I would implement this rule but only in the last 10 minutes. Time stops every time the ball gets out or at any foul. This would avoid the loss of time”.
  • Games 8 vs 8: “Professional football must remain as it is, 11 vs 11 but the youth football and the over 45 should be played on a smaller pitch with fewer players.”
  • Stop to group protests: “We should take an example from rugby. Only the captain should have the right to complain to the referee”.
  • Fast substitutions: “There is an ongoing debate about this rule, however it should be applied only in the youth competitions. Moreover, we think that the referee must always know who is on the pitch”.
  • Fewer games: “The main goal would be to raise the quality of the game. It is not going to be a money problem. We should move from 80 games a season per team to a maximum of 50”.

Marco van Basten seems to be a revolutionary guy. His way to see football is definitely different from that of many experts involved in this sector. Although some of his proposals do not seem to be easily applicable I also believe that other implementations could be triggered. I especially believe in the feasibility to introduce the shootouts and the temporary expulsions. In a football that nowadays became super fast it is not easy for the referees to judge the gravity of a foul and the required punishment that a player should face. We often see the great theatrical skills that our beloved players have developed over the years. Sometimes, the referees are mocked and induced to make wrong decisions that change the course of a match. The temporary expulsions would – as well as the limit of 5 fouls per player -reduce their margin of error and the impact that their decisions can have on the final outcome of games.

Shootouts would be very appealing for the crowds. Football is a sport in which fans are pillars for the overall show. It is indubitable that the implementation of the shootouts would be more scenic than the penalties. By following this idea of Marco van Basten, players could show off their skills in their face-to-face in-motion challenge against the goalkeepers.

I do not believe that Marco van Basten will be able to let FIFA pass all of his proposals to improve football. By playing fewer games probably the quality would be better but over the years football became a money machine and this aspect cannot be reversed. Talking about the offsides, I firmly believe that this rule cannot be removed as well. It represents a key tactical aspect of the games. Some coaches base their overall strategy on the implementation of the offsides that I also believe to be pretty exciting for the crowds.