UEFA refereeing chief Pierluigi Collina says changes must be made to key rules of football, including offside, in order to make life easier for referees and reduce the amount of post-match discussion over officials' decisions. In an interview on his 55th birtyhday, Collina outlined some of the ideas he has to improve the game, which also include players being sent to a sin bin for diving.
Offside is one of the most contentious rules of the game, and Collina believes more could be done to alleviate a referee's responsibility in such cases. "You cannot expect an assistant referee to evaluate a matter of centimetres," the former referee said. "It's not something that a human being can do. At the same time, it would be paradoxical to accept the mistake just because it's impossible to evaluate. I think that somebody has got to deal with this as soon as possible and find a different balance to the rule, even the ways in which it is viewed whether people are interfering with play."
Handball, especially inside the penalty area, is also subject to endless discussion due to the difficulty of determining whether it was a deliberate action. According to Collina, human instinct generally succeeds over instant replays in such instances. "This becomes complicated because an attempt has been made to classify it with a series of factors that go way beyond the literal meaning of the term [intentional]," Collina said. "The biggest difference between what a referee sees and what is shown on TV is that, when you slow the image down, you change the perception. Almost every single handball seems voluntary [when you show a slow-motion replay]. The reality, however, is different."
Collina also hopes to see the "triple punishment" of a penalty, red card and suspension addressed when the International Football Association Board (IFAB) meets this month. "The IFAB is going to rule on an objection raised by many at the end of February," the Italian said, referring to a topic that has recently been revived in Germany due to the Bundesliga's unusual rules on the matter. "I would say that almost everybody in football deems a penalty plus a red card and suspension an excessive punishment. We need to remind ourselves why this rule was made. The objective was to punish people who, voluntarily - maybe because it was impossible to play the ball - committed a foul to prevent their opponent from having the chance to score. We've now gone beyond that and we are punishing the honest player who is trying to get the ball, but arrives a split-second too late, like with goalkeepers. Our hope is that the IFAB authorizes an experimentation, maybe in the Champions League, of referees being permitted to show a red card only when a player does not go for the ball inside the penalty area." That, Collina says, could lead to more fouls being committed in the area with more players willing to take the risk, and as a knock-on effect, it could lead to more attackers trying to win penalties by diving. To discourage that, Collina favours the idea of a third card being introduced to send players off for a certain amount of time if they are perceived to be simulating. "It could be interesting," Collina said. "It would have to be tested in a big league, but I find it important that football tries to produce an image of correctness and fair play -- diving and protesting are not good examples for children who watch the matches. We need to stigmatize certain behaviour and not incentivize it".
Source: La Gazzetta Delo Sport