Worst Rules in Football

Top 10 Worst Rules in Football

    Football is one of the most, if not the most, popular sports in the world. Besides the traditional 11 vs 11 game, several renditions of the game have come about in recent times as the global game continues to grow. People from all over the world have added or taken from the game in order to suit their preferences.

    While players, coaches, and fans agree on most rules and regulations part of the professional sport currently, some contentious rules make little sense given the nature of the game. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top 10 worst rules in football.

    10. Allowing only 3 instances of substitutions

    Football Managers
    Managers can make five changes in just 3 instances. (Getty Images)

    In recent times, football has moved away from the old three-substitute rule to a more accommodating one which allows five substitutes to be used by any team in a match. However, those five players can be brought onto the pitch in just three instances, meaning managers have to plan their strategy well before the game even starts.

    While this allows more personnel to participate in any given game, the pressure to do it within three instances leaves no room for teams to manage possible injuries. If all five substitutions have been used up and a player suffers a serious injury, that team will have to play with 10 men as they cannot make further changes. Instead, substitutions should be allowed to be made individually, or as a cluster, as per the manager’s wishes.

    9. Appearance quota for league medals

    Erling Haaland
    Players need to meet appearance quotas to be eligible for medals. (Getty Images)

    As things are currently, one of the most controversial rules in football is the fact that players get medals only if they have appeared in a certain percentage of their team’s league-winning season.

    This seems unreasonable because clubs may register all their players but some of them may get injured, or others might be short by one game, but they are still part of every moment behind the scenes. Whether or not a player is a part of the starting group should not be a factor in determining whether they deserve a medal or not, since they may be playing a crucial role away from the media lenses.

    8. Yellow card for removing shirt while celebrating

    Balotelli celebrating his goal in the Euro 2012 semi-finals. (Getty Images)

    Players taking their shirts off after scoring goals has been a huge part of the sport and has birthed some of the most iconic moments in the sport. However, whenever a player takes their shirt off, referees are supposed to show them a yellow card by default.

    This rule does not make sense as it takes away from the passion of the game. Most of the time players are just expressing elation and pure joy when they take their shirt off to celebrate. However, should a player disrespect their club colours by performing obscene actions with the shirt, or by throwing it away, there could be a rule for them to be booked.

    Another type of the same rule is players getting booked for kicking the ball away, which again is subjective based on the referee’s decision.

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    7. Six-second rule for goalkeepers

    six-second rule
    Officials often fail to enforce the six-second rule. (Getty Images)

    When goalkeepers catch the ball during a game, they are supposed to release it within six seconds of catching it so as to keep the game flowing and to prevent time-wasting. However, this rule is barely enforced as goalkeepers in several games across multiple levels can still be seeing holding onto the ball for much longer than six seconds.

    While the concept of the rule is great to allowing a smooth game, not many officials tend to enforce it, thus leading to many players exploiting it. This is why it should be done away with altogether.

    6. ‘Keepers cannot score by throwing the ball

    Goalkeepers can't score by throwing the ball
    ‘Keepers can’t score by throwing the ball. (Getty Images)

    While there have been multiple instances of goalkeepers doing the extraordinary and scoring with kicks all the way from their own goal, they are prohibited from scoring a goal by throwing it into the opposition goal.

    This rule is one of the worst rules in football as it undermines players’ potential ability to pull off the impossible. If any goalkeeper can actually do that, they should be credited with the goal by all means as it would be one of the rarest achievements in the sport.

    5. Modern-day penalty kicks

    Penalties in the older days
    Penalties in the older days. (Getty Images)

    Back in the day, penalty kicks were essentially 1-v-1 setups between attackers of one team versus the goalkeeper of the opponent. This arguably reduced the chances of the attackers scoring as goalkeepers were allowed to play as if it is a normal move, permitted to make movements and charge off the lines.

    Removal of this law and the move towards current-day penalties, where players strike a stationary ball, has been one of the most controversial rules in football. Not only does this reduce the goalkeeper’s chances by a lot, it also prompts players to go the extra mile and dive to win penalties, which ruins the game.

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    4. Clubs under the same ownership umbrella cannot compete together in European competitions

    INEOS owns Manchester United and OGC Nice
    INEOS owns Manchester United and OGC Nice. (Getty Images)

    With the advent of modern football, ownership structures have moved away from single owners to more of a consortium, which usually acquires multiple football clubs. However, should any of these clubs be in the same European competition, they will not be allowed to compete simultaneously, as UEFA believes this breaches the ethics of the sport.

    Groups like City Football Group and INEOS could face this in the upcoming seasons, with teams under their umbrella having qualified for the same competitions.

    3. Golden Goal

    Laurent Blanc scored the first-ever 'Golden Goal' against Paraguay in 1998
    Laurent Blanc scored the first-ever ‘Golden Goal’ against Paraguay in 1998.

    Although not in practice anymore, this was one of the most controversial rules in football at one point in time. Instead of playing two 15-minute periods of extra time, the first goal in extra time decided the winner as per this outlandish rule.

    This rule was outright ridiculous as it gave no chance for the opposition to fight back after conceding, ending the match in favour of the scorers in that very moment. Having equal chances to compete is the essence of football and this rule took a lot away from that.

    2. Addition of VAR to the game

    The Premier League's VAR
    The Premier League’s VAR. (Getty Images)

    Video Assistant Referees (VAR) have caused a huge stir in the sport since their introduction in the last five years or so. It has added multiple pauses to games, thus increasing the total time for matches to unrealistic times, and also causing confusion among players and fans.

    Additionally, a lot of the decisions regarding cards made by the VAR are usually subjective and depend heavily on the type of video shown to the officials. This has added ambiguity around what constitutes a red card and what could be deemed as a simulation, etc.

    1. Not stopping the clock at all

    The game clock in football never stops
    The game clock in football never stops. (Getty Images)

    As the saying goes, the clock in football stops only at half-time and full-time. This is one of the most controversial rules in football, as it puts time-wasting into a huge grey area, with players intending to do so coming up with various ways of shaving extra seconds off the game clock.

    However, stopping the clock each time play is stopped, and reducing the game to two halves of 35 minutes each will ensure players stay committed to playing the game rather than using other petty tricks. This would also make the sport more engaging, as players would be incentivized to always keep the ball in play rather than let it go out of bounds.

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