Pele Speaks To The World From His Own Ass

>> Thursday

It seems everyone has an idea on how to increase scoring in soccer. After their Champions League game this week, Besiktas (in white) might disagree with the necessity of such measures.

Well, add Brazilian legend Pele to that list. In his tri-monthly rant on whatever topic he may or may not have any credibility on but expects people to listen because he's Pele, the three-time World Cup winner proposed banning the use of defensive walls.

Banning the use of defensive walls may increase the rate of successful service, but does nothing for finishing. What's to prevent the players who would otherwise be used in a defensive wall 10 yards from the spot of the foul from moving to another point in the defensive box? They could be just as obstructive to players making runs up the center on goal.

Besides, what's the regulation dividing line for what constitutes a wall? Four players standing near each other? Three? Two? What if the defense 10 yards out is not in a straight line, but presents the offensive players with just as limited options? What would the penalty be? A card for anyone who participates in the wall? Impractical. Retroactive punishment against clubs and coaches by using video evidence? Perhaps a nice idea, but that doesn't solve the problem in-game, and would be beneficial to the larger clubs who could better afford the cost of any fines which may result from what is, frankly, a very effective defensive strategy; one that like any other can be broken down by players famous...

...and not so much...

The bottom line is, no matter how many players are in the wall, there are still 11 players on the field for each team. If eight players are in a wall (as seen below), and service can't be provided to any one of the SIX UNMARKED PLAYERS or put ball that's 9 inches across into an 8 by 24 foot goal, perhaps it's time to reconsider who's taking your set-pieces, not meddle with the rules of a game that have gone largely unchanged for over 100 years. The only rule changes I can think of in my lifetime are disallowing a goalkeeper to pick up a ball one of his teammates played back to him, moving from two points to three for a win, an electronic board to signal substitutions or stoppage time, and one or two different overtime formats for knockout play.

Soccer has held out on change despite calls for fewer players, elimination of the off-sides rule (which would actually result in MORE boring soccer, not less), widening the goals, and now...interfering with managers' tactics, and legend or not, Pele's suggestion could only lead to more dirty play in the box, not a significant increase in goals.


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