The Dutch football association’ amateur football chief wants to use the lower professional league for a series of experimental rule changes including unlimited substitutions, sin-binning and a real-time clock.
Dirk van der Zee said that the reforms, designed to make the game ‘faster, fairer, more sporting and more attractive’, could be brought in as early as the 2023-24 season.
Van der Zee proposed five rule changes in his column on the KNVB’s website. Games would last two 30-minute halves of ‘pure game time’, with the clock frozen when the ball goes out of play, instead of the fourth official adding on discretionary time for stoppages.
Yellow cards would replaced by a five-minute time out or ‘sin bin’ for the offending player. Throw-ins would be replaced by free-kicks from the edge of the pitch, while players would be allowed to dribble the ball from a free-kick.
Van der Zee said throw-ins, goal-kicks and free-kicks were one of the biggest sources of time-wasting in the game, with 11% of match time spent waiting to restart the game. ‘That would be largely avoided with the self-pass, which would allow players to run with the ball as soon as the referee has placed it,’ he said.
Van der Zee said he expected his ideas to meet with resistance from traditionalists. ‘Whenever you put forward ideas like this and want to modernise the game, you encounter two sorts of fans: football romantics, who want everything to stay the same and are guided by nostalgia and sentiment, and football lovers who are open to changes to make the game more attractive and fairer,’ he wrote.
‘Football romantics are especially conspicuous at UEFA and FIFA, who are known for their tendency to dig in against changes. So we will need to lobby hard before we can get the pilot off the ground in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie.’
However, the KNVB’s professional football chief Marianne van Leeuwen said on Wednesday afternoon that there was ‘no question‘ of any experiments taking place.
‘It is extremely unfortunate that this is thought to come from the KNVB,’ she said. ‘We would never do anything like this without discussing it with the clubs.’
Van der Zee has also apologised for giving the wrong impression, news agency ANP said.
Note: This article was updated on Wednesday afternoon to reflect the KNVB’s rebuttal.
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