FOOTBALL HISTORY (5): The consolidation of today’s football

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Today we are going to continue with our serial that traces the history of football through the evolution of its rules. In the first 4 chapters we learned that football as we know it was born on 26 October 1863 when The Football Association was founded in the United Kingdom. From that moment on, year after year, different rules and regulations were introduced, which led the four British football federations to create the International Football Association Board, better known by its acronym IFAB, on 2 June 1886. Since that day, the IFAB has been the organisation in charge of modifying and preserving a group of common rules for the practice of football all over the world.

The last chapter ended with FIFA becoming the fifth member of the IFAB. In this way, the two most important football associations in the world joined forces.

After a brief summary of what we have learned so far about the history of football through the evolution of its rules, it is time to find out how the consolidation of modern football has taken place.

After FIFA became the fifth member of the IFAB in 1913, due to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the IFAB Annual General Meeting (AGM) was suspended until the end of the war. This meant that it was not until the mid-1920s that major new changes were made to the football rules. In 1924, a clarification was made to allow a player to score a goal from a corner kick, so what are known as Olympic goals were allowed.

A year later, in 1925, an important change was made to the offside rule. A modification was made that said that a player could not be offside if two, instead of three, opposite players were closer to the goal line. After this, it was not until the 1930s that the semicircle on the edge of the penalty area was introduced. With a radius of 9.15m, this would be the last element to be added to the football pitch, which has remained intact to this day.

In 1937, Stanley Rous (referee and, after his retirement, head of British football and president of FIFA between 1961 and 1974) carried out a review of the rules of football with the aim of creating a more comprehensible and transparent set of rules given the great expansion of the sport. In 1938, following an analysis carried out by the IFAB, this revision was approved and a total of 17 different rules were published, which have remained in operation since then.

1970 was a very important year in respect of the rules of the game. This year saw the introduction of two major changes that are still in effect today. We are talking about yellow and red cards and penalty shoot-outs. It is impossible to imagine modern football without either of these two aspects. The yellow and red cards would be used for the first time at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. As a result, 1970 became the origin of many of the discussions that take place during football matches. Cards that are always wrong when they are given to players of your team and very rarely used when a player of the opposing team hits (minimally) our player, but for us it has been very clear that he has intentionally gone for him and should even be sent off.

However, nothing that referees can not train with apps like CloudLab and its videotest tool, in which they can visualize a play and make a decision about it in a few seconds and from the amenities of their home.

On the other hand, that other major change introduced in 1970, as we have already mentioned, was the penalty shoot-out. These were to propose a new way of breaking the tie after 90 minutes of normal time and 30 minutes of extra time. We all know how a penalty shoot-out works and how much agony it can cause. However, although the IFAB recognised penalty shoot-outs in 1970 following a proposal from the German FA, we must go back to the 1962 Carranza Trophy final.

The president of UD Gaditana, in a column he wrote in the Diario de Cádiz, explained the procedures to be followed if, at the end of the next edition of the Carranza Trophy, there was still a draw between the two teams. In this way, the final of that same year’s edition ended, after 120 minutes of play, in a draw. FC Barcelona and Real Zaragoza, somewhat disconcerted at first by the new system for resolving draws, ended up playing what was the first penalty shoot-out in the history of football. It would be the Catalan team that ended up raising the distinctive Carranza Tournament trophy to the sky of Cádiz.

The 1990s brought many changes to the Laws of the Game. The entry of this new decade meant that the IFAB decided to associate discipline with the spirit of fair play. In this way, the IFAB made an important change to rule 12, which refers to fouls and misconduct. With this modification it was intended to indicate that when a player tackles another player from behind, endangering his physical integrity, he would automatically be punished by the referee with a red card. In the same way, the referee could send off a player if he commits a foul that prevents the opposing team from scoring a goal or if he commits a foul that cuts off a clear goal-scoring opportunity for the rival team.

Football as we know it today was being consolidated. 17 rules that govern the correct performance of a discipline practised by more than 270 million people around the world, i.e. 4% of the world’s population, every time they see a stone, a bottle or a tin on the ground, they feel the need to kick it and score a goal. A sport practised in the streets by children, adults and the elderly, taken to the extreme by professionalism.

In the next chapter of this series, we will find out more about the rules that currently guide the game of football all over the world.

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