Should FIFA limit the number of players in a wall?

Should FIFA limit the number of players in a wall?

In our previous article, we discussed the idea of FIFA changing or removing the offside rule in order to increase the game’s lack of goal scoring. Another possible way we could help increase the number of goal scoring opportunities is by limiting the amount of players allowed in a wall during free kicks.

The reason for a free kick is to penalize the team who committed a foul and provide a scoring opportunity for the opposing team. However, the free kick is not so free! The team defending the kick can create a wall 10 yards away from where the kick is to be taken. This wall is meant to block a direct shot on goal. The problem lies with the amount of players that are allowed in the wall. There is no limit!

Of course, if a team wanted to include a large number of players in the wall, this would leave unmarked players on the opposing team. The potential for the free kick to turn into a quick pass to an open player is there. This is why most teams will limit the amount of players in the wall. However, when a free kick is given anywhere near the net, such as around the border of the penalty box, the wall usually contains a large number of players.

If someone on my team has been fouled and a free kick has been awarded, we want to use that opportunity to score a goal. But with a wall that extends as wide as 5 or more players, it doesn’t seem like it’s much of an opportunity anymore. Don’t forget that the wall never tends to stay still! Players will try to inch their way up to the ball, cutting down the 10 yards, and making it more difficult for the shooter.

What if FIFA limited the number of players in a wall to 3? This rule would apply to both direct and indirect free kicks. A defending team may think twice about taking a player down since the potential for a better goal scoring opportunity is there. This may help limit the number of fouls and allow for continued play. It also has the potential for increased goal scoring.

Do you think limiting the number of players allowed in a wall would increase goal scoring? Please leave your comments below!

6 Commentators

On October 9, 2008 Jake Becker said

I think this could be a good rule change. I think that it would not only increase scoring, but reduce penalties and injuries in general, hence making a more exciting AND safer game in general.

Another option for changing this rule is that the wall could only be as many players as there are players from the other team around the ball.

On October 9, 2008 Danie said

I don’t think limiting the number of players in the wall would influence whether someone fouls or not. If it did, then no one would foul in the box, because that results in a pk.

And besides, even if you did limit the number of players in the wall, which is 10ft away from the ball… who’s to say that other players won’t be a foot behind the wall, to extend it even further.

Now, if you wanted to eliminate the wall entirely then that could be a possibility. In women’s lacrosse, if there is a foul and the whistle is blown, then all players must stay where they are. The player who made the foul goes 3 yards behind the opposing player. Then that player gets the ball and can either pass or dribble, knowing that the opposing team is right behind them. This just puts them in a slight advantage, but there’s also no wall! So if they are close to the net, then its a great scoring opportunity.

On October 10, 2008 Jake Becker said

If that were the consideration for rule changes then they could also consider using the indoor soccer rules of blue cards (2 min in the box) and yellow cards (5 min in the box). But then I would be worried the entire game would change drastically…

On October 13, 2008 Danie said

Yea the blue cards would totally change the game. I think that should only be for indoors… the indoor game is in a much smaller space, resulting in a much quicker game, with many more fouls… so the blue cards make sense. But not for outdoor.

On June 26, 2010 J howard said

How do you define what a wall is? U must answer that question before you can control its size. Don’t know if I like it myself but I wonder if requiring 1 or 2 or 3 defenders to be 5-10 yards BEHIND the ball would make things intersting. Just food for thot.

On November 6, 2010 DET said

It sounds like another effort to make the game more complicated for the referees. Let them worry about making sure the “wall” is ten yards away (always a bit tricky on a field without yard markers, such as are used in gridiron football and rugby league). If you can’t get the ball up in the air or around a group of players (who may also be obstructing their own keeper’s view of the ball) thirty feet away, you shouldn’t be taking the free kick.

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