MLS Commissioner Don Garber wants changes in rules interpretations to promote more scoring by rewarding attacking players.
An initiative to promote attacking soccer was announced by Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber Friday for the start of the season Tuesday.
Will it work? Is it lip service? Will it lead to more goals? Is it the right thing to do? Sound off below.
Either way, Garber should be applauded for tinkering with the rules in an effort to encourage more goals, to protect attacking players from vicious tackles and to improve the quality of officiating. Few would argue that the league needs better officiated matches.
Garber said the MLS has been working with the national referees association, the United States Soccer Federation and other key groups to upgrade officiating and encourage referees to give benefit of the doubt to attacking players.
Garber spoke to reporters in a telephone conference four days before the First Kick between the Seattle Sounders FC and the LA Galaxy at Qwest Field.
Garber called this initiative the league’s “key points of emphasis” for competition this season. He stressed that the league is not changing the offsides rule, but referees have been instructed to call offsides with the “benefit given to attacking soccer.” He said officials should call offsides only “when absolutely certain that an offsides exists.”
He also wants to discourage studs-up challenges, and he wants holding and pushing penalized inside the 18-yard box. Referees, he said, should award penalties to players consistently violating this new rule.
Referees, Garber said, are being asked to pay attention to players being targeted for fouls, as well as players who repeatedly commit fouls.
He said referees should be more diligent about marking the spot of a free kick and enforcing the distance to defending players. He mentioned the use of spray-painted marks on the field as they do in Mexico and in Brazil.
These tweaks of the FIFA Laws of the Game could have huge impacts if referees and linesmen apply these new interpretations. It’s hard to know until the season begins whether the refs really interpret offsides in the spirit of promoting attacking soccer.
Part of this competition initiative includes creating a digital command center at the MLS offices in New York, he said. Senior refereeing officials will monitor every match and evaluate the performance of the referees.
It also includes reviewing and evaluating the operational, technical and broadcast issues and challenges of matches every week, all in an effort to improve the quality of the game.
Said Garber: “This command center will serve as a gateway to be able to address those issues.”
In other comments: