1. Create a new international governing body for the sport
The problem: FIFA is wildly corrupt, and shouldn’t be in charge of soccer’s most important event
The solution: Create a new governing body led by Nike & Adidas
If you’re a soccer fan — or just caught that amazing John Oliver rant a few weeks ago — you know that FIFA is almost comically corrupt. Their members have been caught taking bribes, and if they’re not taking bribes, they’re siphoning off millions from other parts of the international soccer machine.
And these are the people we let run the biggest soccer tournament in the world?
It’s time to get rid of FIFA. But in order to do that, we need a new soccer governing body — one big enough to immediately capture the respect of the biggest soccer nations in the world, and one powerful enough to actually put on an event as big as the World Cup.
So meet your new corporate overlords: Adidas and Nike.
Together, they’ll be the founding members of a new soccer governing body. (Let’s give it a name like Football for The World — FTW, for short.) And when they announce they’re pulling their multi-billion dollar support from FIFA and putting everything behind FTW, guess who comes along? Every nation already signed to Nike and Adidas, including Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain, England, the Netherlands, the U.S., Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Australia… you get the idea. Those two companies represent virtually every powerful soccer nation on the planet.
And as a bonus, they’re publicly held companies, which means that unlike FIFA, the companies backing FTW will already be significantly more transparent. That’s a good thing for soccer fans, and that’s a good thing for the game as a whole.
At the head of FTW, there’ll be a president, and then a six-person board with one representative from each continent, elected every four years — and no member will be allowed to serve more than two terms. Same for the president. That’ll keep the Chuck Blazers of the world from dominating soccer for decades on end.
If you’re worried about the World Cup going corporate, just remember: This tournament is already a month-long ad for the Coca-Colas and Volkswagens of the world. How would it be any different with FTW?
2. Improve the way matches are officiated
The problem: Too many games are decided by bad refereeing
The solution: Institute instant replay on all goal-scoring plays and red cards
Since FTW’s backed by two companies with one goal in mind — putting together a the best sporting spectacle possible — the FTW board will also push for changes in the way games are refereed. The introduction of goal-line technology in 2014 is a start, but let’s take it a step further.
FTW will follow the lead of the NHL and MLB in creating an off-site replay office to review any goal-scoring play or red card. So if there’s a foul in the box leading to a penalty kick, or an offsides called on a goal, the replay office can review those in real time. (Let’s give them 45 seconds to make a call.) A second yellow — or a straight red — can also be reviewed.
So here’s how it might work:
Remember that Arjen Robben flop against Mexico that cost El Tri a spot in the round of eight? On the field, that dive in the box resulted in a yellow card for Mexico and a penalty kick for the Dutch.
Under the FTW system, that yellow call would be reviewed; the PK would be rescinded; and the yellow would be given to the Robben for flopping — not Mexico’s Rafael Márquez.
A fun bonus of this system: It might actually lead to a decrease in diving, now that offensive players know that their theatrics could be immediately punished by the replay office.
It’s 2014, and this is the biggest soccer tournament on the planet. No one should ever be wrongly red-carded, and no one penalty kick should ever be given incorrectly.
3. Host the World Cup more frequently
The problem: The World Cup only happens every four years.
The solution: Host the World Cup every three years
We don’t need that extra year anyway. We’ll move all the continental championships — the Euro Cup, the Gold Cup, Copa América, etc — to the summer after the World Cup. We’ll give an automatic bid to the World Cup to every continent’s champion. Everyone else will begin World Cup qualification in the fall, and qualification will continue through the next year. (The continental champions will play in the Confederations Cup while everyone else is qualifying.)
For fans, this means three World Cups every decade. For potential host nations, it means an extra opportunity to bring the biggest tournament in the world home every decade. And for players, it means that a star might be able to play in an additional tournament (or two) in his lifetime.