Guardian columnist wants to 'widen' the goals to improve the World Cup 1 year ago

Guardian columnist wants to 'widen' the goals to improve the World Cup

Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins has called on FIFA to widen the goals as a solution to 'soccer’s notorious inability to deliver scoring opportunities'.

This summer's World Cup has seen 146 goals across 56 matches through the second round of the tournament to yield an average of 2.61 goals per match, the second highest average goals per game mark at a tournament since the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Jenkins argues that there’s a good chance that the winner of this summer's World Cup will be not the best team but merely the luckiest, given that there has already been three penalty shootouts in eight knockout games so far, and that widening the goals should lead to more goals and less risk of a draw.

"At root, the trouble is soccer’s notorious inability to deliver scoring opportunities, coupled with the fanatical conservatism – not to mention corruption – of international sport when it comes to self-reform," wrote Jenkins.

"So far, only 16 out of the first 56 matches in the current World Cup have been decided by more than a single goal. The contrast with free-scoring rugby, cricket and tennis is stark.

"The obvious solution is to make scoring during the match easier, or at least easier in extra time. Here proposals have been to remove some players from the field, or even to remove the goalies. A simpler option would be just to widen the goals, as when soccer was in its infancy in America. It means more goals and less risk of a draw.

"The only objection to this proposal is that it involves a change. This is despite players – including goalkeepers – being taller than when goals were first measured on a Holborn pub wall in 1863. Soccer argues that since it is the world’s most popular team sport, why bother?"

Needless to say, Jenkins was rounded on by a number of journalists and fans for his drastic suggestion to solve a problem of his own perception.