FIFA's van Basten interested in old-school MLS shootouts to break ties

The old-school MLS shootout could be coming back -- this time, even to the World Cup!

That's what FIFA technical director Marco van Basten told the media on Wednesday, suggesting the replacing of the traditional penalty kick shootout with a run-up shootout reminiscent of the kind used to break ties in the early days of MLS.

The suggestion was one in a series of radical proposals made by van Basten to several media outlets. Some of his other ideas include eliminating the offside rule, restricting players to 60 games per year and introducing orange cards that would send players to a penalty box for 10 minutes at a time.

Currently, in knockout rounds for competitions such as the World Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup, if a match is still tied after the full 90 and 30 minutes of extra time, the winner is decided by a penalty-kick shootout. Van Basten would replace those shots with breakaways from 25 meters (27 yards) in which players would be required to score within eight seconds. He also would like to see shootouts take place immediately after 90 minutes are up, rather than after an additional 30 minutes of extra time.

MLS used breakaway-style shootouts to break ties in regular-season matches from 1996-1998, in which players ran in from 35 yards and had five seconds to score on the opposing goalkeeper.

"Maybe the player should start 25 meters from goal and then you can dribble the goalkeeper or shoot early," van Basten told the AP’s Rob Harris. "But you have to make a goal within eight seconds. It's more skill and less luck. It's maybe a bit more spectacular. It's more football but it's still nervous for the player."

Van Basten advocated for scrapping the offside rule, saying eliminating the rule could make soccer more visually pleasing.

"I think it can be very interesting watching a game without offside," he said. "Football now is already looking a lot like handball with nine or ten defenders in front of the goal. It's difficult for the opposition to score a goal as it's very difficult to create something in the small pieces of space they give you.

"So if you play without offside you get more possibilities to score a goal."

Additionally, van Basten hinted at creating an orange card to serve as a middle ground between yellows and reds. He said that an orange card would see a player removed from a match for 10 minutes at a time for incidents “not heavy enough for a red card” but too harsh for a yellow. He also advocated for limiting players to 60 matches per year and indicated that he’s interested by the idea of switching from two halves to four quarters in each match.

Notably, van Basten does not have the power to change the laws of the game. He told the AP that he wants to get feedback from the world before taking any proposals to the game’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board. FIFA controls half of the eight votes on IFAB, while the other four are retained by the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish federations. 

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