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FIFA Club World Cup shouldn't used as a testing ground


Among the questionable things about the Club World Cup, which is in its final throes in its current format, its use as a testing ground for new rules is right up there. Indeed, it's something I find genuinely scandalous. Is this really, as we're led to believe, a tournament that represents the pinnacle of the global club game? In which case, why is it used to try out every last bright idea thought up by a bunch of self-satisfied folks who spend much of their time hanging out together in the swishest, swankiest hotels around? Two years ago, we watched VAR take its opening steps, and they were pretty catastrophic. Thankfully, its implementation has been sharpened up; but not before we had to witness that embarrassment...

These things used to be tried out at youth level...

In days gone by, there was an international youth tournament in Monaco (where, by the way, Spain internationals-to-be Roberto López Ufarte and Míchel announced themselves as future stars), in which these things were tested out. A range of extravagant innovations were given a go, such as replacing the throw-in with the kick-in - and the point here is that this, at least, wasn't a major, senior competition. I find it madness to use an event like the Club World Cup for nonsenses such as allowing the goalkeeper to face penalties with one foot in front of the line and the other on it. Lord knows where that one came from. I can't believe there's a keeper on the face of this earth who has ever thought of such a thing.

Real Madrid celebrate winning the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup.
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Real Madrid celebrate winning the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup.JAVIER GANDULDIARIO AS

The Laws of the Game were patiently, capably developed between 1863, when they first began to be drawn up, and 1938, when Stanley Rous wrote up a simple, easy-to-understand rulebook. Since then, the odd necessary improvement has of course been made (the introduction of the backpass rule, for example) but, in essence, the laws have remained just as they were, thanks chiefly to the general good sense of the British, who have half the votes cast on these matters. But now David Elleray, an English former referee who appears intent on reinventing the wheel, has muscled in on the act and, every little while, seems to come up with another genius idea that is then chucked at the Club World Cup to see if it'll stick.