Good friends, lovers of the classics like myself, have called me after my article in which I said that football is moving towards the model of time measurement used in basketball. I tell them not to be too surprised. For as long as I can remember, football has taken a lot from basketball. The coach standing up shouting, the substitutions, the statistics, the numbers on the jerseys, the stoppages for each foul, the blocks in the box, the volatility of the squads, and the technological reviews of certain passages of play, are just some areas of both sports that are similar.
Vicente Verdú, in his 1980 book 'Football: myths, rites and symbols', established the differences. Football responded to its rural origin. It is played on grass, the objective is on the horizon, with a referee and two bailiffs. The match, like the day, lasts as long as it lasts. Basketball, now urban, is played in a smaller space and on harder, artificial ground. The net is on top. It is controlled by a bunch of bureaucrats, with high-tech systems, instead of the football referee's old clock. Players come and go frantically and their stats are recorded by strict statistical accounting.
That is where football has gone. Its rules, in place since 1925, like the Tablets of the Law that Moses brought down from Sinai, are now fairer than ever, like basketball rules have always been. I am not one of those who think that everything in the past was better. Today everything is better, except fruit. Football is also better: the pitches without the mud, the balls, the players, the TV on which we watch it, but these new crazy ideas are starting to damage it.