What if Football Stopped for a Year?

As Arrigo Sacchi so memorably put it, football
is “the most important of the unimportant things in life.” Following football is essentially a full-time
job now. The endless blur of Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday thrums through the calendar like a bassline
and – with press conferences, transfer news, twitter, and fantasy football, it’s easy
to become overwhelmed. This is no accident. The Football Industrial
Complex demands ceaseless expansion. The World Cup is getting bigger. The European Championships
have already been expanded. Women’s soccer at all levels deserves much more attention.
Soon, FIFA will launch its re-imagined Club World Cup, too. There are still times of the
week upon which the sport has yet to plant its flag, but none of those days are safe
and nothing is sacred. Is this what fans want? Not really, but that
doesn’t seem to matter. Profit is king and at its worst, football looks a lot like capitalism:
mechanised, distasteful, unavoidable. But what if it wasn’t? What if we could
press the pause button on football? What if, against all odds, everyone involved in the
game agreed to stop, just for a year? Not the whole industry, but the matches. What would happen? And might the sport be
better for it? The players would certainly benefit, as they
currently play far too much football. As the physical demands of matches have increased—players
run farther and faster than ever before—so too has the number of games in the schedule.
Real Madrid played 62 competitive games in 2017-18. Flamengo, in Brazil, played a frankly
inhumane 82 times in 2017. It’s little wonder that, by the time World Cups roll around,
so many stars are suffering from injuries and fatigue. A year without matches would allow everyone
to get fit. Imagine a refreshed Alexis Sánchez, with those consecutive tournaments rinsed
out of his muscles, raring to go. Imagine Gareth Bale forgetting where the physio room
at the Bernabéu even is. Or Son Heung Min, not having to fly for days to satisfy his
club and international commitments. There could be psychological and emotional
benefits which, coupled with fresher bodies, could have a tremendously positive effect
on the standard of play. It could provide an advantage for young, developing players
too, who are often the casualties of a deepening ‘win now’ culture and whose careful incubation
is prohibited by the calendar. What if academy prospects could be gently
embedded within sides, becoming increasingly involved in training sessions and acquiring
first-team responsibilities without quite as much pressure. What if they were given
time to grow at a responsible pace? Football’s current form is inhibiting for
coaches, too, who have to build their sides over short pre-seasons. Coping with injuries
and transfers is one challenge, but the congested calendar poses another: with all those games—and
the many days which are inevitably lost between them —there’s never quite enough time
on the training ground. What if, as a consequence, the world is only
seeing the half-formed ideologies of the game’s highest priests? How fierce could Jurgen Klopp’s
counter-pressing be? What might Pep Guardiola’s attacking football look like? How many new set-piece routines could Tony
Pulis imagine and execute? Impatience and short-termism in the stands
and boardrooms prevents vision from fully flowering. Only the lucky are given time to
build with substance and to put their big ideas someway into practice. The rest are
really just watching the guillotine blade glint in the sunlight. In the most extreme
circumstances, that can directly influence the kind of football that is being played:
A manager who needs a result is always likely to be more risk-averse, his team more defensive.
The game’s imperatives – its week-to-week grind – has made expression a luxury that
most coaches have to do without. A year-long sabbatical would partly solve
those issues. With time to really consider their decisions,
owners could appoint managers in line with a broader vision for their clubs, not just
grab at the most convenient option. With no defeats or draws to muddy the waters, those
managers could go about their business without fear of dismissal. And with months and months
for them to develop their tactics and teach their players new habits, a technical improvement
on the field of play would be inevitable. And what of the supporters, whose dependency
seems so absolute? Even though their enthusiasm for the game
is often assumed to be insatiable, the narrowing gap between seasons is beginning to test that
assumption. Summers are no longer the barren prairies they once were: 2019 saw three international
tournaments running simultaneously through July and the Champions League qualifiers began
before the end of the month. So, while fan are still looking forward to the domestic
season beginning, it perhaps isn’t with that same fluttering, sugar-rush ache of anticipation. Scarcity was football’s ally. Rewind twenty
years and football on television was still a novelty, even in homes with satellite television.
Today, you can watch a Spanish game on Monday night, gorge on continental football on Tuesday,
Wednesday, and Thursday, catch the Friday-night Ligue 1 match and the earlier Eredivise kick-off
on Sunday, and then fill in the gaps with as many games as life allows. Long, boring summers also used to replenish
football’s novelty, dimming the memory of goalless draws and tedious mid-table finishes.
The eight-month conversation around the sport used to end in May and not begin again until
August. The internet changed that, of course, but so too has the unending fixture list:
every game has an implication for some club, somewhere, meaning that the debate has become
ceaseless. As soon as the first pre-season friendly kicks off, the opinions, complaints
and hyperbole begin too. The cumulative effect is deadening fatigue,
which any 12-month hiatus would quickly alleviate and replace with a more traditional yearning. It’s a fantasy scenario. Football’s gears
need to keep grinding to fill the pockets of its stakeholders and sponsors, and the
clubs themselves are businesses first and sporting entities second. The games are part
of their branding strategy; a rolling advert which never ends. But if they did – if football’s fields
were left fallow for a year – a richer sport might just grow in its place.

100 thoughts on “What if Football Stopped for a Year?

  1. To reduce games and travelling, and in response to Ally McCoist complaints about the Champions League not being contested by champions, I have devised a solution… UEFA oversees 55 domestic European leagues, and they are ranked best to worst… You take the 24 lowest ranked league champions (from Estonia, Andorra, etc) and play a one off game. This eliminates 12 teams. Then you take the next 10 worst ranked teams and put them in a pot with the 12 teams that won their last game. 22 games, 11 eliminated, 11 go through. Add those 11 to the top 21 ranked teams, and you get 32 teams. Then you have a straight 1 game knock out formula just like the FA Cup (no seeded teams – no 2 legs). This would reduce games (max played would be 7, but most likely 5) and travelling… It would increase the likelihood of a 'random' winner (much like FA Cup's Wigan, Wimbledon etc)… (I believe) it would add to the romance of games (like Barca v Bayern, Man Utd v Juve etc) as they would come around less frequently. And you increase the likelihood of smaller teams playing big teams, which aids smaller leagues/teams revenue. You could then run identical tournament set-ups for the 2nd placed teams, and even 3rd (?) and bring in the same format for domestic Cup winners…!? I know the people in charge would never go for it, but for fans and certainly players, it would probably be for the best!

  2. I think one year is a bit much but maybe start limiting the number of games a player can play in a year (or set a limit per Month). Also North American fans have never had summers off as MLS and CPL are summer leagues.

  3. This is how I’d do it:

    Year 1. Regular Year
    Year 2. Break Year
    Year 3. Regular Year
    Year 4. World Cup Year

  4. How does not working help players, particularly in less glamorous leagues, where their weekly paycheck is actually necessary to put food on the table? A lockout would be fine in places where the sport is king and can pick up where it left off, but in North America, killing a year stops all the growth that has occurred in the past 5 years. So while Europe’s top flight leagues might be able to absorb this “sabbatical,” the average player and the leagues which are still in growth stages cannot merely hang the boots up for a season.

  5. The year off can happen… for players. The first sabbatical was forced upon Eric Cantona. Look what it did for his game! M

  6. Honestly, that's why I completely skipped the 2017-2018 season. I was burnt out on football and wasn't enjoying it as much. When the 2018-2019 came around, I had a new appreciation for the game.

  7. Am I the only one who loves the congested Football Calendar? There’s a reason why we are paying big amount of money ? to watch Football. That’s why clubs have the money to build a squad not only a starting 11

  8. How about just using more players instead of pausing football?
    Rotating squads more could allow for expansion whilst managing fatigue of first team players, and could also make competitions less predictable due to the quality of teams fluctuating more throughout the season.
    Also, wouldn't pausing for a whole year be unfair to players who are at their peak or just breaking through?
    Interesting idea but I don't see it getting much support.

  9. I think this could be a very interesting 2 years we have ahead of us with the regular league seasons and also we have Euro 2020 coming up in the summer. I’m curious how European players bodies will be by the end of the 2020-2021 season. I’m not even mentioning the euro 2020 qualifiers also in between.

  10. What if there were a rule that no individual player could play more than, say, three games in a two week span, but clubs could schedule as many games as they like? Meaning that they would have to rotate eligible players for each game? It would give players more rest time, give developing players more playing time, and keep us from losing any games from the schedule. (The three games in two weeks is just an example, there's probably a better specific way to define the limit. The idea is just that players wouldn't play in every game their club plays)

  11. I think you guys should put a video about Bury FC and why they got removed from football league. I think that it will help many people understand what’s going on and from a very neutral point of view as many other channels are talking about this very biasly and I would like to have different perspectives on what actually happened.

    P.S im posting football content as well Including highlights and stats so if anyone sees this please sub or watch one of my videos it will mean a lot to me!

  12. I couldn’t deal, but it’s a really thought provoking question. I do agree though that footballers get run into the ground all in the name of money, and breaks wouldn’t really go over well with fans who religiously follow their team. So although alot of blame could go towards the money hungry corporations, we the consumers are at fault as well, we’re really the reason why the market is like this.

  13. I think I have a solution to the problem of capitalism preventing this: turn football into a reality show for a season once every 5 seasons. Every club could select amateur applicants to play for them for a whole season. It would be a bit of a laugh, bring in money for the clubs and league and would mean you could still follow your club.

  14. I think the value of stopping for a year is being vastly overstated. It would not solve nearly as many problems as Tifo seem to think in my opinion. And I'm frankly tired of this talk of doing away with most matches and international competition. Players are hired employees. Does anyone here get time off from their work because they are tired of it? Footballers basically have no summers, yes. Well tough luck. Choose another multi million dollar job that is easy and relaxing. There is none. In fact compared to most football players have so much free time it's comical. 5 hour practice days during the season? Poor things, I wish I had a job like that, playing the sport I love. In the end, football exists because of the fans, I'm all for supporting player's rights and abolishing this greedy capitalism, but when us fans start to suffer (from having less football to watch) it's a step too far. Players work for us, not the other way around

  15. You and Jack Lang obviously have zero (or worse) understanding of economics. There are so many jobs that depend directly on football that a year off would send the world into one the worst economic catastrophes in history. For every job directly dependent on football (players, coaches, announcers, stadium personnel, etc.) there are dozens of jobs indirectly dependent on it (bars, restaurants, travel, advertisers, etc.). And the fans? You honestly think many of them would be okay with it? Really? Yes, reduce the scope and number of tournaments and reduce the number of international friendlies; and guarantee every player at least two full months off every year. But a year without soccer is the stupidest idea to ever come from this channel.

  16. Your persistent shilling of women's football is embarrassing. No one cares. Look at the view counts of your women's football videos compared to your other ones if you don't believe me.

  17. How about just doing what the NBA or NFL do in America and run an 8 month season with plenty of time to recover and tactical prep in between seasons?

  18. no womens football does not deserve more attention there's not much skill involved if you're watching womens football you watch it because it's women not because it's interesting

  19. I think it would be better to have a regular winter break and a regular longer summer break. This might necessitate teams playing fewer matches; perhaps by reducing the no. of teams in (some) leagues.

  20. ditch unimportant FA cup, Qarabaq cup, Community shield and other unimportant cups. Stick to the league matches only and european cup

  21. Football players to much games it’s a different sports but NBA season is 82 games and sometimes the team play back to back nights in a week..

  22. This tifo channel I just bumped into it , a day ago but boy or boy doesn't it have interesting and informative subject's…… I am hitting the subscriber button pap!!!

  23. Yeah it would be good for the players but it would be awful for the fans. I find it hard wait for two weeks for the PL to return after International Friendlies. Can't even imagine a year without football

  24. One thing stop the pointless international brack no one care about international friendley whan ur team doing well and there a international brack it bad for clubs and fans so stop the pointless international bracks.

  25. 2:21 Now I get the speed… he was jamaican all along! x)

    A year off is undoable, but a minutes per season cap could be done (or per month). It would force managers to distribute the talent better and to give chances to youngsters, while preventing injuries (in theory at least).

    Although it would agravate this tendency where big teams have a top tier 11, and then top/almost top tier substitutes.

  26. Almost all trophies are awarded every year. So when you win the champions league in August and qualifiers start in July you are European champions for less than 2 months and defenders for the next 10. The joy of winning is never so hollow than when it has no greater impact. Last year is wiped clean and no legacy is left behind more impactful than the best matches you played along the way. It is true in all perssuits in life the climb matters more than what lies on the other side, but it means a lot more when you get to sit at the summit and enjoy the view.

  27. ditch the league cup. Keep FA cup. And how about more time off in the offseason? Show the ending of Woman's football during the offseason so it can be more exciting to watch as a distraction until the premier league starts

  28. This year break is such a unique concept great vid only thing is it doesn't really have many benefits to players who are free agents or players coming to their end of their career

  29. If I'm being honest…I love football. International games are never that exciting apart from the World Cup, but I can't say that I ever get overwhelmed with the amount of games

  30. Wtf?! Get back to reality, football dont necessarily improce because of a year without football. Sure there might be too many matches but this is an extreme suggestion that dont even gaurentee improvement.
    Are you owned by the athletic?

  31. You don’t have to pause the sport for a year. Eliminate league cups, get rid of the European Supercup, make international breaks breaks in general, make international friendlies pre-season exhibition matches for important competitions only (World Cup, Copa America, Gold Cup, etc), and a mandatory one month break from all football competitions per year (including friendlies), and you are all set.

    On a side but related note, this year the Liga MX season kicked off in July! Fucking July!!! That is way too early!

  32. Will this one year leave of absence of playing help low tier teams to be more competitive against top tier teams?

  33. – What if in extra times one player was removed from each time every X minutes.
    – What if the penalty spot was moved back a few meters.
    – Penalties must be taken by the player fouled

  34. How would a functional FFP look like? What would be it's implications? And how would it better the football scenario?

    Right now it's money Vs football. This could be interesting video topic aswell!

  35. Football is great but it's too fast paced. A season lasts for about 9 to 10 months but a season really should go over a year to provide more rest to players. It would also be better that way for the physical and mental health of everyone involved.

  36. But in order for this to really work in the long term, there would have to be such a break every few years. Otherwise everything will be back to status quo soon.

  37. Crime Rate?
    Suicide Rate ?
    TV Ratings?
    Revenue ?
    If there's was anything I learned from the Work Stoppage from the NFL & NBA that it killed Revenue in all angles. We didn't see an NBA Game until Christmas in 2011. The NFL only got away with Cancelling just one Game.

  38. I think Mourinho has out smarted us all, Currently his without a Job. who knows what his planning on for when he returns for management.

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