"Backcourt" rule in soccer?

After reading the thread on why Americans dislike soccer, somebody made a comment that a rule similar to the “backcourt” rule in basketball would be beneficial in that regard.

What would the consequences of such a rule be? I’m a sometime fan of soccer, and imagine it might be an interesting rule, but I don’t have enough experience to predict how the game would change.

Anyone have any ideas?

Well, first you’re going to have to explain the backcourt rule.

In basketball, once the team with the ball moves the ball out of the court they’re defending (the backcourt), they aren’t allowed to move the ball back into their end.

The entire rest of the world gets along with an agreed upon set of rules for soccer and all we Americans can think to do is screw with the rules? I, for one think the rules are fine how they stand but I would agree that they are not geared for the American audience. The clock does not stop for bathroom breaks, beer runs, or nacho-making. The rules are for players to play, not watchers to watch.

The existing rules allow the team in possession to make numerous passes in order to tempt the defending side out of position. A “backcourt rule” would make this harder - it’s easier for the defending side to cover only half the pitch than the two-thirds to three-quarters they presently need to cover in order to shut down this approach play. Or else it would cut out of play all of the attacking side’s players who need to remain reasonably near their own goal in case of a break by the defending side, forcing the side in possession to attack with six or seven players against eleven defenders.

In short, though it seems like the rule change would enforce attacking play, it would actually favour defensive play. (I understand that a basketball defence can do far less against the attackers than a soccer defence can.)


hmm have to think on that, though my initial reaction is that it would be such a huge rule change that it would in effect be a new game. Most ‘boring’ games are not because the attacking team is passing the ball around midfield, but because they get stifled, lose the ball in the final third. I don’t see why banning players from passing the ball into their own half from the opponents half would achieve the presumable desired result of making the game more exciting.

I suppose the nearest thing in football to whatever the hell the OP is talking about is that the goalie cannot handle the ball if it is kicked back to him by one of his own team. He can handle it is it’s headed back, though. Goalies tend not to be the most skilful (one L) dribblers so you’d be a bit of an eejit to pass back to him if there are attackers around.

A less drastic change that would encourage teams to be more attacking would be to change the points system. Currently, in an EPL league game you get 3 points for a win, and 1 point for a draw. You could change this to 3 points for a win, 1 point for a score draw and nothing for a no score draw. Points have been changed in the past (used to be 2 points for a win) so this is a more realistic rule change that would hopefully result in more attacking play.

That is the one rule change I have always advocated - no goals = no points. That would make it your first aim to score once.

I remember seeing a statistical study which showed that the change from 2 points to 3 points for a win has in fact had no discernible effect on goals scored per game, so I am sceptical that tinkering with the points system again would work.

It may be that it wouldn’t work, but a change that meant the teams got nothing for a no score draw would mean you had no incentive to just keep aclean sheet. To get something out of the game you would be forced to attack.

And thereby ruining one of the main things that makes football so universally appealing. Take the FA Cup - a non-league team that plays the right tactics can stop even the best of the Premier League from scoring. They might try to win on the break (in fact, that’s really their only chance of getting through) but if they go for an all out attack they’re bound to get stuffed. It’s that cat&mouse aspect that makes such games so interesting, even if it does end up as a 0-0 draw.

In fact, this whole OP starts with the false premise that 0-0 draws are detrimental to the game. I’ve seen boring games where one team obliterates the other - no fun to watch at all, especially if you route for the underdog. I’ve also seen fascinating 0-0 draws - England against Portugal last week, for example.

A good point. Remember the England v San Marino game some years ago? England was so superior that the BBC actually cut away from its live TV coverage to show Scotland’s game (which was taking place at the same time) instead - the only time they have ever done this for an England game.