There has long been the need to change some of the rules in world football, to make it more fairer for all concerned and the recent Netherlands v Costa Rica match in the World Cup just shows how the rules within and around substitution need changing.
In the match, the Dutch manager, Louis Van Gaal decided, apparently beforehand, if all reports are to be believed, to switch the first choice goalkeeper, Jasper Cillessen, for their second choice goalkeeper, Premier League player Tim Krul. The reasons given for this are Krul’s greater height and frame, according to reports from Brazil.
But was this a fair move by Van Gaal? Was it something that should have been allowed?
In terms of substitution, if the manager thinks that someone is not performing, or that he has got his set up wrong, he will substitute one player for another. And quite rightly so. But this is seldom done with a goalkeeper. Instead, it is usual when a team is in front and needing to defend their lead.
But in this match, that was not the case. Cillessen had played well throughout the game, so to substitute him was not on the grounds of lack of performance. It was just another form of one-upmanship and gamesmanship from the Dutch, in an attempt to make it more difficult for the Costa Ricans to play fairly. And one could even consider it a more subtle form of cheating from the Dutch!
Suggestions have been made on this web site about changing the rules regarding substitutions, making it so that a manager or coach can only sub a player before 80 minutes have been played, so that time wasting tactics by managers and coaches can be avoided, but this escapade by the Dutch shows that the need to revise the rules is more ingrained than at first thought.
Krul’s greater height is not the issue as there is only 2 inches between the two goalkeepers. More likely, it is because Krul is more likely to stop penalties than Cillessen that he was chosen. But can this be allowed in the game, especially when reports suggest that Krul spoke to each Costa Rican player before their spot kick, telling them that he knew where they would place the kick?
Players like Rio Ferdinand might like it when their goalkeepers do this sort of thing, but was it a fair move on the first string goalkeeper, to do such a thing? Krul had been told it might happen but Cillessen had not. Does Van Gaal not trust his first choice goalkeeper? Krul even added to the BBC that of the two touches of the ball he had in the game, the two saves were as a result of his getting into the minds of the opponent. He said “I psyched them out. You try to do everything you can without being too aggressive.” But on this occasion, in a quarter final of a World Cup, what appears to have happened to the fans is more than gamesmanship and show-boating. It is a form of cheating and FIFA needs to do something about it soon.