In his role as Fifa’s head of global development, the former Arsenal boss is increasingly a nuisance. Having previously championed (unsuccessfully, thankfully) the campaign for staging the World Cup every two years, Wenger’s latest idea has sadly gained some traction with football’s international lawmakers Ifab.
Despite the sport doing pretty well without them for 160 years, there now seems a good chance kick-ins will be trialled in the near future.
Wenger’s thinking is that having the option to kick, rather than throw the ball back into play will cut down on time-wasting and make matches ‘more spectacular and quicker’.
“Maybe with throw-ins you could play with your feet, but in a time limit of five seconds for example, things like that,” he said.
Maybe he’s right. Yet it all does seem to be a bit complicated. For example, if there is a five-second time limit, when does start? It can regularly take longer than twice that to retrieve the ball from the crowd late in matches where the home team are winning.
Neither is Wenger’s idea particularly new. Kick-ins were trialled for a season in the Isthmian League during the 1990s. Perhaps he should contact them and enquire as to why it never took off?
There is a serious point to all this. For while Ifab was happy to look at Wenger’s idea and a proposal to reduce matches from 90 to 60 minutes, calls for temporary concussion substitutes to be introduced were again ignored.
Here is a rule change which really could have huge benefits for the game, not least its participants. Instead, lawmakers decided to merely extend the current trial of permanent concussion substitutes for another year, despite many campaigners – including Dawn Astle – arguing players are still being put at risk.
The key issue is permanent substitutes do little to ease pressure on team doctors when evaluating whether or not a player is well enough to continue. Concussion tests take time and a temporary replacement would allow these to take place in the dressing room, away from impatient managers and fans.
Perhaps the subject simply isn’t zany enough for Ifab?