Cynical fouling the main target of detailed report
Citing an objective of “making Gaelic football a bit more enjoyable for everyone and a bit more attractive,” Eugene McGee, chair of the GAA’s Football Review Committee, launched Part One of the FRC report in Croke Park yesterday – 18 proposals to improve the game, 10 of which will require motions to congress and which will apply only to football and not hurling.
The report is based on eight months of addressing the views of nearly 4,000 people as variously communicated by the FRC website questionnaire (more than 3,000 replies), written submissions and a series of focus groups organised around the country.
Technical data came from the forensic analysis of 61 match DVDs conducted over 1,500 hours in DCU.
The work on this project – described by GAA president Liam O’Neill as “astounding” – was not according to association director general Páraic Duffy “just that of nine or 10 people but of a wide range of people” and he undertook to “ensure that as many proposals as possible are successful at congress”.
It concerns playing rules and principally the problem of cynical fouling – the highest rated dislike about the game according to submissions.
In combating this, the committee proposes a number of disciplinary measures, including the yellow card provision, first trialled in the 2009 National Leagues. This requires a player receiving a yellow card to leave the field for the remainder of the match with a replacement allowed.
Unsuccessful at congress
Although unsuccessful at that year’s congress – it was eight switched votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority – there was considerable support for the idea and its dramatic impact on foul play in the 2009 leagues.
Other yellow card proposals are that players who accumulate three cards in the same year should be suspended for two matches and that teams which accumulate three cards in the one match will not be able to replace any further players picking up yellow cards.
“We hope to show,” according to McGee, “that it should not pay to receive a yellow card. Players won’t want to be walking off the field in a big match in front of a big crowd.”
Categorisation of fouls also features in the report with the proposed distinction between ‘deliberate’ and ‘accidental’ fouls.
There will be additional pressure on referees, the consistency of whom rated as the second most common dislike about football and – paradoxically or not – disrespect for whom was fifth on the list.
A range of measures, including the above, to address these difficulties have been proposed: publication of a simplified guide to the playing rules, stronger links between national, provincial and local refereeing bodies, cracking down on field incursions and dissent (by extending the 10-metre penalty to 30 metres), enhanced recruitment drives and mandatory visits to teams’ dressingrooms before matches.