European Soccer Chief Opposes Rule Changes : World Cup: International federation has been debating reforms in advance of 1994 competition in U.S.
Sweden’s Lennart Johansson, chairman of the European soccer governing body, UEFA, was quoted today as saying he is opposed to the rule changes suggested for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
Johansson indicated that the changes might please commercial sponsors but will be opposed by the powerful European soccer federations which are members of UEFA.
The international soccer federation (FIFA) said recently it was considering increasing the size of the goal and making other changes in time for the next World Cup to make the game more attractive and boost scoring chances.
Johansson was quoted by the Milan daily, Corriere della Sera, as saying that “reforms must be carefully planned . . . proposals must not be just thrown in.”
Johansson said that commercial sponsors have been pressing for changes in the next World Cup final to leave more room for advertising spots.
“UEFA is the most important association in world soccer and existing rules can’t be changed without its approval,” Johansson said.
He said he is against increasing the size of the goal “as it would make scoring too easy,” and is also against a reduction in the size of the team from 11 to 10 players.
However, he said that the low number of goals scored and the amount of playing time during this year’s World Cup in Italy posed serious problems.
Walter Gagg, an FIFA official who attended Monday’s meeting in Coverciano to discuss the proposed rules changes, said that actual playing time of matches during the 1990 World Cup averaged 54 minutes. Soccer matches last 90 minutes, but play often is stopped following fouls, injuries and when the ball is kicked by defenders into the stands.
Gagg suggested that two halves of 35 minutes be enforced.
FIFA’s board is scheduled to discuss and possibly vote changes at its next meeting Dec. 13.