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Football Column

4 Linesman

Indian footballs' connection to England

4 Linesmen

I have watched football all my life and would probably say I have an unhealthy obsession with the game and like all fans I have my own ideas of how to improve it. My main bugbear though is the linesman/referees assistant.

In the top flight in countries like England, Italy and Spain where money is available for it why do we only have two linesmen? Surely it makes sense to have four? Then they can make better judgements on calls on whether the ball crossed the line or not. Also it should increase the likelihood of an attacker getting the benefit of the doubt in offside calls if players are only given offside when both linesmen raise their flags.

But the main reason I have for pushing for four linesmen is because a referee needs their help. The four linesman could then pick up on shirt pulling, elbows and other goings on that goes on out of view of the referee.

What annoys me the most is the blatant body checks and shirt pulls that go on out of view of the referee to stop a player making a run in behind a defender. I do get sick of the media telling me that seeing players sent off spoils the game when to my mind what spoils the game are the cynical so-called 'clever' fouls that stop an attacker in full flow for very little punishment.

Plus I believe that if players got harsher punishment for those sort of fouls they would be a lot less likely to commit them in the first place. I do not believe they would lead to more bookings and red cards overall, just a lowering of cynical fouls.

After all they said the outlawing of the tackle from behind would lead to most games ending with at least one player being sent off but as we have seen all that has happened is that the players have altered their game to compensate for the rule changes.

The other thing, is that a linesman will then always be on the right side of the pitch - unlike now where players can get away with taking corners out of the quadrant etc because the linesman is on the other side of the pitch.

Apart from little modifications like this though I personally feel football has no need to change. Certainly I would hate to see the referee losing the power he currently has as while it might reduce the potential for corruption it would also lose the talking points that the ref provides by making human errors.

Lets face it we all want to talk about the referee not giving or giving a crucial penalty, missing a foul etc which gives us an easy excuse for our team losing rather than admitting it wasn't good enough to beat the opposition.

After all who does not believe that their team is the greatest team there is? We all know that at every level, the fans chant that their team is the greatest the world has seen even though we know it isn't true, we still believe it

Having said that it would be an improvement if the match officials, a representative of the two clubs that have just played, and an independent official all sat down after a match and went through the match video checking their decisions. The club officials could then query decisions that the clubs disagreed with and retrospective punishments or reprieves could be handed out by the match referee.

Indian footballs' connection to England

Football is not just a game, it’s a passion which unites people around the globe. So it does in India. Be it kids or adults, everyone has a passion - the game of football. My first column for will focus the status of English football to Indian football.

English football is highly respected worldwide and the Premier League is titled one of the best leagues. The Premier League is packed with stars from different nations and cultures competing to clinch titles and glory.

The English game has a variety of different aspects, which makes it attractive to football supporters in India. There are two major connections between English and Indian football.

The first connection is the love for the English game. The above-mentioned aspect of a huge amount of international superstars like Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo or Thierry Henry creates a great hype across Indians. Premier League matches are broadcasted live in India and are followed by many Indians. They would like to see their great idols playing for the big teams. Clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal London or Chelsea FC are the clubs, which are supported and cheered most.

Young Indians dream to become footballers earning their money, while playing for top European clubs. English clubs are the most named teams by youngsters, while asked for their favourites, they would like to play in front of fanatic and enthusiastic fans like the English on grounds like Old Trafford or Highbury. They are fascinated by the passion and the enthusiasm English footballers and fans offer.

The second connection between these two countries is the Indian national team, which toured England in the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, while facing several club sides (e.g. Nottingham Forest) and national teams (e.g. Jamaica).

Indian star skipper Baichung Bhutia is the only player, who entered European football while playing for English 2nd Division club Bury FC from 1999 to 2002. Bhutia failed to succeed from a sporting point, but was a big hit while returning to India. He learned from the experiences he made in England and is now one of the best players in Asia. A dream, which is dreamed by many Indian youngsters - they name Baichung Bhutia as their idol, before they go on with players like Ronaldo, David Beckham or Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

Bhutia profited from the different training methods and the physical game in England and brought these new methods to India. The gifted striker made his way to the history books in the second match to start for Bury FC on April 15, 2000, when he became the first Asian player to score a goal in the English professional game.

But why are Indians focusing on England and not countries like Germany, Italy or Spain?! Well, the answer could be the easiest one: There is a huge amount of Indians or persons of Indian origin living in England. This fact is the result of the historical connection between Britain and India.

Football is also popular with Indians in England, although Indians or Asians in general failed to break through in English football. There were and still are many talented youngsters who could make their mark in England and could be possible candidates for the English or even the Indian national team.

Two Indians have already made a big step towards becoming familiar faces in the Premier League: Michael Chopra (Newcastle United) and Harpal Singh (Leeds United). Both have succeeded to leave behind ethnical prejudices and to prove their ability to play football on a high level. Chopra is a regular in the England U21 national team and is tipped to become the first Asian-born player to play for the English senior team.

The future could see more players from the subcontinent in English football, as more and more Indians are showing that they can compete with the best of the best. Furthermore English clubs are realising the talent available in India. The latest example is the partnership between Leicester City and Indian champions East Bengal Club.

Be it past, present or future - the love for the game will strengthen already existing connections and start new ones between different nations, ethnical groups and fans. This should be goal we are striving for…

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