A few months back, in the wake of the Sepak Takraw transfer, a few English Premier League football players were asked what changes they would make to their game. They were surprised when a surprising consensus was quickly formed from the responses, as the consensus included the introduction of a new ‘scoring system’ to the game.
The player responsible for introducing the new scoring system, named ‘Sakari’, is well-known within the English game, having been the main creator of the famous Takraw rules. Sakari has become something of a legend within the game, as he is known for his involvement with the transfer of Takraw into the Premier League. However, the transfer itself has been the source of much controversy within the footballing world, and Sakari has since had to defend his role in that transaction, and what exactly the rules have changed since the transfer.
The original rules for the Takraw transfer were released by Sakari and his advisors in late 2020, which included a set of rules and scoring system. These rules were later implemented into the official FIFA match book, which has since become the most widely used game in the world. It’s not the rules that have been altered, however, it’s how the rules are being interpreted and applied. In other words, the rules have been changed, but how?
The original Takraw rules stated that ‘A player is said to be out of the game if he loses his ball’. Although this rule was originally in place, the original definition of ‘out of the game’ was also changed to state ‘A player is out of the game if he fails to make a single attempt to gain possession of the ball during the last five minutes of normal play’. Whilst this second clause was in place, the first clause was not. As such, there are several different definitions of ‘out of the game’, and the only two that actually mean anything are the first and second clauses. However, the rules state that any of these three clauses can be used in order to prove a player is not playing.
In spite of the fact that Takraw has changed the rules of football, there have been numerous instances of the rules being changed before the rules were changed for Takraw’s transfer. In the summer 2020, when Chelsea were taking on Bolton in the FA Cup third round, and the game had gone to extra-time, Chelsea had a golden opportunity to win the game on goal-kicks, as Bolton were unable to control their opponents’ crosses and therefore the ball.
But with a golden chance of winning and a golden chance of scoring, Chelsea let the chance slip, allowing Bolton to equalise. With the game going into extra-time, Chelsea then had to win the game on penalties, where it became crucial that Chelsea scored the penalty shoot-out winner.
In the following shoot-out, Chelsea went on to lose to a penalty shoot-out winner by Bolton, whilst they did not find the net on their two attempts. Sakari then announced that he was standing down from his position as a FIFA match referee, as he claimed that he had been unfairly influenced by the Bolton management. However, he soon afterwards announced that he would not be stepping down, stating that he was not against the rules and scoring the penalty shoot-out winner himself. The decision was accepted by the English Premier League, who subsequently stood by their referee.
While Sakari has been widely blamed for the transfer, other Football Association referees, notably David Elleray and Martin Atkinson, have also been accused of influencing referees by influencing the manner in which they are allowed to decide games. Despite the fact that the English FA has recently changed their disciplinary procedures following the recent scandal surrounding David Elleray, this does not mean that any further changes will be introduced.