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 By PA Sport

Arsenal Wenger against Marco van Basten's plan to scrap offside rule

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has questioned proposed changes to the laws of the game, which include scrapping offside, put forward by FIFA technical director Marco van Basten.

The former AC Milan and Netherlands striker has also suggested replacing penalty shootouts with eight-second run-ups and introducing orange cards to send players to sin-bins for 10 minutes.

He has also proposed that players should be involved in fewer matches each season, that games should go straight to penalties without extra-time, children's games to be limited to eight-a-side, stopping the clock every time the ball goes out in the last 10 minutes and only allowing captains to speak to referees.

But Wenger said change for change's sake should not be the goal.

"Changing in itself is not a good quality, improving is the real target," Wenger said. "Some of the proposals are worth discussing, some I don't see any big interest.

"The one I don't find interesting is to suppress offside. Offside is what makes the team good together. It is an intelligent rule as well, it is important to keep that in the game.

"Overall football improves, people say it is too tight and compact but football has always been like that, defence creates a problem for the attack and the attack finds a solution."

But Wenger did agree with Van Basten's proposal about captains and referees, although he said it would be difficult to implement.

He added: "It is a very good proposal, we all dream of that, but it never happens in our sport."

Arsene Wenger believes offside is an intelligent rule.

Respected Rennes coach Christian Gourcuff slammed the offside proposal as "an immeasureable act of stupidity."

"It's the worst bit of stupidity I've read for a long time, and I read a lot. It's an immeasureable act of stupidity!" Gourcuff told media at his club's training centre on Thursday.

"We're back to the times of the soule, village against village and at the time, it ended in deaths..."

Van Basten had claimed scrapping the offside rule would prevent teams from "parking the bus" in front of their own goal, and lead to more spectacular games.

"Offside is the manifestation of intelligence," countered Gourcuff. "There's no collective spirit if we take away offside. Offside is a fundamental rule of football. If you haven't understood that, you haven't understood anything about football."

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic was also doubtful whether getting rid of the offside rule would work.

"For me the major one is offside," he said. "I can't imagine what football would look like, but my first reaction is it's impossible. Everybody would love to have a rest by the goalkeeper on the post and just tap in the ball.

"I really don't know, maybe to try it and see it on a pitch or organise a game. If I had to say now, no, but I don't know what it would look like."

Mauricio Pochettino also felt the offside rule was part of what helps make the game. The Tottenham manager said: "I understand that sometimes when you are in some position you need to try to find ideas, but I don't want a machine without offside.

"If we play without rules, we have to be careful with that. I read some sentences but I don't know. My first impression I think is, be careful. Because in football to change the rules is a very difficult thing."

Van Basten has said he wants to listen to views on his proposals before anything is put before the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the game's lawmakers.

ESPN FC's France correspondent Ian Holyman contributed to this report.


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