In the 1920s, U.S. soccer proponents were clamoring for a rule change, according to Soccer in a Football World. Said advocates wanted to “Americanize” the game. Specifically, they thought it was ridiculous that substitutions weren’t allowed, even for injured players. So the U.S. Soccer Federation rightfully changed the rule to allow for substitutions—long before either FIFA or the English Premiership did the same.
“This was an innovation which had come very late in relation to other American sports,” writes author David Wangerin on page 67, “though it was not until 1965 that the [English Premiership] allowed substitutes and another five years before they were seen at the World Cup.”
Fancy that. It’s unclear what other countries (if any) were also calling for substitutions at the time. But it’s obvious “Americanization” was on the right side of the argument, despite what purists may have argued. And it’s a clear reminder that changes to the game are sometimes a good thing.
Soccer is a wonderfully climatic sport. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t agree. But you’re thick if you don’t think it can benefit from innovations like those found in other sports. You’re wrong if you think it’s a perfect game.