European soccer coaches discuss rule changes at UEFA meeting

Sending off a player who commits a professional foul in the area while awarding a penalty kick for the same challenge was a double punishment and unfair, European soccer's top coaches said Friday.

"Even some managers who benefited from situations where they had someone sent off or the rule went their way, they were still questioning whether it was a good rule or not," Lyon coach Gerard Houllier said.

In such situations, Houllier said, "maybe you could call for more common sense on the part of the referee."

UEFA's technical director, Andy Roxburgh, said the idea behind the existing rule was "the goal-scoring chance has been denied but you get it back again by getting the penalty." He added: "If the tackle is not violent, (the coaches) think the referee should have the option of giving the yellow card."

Houllier, Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson, Real Madrid's Fabio Capello and Italy's now-retired World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi met in Geneva to exchange ideas with UEFA, European soccer's governing body.

The meeting also heard calls for referees to crack down on time-wasting and shirt-pulling, and greater clarity for the sport's complicated offside rule that can confuse players.

Houllier, a UEFA Cup winner in 2001 with Liverpool, called the session "fruitful," even if UEFA can only recommend changes in the laws of the game to FIFA's international board.

On offside, Houllier said many of the coaches thought the rules needed to be clearer.

"We are aware that at the moment the rule creates a bit of confusion not only for the players, but also for the fans."

The result of the confusion, Houllier said, was that teams play more defensively instead of going for more goals, which the changes in the rule were supposed to promote.

Houllier also suggested that referees take a tougher line on time-wasting.

"Maybe there should be a very clear rule that once the free kick is given, don't touch the ball anymore," Houllier said. "It looks like it varies according to some referees what you can do," reports AP.