The Globe – Bethlehem
Wednesday, December 11, 1918
When the Soccer Whistle Blows
By Sita Dell

The matter of adopting rules to allow substitutes in soccer games has been frequently suggested, but despite the strong agitation in favor of this, nothing has ever been done in regards to it. However, at the next annual meeting of the U. S. F. A., it would be no surprise if the governing body established the ruling allowing substitutes in case of injury or if players were ruled off the field. The agitation is becoming stronger every day and it is believed that some action will have to be taken in the matter.

Numerous arguments have been heard to the opposite all of which apparently count for little when the argument in favor of substitution is heard. Only recently at the game between the New York Ship-Bethlehem Steel F. C. this subject was broached when a high official of the Bethlehem team casually remarked “It’s too bad they can’t allow substitutes” when Fletcher was injured and forced to withdraw from the game for several minutes. This remark brought an immediate challenge with, “If that was allowed it would spoil the game. A good player might be injured and a player less his equal substituted.” In reply to this we would say that in such an event the merits of the winning combination would be far more merited with a substitute player than with a lineup of only ten men. From frequent interviews with men locally interested in the Bethlehem F. C. and the fostering of the sport in this city, they are heartily in favor of allowing substitutions. In a recent issue of the New York Tribune this phase was referred to by C. A. Lovett, who says:

“Soccer football is to have its post-war reconstruction period. And once of the important changes coming in soccer law will show the way to legislators of the association game in Great Britain and on the continent, where the sport is both decades older than it is in the United States and years longer in adopting reforms, the need of which his obvious.

“Beyond much doubt the sixth annual meeting of the United States Football Association next spring will see a rule passed to allow for substitutes for injured players in American soccer. The change has been talked of for several seasons past and the time has come when there is a widespread clamor for a rule provision to legalize substations during the course of the game.

“Heretofore when a player has been hurt or ordered from the field during a match his team has had to finish the game with but ten men against the opposing side’s eleven. Soccer history discloses games that have been finished with as few as seven or eight men on one side. Elimination through injury of two or three players is not uncommon where games have been played on hard frozen ground, or on coating of ice, or where the play has been particularly rough.

“There is no rule in the laws of International soccer which bars substitutions. Neither is there a rule which says substitutions are to be allowed. But the ban on substitutions always has been an unwritten law in the old country and it was put into effect here by old country men whose aid Thomas W. Cahill enlisted in introducing the game here.

Custom Unsportsmanlike
“The “father of soccer in the United States” now is honorary secretary of the United States Football Association and is surrounded by progressive Americans for whom the “no substitutes” practice, to begin with, is too unsportsmanlike. A full team winning from a team rendered incomplete by accident does not win on its merits. It is not intended to allow substitutions for players ruled off the field for misconduct.

There is yet another argument in favor of substitutions in American soccer. The American brand of kicking game is as different from the so-call “English style” almost as lacrosse differs from cricket. Dash and aggressiveness is more manifest than precision and mechanical combination. Because American soccer develops more of a bruising scrap than the old country style, injuries to players are more common.

“That this style of greater


“The men who decide the question, however, will need to exercise great care in drafting rules to cover the point, so that no player or manager who would try to abuse the privilege can succeed in doing so. I believe that no team ever should be permitted to use more than two substitutes in any one game.”

“In order to be truly sportsmanlike, college and field club leagues in this country and in rare instances by permission of the opposing club manager, in England and Scandinavia, substitutes have been allowed. But the use of substitute players in all cup competition and league games and in international matches must be provided for in football law that soon.”

Is soccer destined to become the national winter sport to rank in popularity the same as baseball and rugby football? In reply to this we would say that in some sections of the country the populace has become educated to the game and that it is thriving and by far more successful than in Bethlehem, which rightfully can boast of developing a tam that has been returned the undisputed champions of the United States. Strange that in all other avenues of sport the respective branch receives its full quota of support with probably the exception of soccer. For some reason, the efforts of those locally interested in promoting the sport in this city are not fully appreciated which is indicated by the small attendances that journey to the Bethlehem Steel athletic field to see the champions play. Again we say that the efforts of these people interested, giving Bethlehem the best possible in association football are not near appreciated where in other cities the team of the caliber of the Bethlehem champions would crowd stadiums to their capacity. Only recently when the Bethlehem F. C. journeyed to Canada the fact that the champions were to play there brought out no less than 10,000 enthusiasts and this was estimated as a small crowd owing to the inclement weather conditions, snow falling from 7 o’clock in the morning until the time of the game. A good many were under the impression that the game would be postponed, and did not venture near the field. A comparison with this attendance and the crowds that attend the games played here, the Bethlehem contingent would represent a mere handful. Despite these conditions local officials have not been discouraged in their efforts and although luring offers are made to transfer the games, they are not accepted. Mangers of clubs in other cities realize the poor attendance at soccer games


Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club
Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club