April 11, 2016

"The most extensive revision of the Laws of the Game in IFAB's 130-year history"

It was definitely no April Fools' joke what the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has sent to the national associations, FIFA and their confederations on the 1st April 2016. It seems as if a small revolution is waiting for us: What IFAB Secretary Lucas Brud calls "the most extensive revision of the Laws of the Game in IFAB's 130-year history" will soon be faced by referees and instructors at all levels.

In the following, you receive an early insight into the revision of the Laws of the Game (version 2016/17) that are planned to be released pretty soon. 

© licensed under creative commons: Tim Reckmann on Flickr

Amendments to the Laws of the Game - 2016/17 and other important decisions taken by the IFAB

On the 130th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the IFAB, which took place in Cardiff on 5 March 2016, the following amendments to the Laws of the Game and other aspects have been discussed and approved:

1. Revision of the Laws of the Game - 2016/17

The AGM approved the comprehensive revision of the Laws of the Game undertaken by a IFAB Subcommittee. This is the most extensive revision of the Laws of the Game in IFAB's 130-year history. The IFAB appreciates that translating the new Law book and preparing educational material will involve a lot of work for national football associations, so to assist with this process, the national associations should note the following:

- On 11 April [so far, no updated version], the new 2016/17 Laws of the Game will be available on www.theifab.com! At the end of May, French, Spanish and German versions will follow.


- An updated version of the Law changes presentation given at the FIFA Referee Instructors meeting in Sevilla in February is available online for education purposes.

The main reason for revising the Laws was so they "are more accessible and more easily understood by everyone in football and increase consistency of understanding, interpretation and application". The IFAB is convinced that the revised Laws will enhance refereeing and football at all levels of the game throughout the world.

"This is the most extensive revision of the 
Laws of the Game in IFAB's 130-year history.

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct: Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity

One of the most important Law changes is the revision of the wording for an offence in the penalty area which denies an attacker an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. As the penalty kick effectively restores the lost goal-scoring opportunity, a penalty area offence which was an attempt to play the ball or challenge an opponent for the ball will now be a caution (yellow card), not a sending off (red card). However, to preserve "fair play", handball, holding, pushing, or where the defender makes no attempt to play the ball or has no possibility of playing the ball, the defender will still be sent off (red card). The following wording has been approved and will be reviewed in 2018:

"Denying a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity
Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by a deliberate handball offence the player is sent off wherever the offence occurs.

Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned unless:
- the offence is holding, pulling or pushing or
- the offending player does not attempt to play the ball or there is no possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball or
- the offence is one which is punishable by a red card wherever it occurs on the field of play (e.g. serious foul play, violent conduct etc.)

In all the above circumstances the player is sent off."

A presentation on this topic, including clear examples showing the application of the new wording, will soon be available for download on www.theifab.com.

2. "Sin Bins"

Approval was given for the UEFA experiments involving the use of "sin bins" in youth development matches. A decision will follow in 2017.

3. Fourth Substitution in Extra Time 

Based on a number of requests from national football associations and confederations, the IFAB decided to allow experiments with fourth substitutions in extra time in competitions with knock-out stages where extra time is part of establishing the winner of a match. Competition organisers should contact the IFAB for further information if they wish to apply for permission to the use this system in their tournament(s).

4. Electronic Performance & Tracking System (EPTS)

An update on EPTS was presented and further work will be undertaken.

5. "Triple Punishment"

Approval was given for the new wording in Law 12 for offences in the penalty area which deny the opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

6. Video assistance for Match Officials

Following a two-year debate within the IFAB, including the Football and Technical Advisory Panels, and after consultation with other football stakeholders and sports using video assistance for match officials, the IFAB decided to start an experimental phase using Video Assistant Referees (VARs) to assist with clear errors in match-changing situations.

The aim of this experiment is to answer one important question: "Does the implementation of the VARs improve the game?" and this will be analyzed by an independent research institute under the leadership of the IFAB. The information will be presented to the 2017 and 2018 AGMs.

Currently, the IFAB, with the support of FIFA, is preparing the project protocols and practicalities which are expected to be ready for implementation later this year or in early 2017.

More information on www.theifab.com by early June 2016.


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