Are you ready for penalty boxes in FIFA-sanctioned soccer? If you’re anything like a typical change-averse soccer fan, you’ve already page down-ed to the comments to eviscerate me for even bringing it up. While a good rhetorical flogging is fun for all, you may want to save your energy for bigger fish, with the International Football Association Board set to discuss the idea at next month’s Annual General Meeting in Vienna.
It’s one of three contentious ideas included in the “Any Other Business” section of the rule-maker’s agenda (released on Monday via FIFA’s website). Among the other topics to be discussed are video replay as well as the so-called “triple punishment” – when a straight red card leads to a penalty kick as well as a subsequent suspension for the offending player.
Penalty boxes — or “sin bins,” as they’re referred to on the agenda — are already being used on a trial basis in Dutch recreational leagues. Under the experiment, players can be sidelined for five- or 10-minute periods, depending on the nature of their foul. Once players have served the penalty time, they are allowed back on the field, providing match officials an alternative to yellow and red cards.
At UEFA’s request, discussion of ‘triple punishment’ has been put onto the agenda, with some feeling the potential ejection, penalty kick, suspension scenario is a disproportionate punishment. Possible solutions would see a player absolved of a red card in situations where the denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity gives the attacking team a penalty. Currently, the automatic dismissal means players would be suspended for their next game in addition to giving up a penalty kick to their opponent.
Allowing the use of video replay will also be discussed, with the dialog around the issue too immature to say what an initial version would look like. Regardless, each of these issues is some way from reaching implementation. The ideas are only being considered for referral to two new advisory committees IFAB’s about to form. Should those committees review and recommend changes, the board would then act on the proposal.
That five-member IFAB board is composed of a FIFA representative and one person from each of Britain’s home nations. The two new panels — one made up of players and coaches; the other a technical group of referees and rules experts — will provide recommendations to IFAB, which makes the final decisions on any changes of the game’s laws.
Three other less controversial rule changes have been included in the main part of the agenda: guidance on acceptable head-dress; a pilot project allowing “rolling substitutions” at the amateur level; and a ban on any political, religious, or personal slogans, images, or statements on players’ undershirts.