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Concussion substitutes
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Trials of concussion substitutes could be coming to soccer

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LONDON (AP) Concussion substitutions could be trialed in English soccer next season after proposals were presented to the game’s lawmakers.

The Premier League has given an initial suggestion to the rule-making International Football Association Board proposing that the current three-minute period to assess players for concussion would be used to determine if a “head injury replacement” is required.

A framework from the league’s medical advisor seen by The Associated Press said that if there are no immediate signs of concussion then the player would continue to be observed while back in action. If clearer concussion symptoms become evident, then the player can be replaced by a special substitution beyond the three changes currently allowed.

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The English Football Association prefers allowing players to be replaced at least temporarily for 10 minutes to allow a fuller concussion assessment, a person with knowledge of their thinking told the AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the FA’s thinking ahead of the annual meeting of IFAB on Feb. 29 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The FA along with the other British federations hold half of the eight seats on the IFAB board, with international governing body FIFA controlling the other four votes to change laws.

The international players’ union shares the view of the English FA that temporary substitutes should be considered.

“We welcome discussions by football stakeholders with a view to safeguarding players who suffer a concussion,” FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said. “FIFPRO strongly believes doctors must be given enough time and space to assess a player with a suspected concussion in order to enable them to make the correct decision on whether he or she can stay on the pitch. In our view, this means they must be provided with significantly more than three minutes.”

The English FA has also been exploring advice that youngsters should restrict heading the ball in training sessions.

A Scottish study published last year put a fresh focus on the need for footballing authorities to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow found former professional players in Scotland were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die from dementia. Researchers compared the causes of death of 7,676 Scottish men who played soccer with 23,000 similar men from the general population born between 1900 and 1976. Over a median of 18 years of study, 1,180 players and 3,807 of the others died. The players had a lower risk of death from any cause until age 70.

However, they had a 3.5 times higher rate of death from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. In absolute terms, that risk remained relatively small – 1.7% among former players and 0.5% for the comparison group.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

IFAB approves FIFA request to change VAR rule for Women’s World Cup

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A FIFA request to change the awarding of yellow cards for goalkeeper transgressions on penalty kicks has been approved midway through the Women’s World Cup.

The International Football Association Board granted the request after much consternation over the use of Video Assistant Referee to punish goalkeepers for leaving their lines on penalty kicks at the tournament.

The IFAB says the reasoning is simple and starts with VAR’s presence providing the possibility of a retake is more of a deterrent than a yellow card.

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It also notes that VAR makes it likely that yellow card offenses would happen during penalties, and that the rulebook would doom an outfield player to the goalkeeper’s crease since no substitutions are allowed during kicks.

In all of those instances, VAR is slanting the playing field to the kicker.

The announcement comes days after PGMOL said the Premier League would not include goalkeeper positioning amongst its reasons for VAR.

If you’re wondering how many instances other than a player biting another have led to such quick and decisive action from around football, your answer is, “Yes, this has been a nightmare.”

IFAB make changes to handball law

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The International FA board (IFAB) have confirmed that changes have been made to the deliberate handball law at their AGM in Scotland.

“At last, some clarity!” I hear you cry. Let’s see how this goes…

IFAB have confirmed that from next season any goal scored with a hand will be ruled out, with handballs not deemed as deliberate being penalized. A free kick will be awarded when a goal or clear chance is denied by a handball.

Via the BBC, former Premier League referee David Elleray (now IFAB’s technical director) explained the main change to the handball law confirmed from the meeting in Aberdeen.

“Deliberate handball remains an offence,” Elleray said. “In the past we’ve managed to improve the laws by focusing on outcome rather than intent. What we are looking at particularly in attacking situations is where the player gets a clear unfair advantage by gaining possession or control of the ball, as a result of it making contact with their hand or arm.”

The main change to know here is that regardless of intent, any goal scored with a handball will now be disallowed. Another key change ratified by IFAB includes stopping a player from having to put his hands behind his back in fear of committing a ball. Elleray refers to that as a “natural silhouette” and if the ball hits the players arm beyond that silhouette handball will be given.

Other changes confirmed at the AGM include attacking players no longer allowed to stand in the defending wall during free kicks, while goalkeepers now only have to keep one foot on the line during a penalty kick.

Rules panel aims to let goalkeepers move more at penalties

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GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) World soccer’s rule-making panel wants to give goalkeepers more freedom to move when facing a penalty.

Currently, the Laws of the Game state goalkeepers “must remain on the goal line … until the ball has been kicked.”

The panel, known as IFAB, proposed Thursday that goalkeepers should need “only one foot on the goal line when a penalty is taken.”

This would allow `keepers to begin moving forward earlier without risking referees ordering the kick to be retaken if they make a save.

Penalty kicks were the main focus of the International Football Association Board’s business meeting to prepare for a March 1 session when law changes can be approved. New laws will take effect June 1 – the date of the Champions League final.

Other proposals included aiming to write a more precise wording for accidental handball offenses.

“The most significant clarifications relate to `non-deliberate’ handball situations, where there is an unfair `outcome/benefit’ due to the ball making contact with a player’s hand/arm,” IFAB said.

At the World Cup in June, Portugal almost lost its place in the round of 16 when Iran was awarded a stoppage-time penalty for a handball harshly judged against defender Cedric Soares. Iran scored the spot kick, then missed a clear chance to win the game.

IFAB also ended trials with the so-called ABBA order of teams taking penalties in a shootout. To relieve the pressure of one team potentially always taking spot kicks while trailing, the order could be reversed in each successive round.

“The board noted the absence of strong support, mainly because the procedure is complex, and agreed that it will no longer be a future option for competitions,” the panel said.

In other proposals, IFAB wants to cut timewasting by forcing substituted players to leave the field at the nearest touchline, make team officials in the dugouts eligible to receive yellow and red cards, and allow goal kicks to be touched again without leaving the penalty area.

IFAB said it is also looking at ways to curb attacking players disrupting defensive walls, and ordering a dropped ball if an attacking team gains too much advantage from the ball hitting a referee.

The panel includes delegates from soccer’s ruling body FIFA, which has four votes, plus the four British soccer federations. Proposals need six of eight votes to pass.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: IFAB considering doing away with stoppage time substitutions

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A major change could be coming to substitutions in the near future, as the International Football Association Board looks to curtail time wasting.

A report from the Times of London states that the IFAB is considering ruling out substitutions in stoppage time. The IFAB believed that a majority of substitutions taking place in second-half stoppage time are not injury related, and are solely made as a time-wasting tactic. The report states that last season, nearly a quarter of all substitutions made came during second half stoppage time, a 14 percent increase since 2011-2012.

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Its unclear when the IFAB could come to a decision or whether it would really make an impact on decreasing time wasting. Another potential change is to have players leave the field at the closest touchline, avoiding the long walk to the fourth official that can waste valuable seconds.

While it would be likely welcomed in England, the rule change would likely be derided in some Latin American circles, where the win-at-all-costs mantra has led to all sorts of time wasting late in matches from the team in the lead or trying to hold onto a draw. Even without substations after the 90 minutes is up, players can still stall during injuries or during goal kicks. In addition, what if there is a real injury with a player needing to be carted off the field, for example? Would their team not be able to make a change?

Its a decent idea, and time wasting is a long-running problem, but it’s probably important that this idea is worked out more by the IFAB.