International Football Association Board

Handball rule
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IFAB: New handball rule can be adopted when games resume

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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) issued a letter from secretary Lukas Brud on Wednesday, outlining several changes to the game.

The “tee shirt line” handball rule may be coming to club football quicker than expected due to the coronavirus suspension of the 2019/20 season.

IFAB will allow leagues the choice to use the new handball rule when matches resume this season, also making changes to VAR protocol and vowing to review the offside rule.

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The new handball rule states that the shoulder goes to the end of the shirt sleeve or the bottom of the armpit (though obviously not in the case of a long-sleeve jersey).

For the purposes of determining handball offences, the ‘arm’ stops at the bottom of the armpit

So… get ready for baggy, longer jersey sleeves, or the increased recruitment of players with the longest armpits.

Kidding aside, the handball rule desperately needed clarification and we’ll see if this gives enough to fans and players alike.

Referees will now be “expected” to go to the screen on the field when a call is subjective, forcing the official to either uphold or overrule his initial call.

This same post says IFAB will now allow accidental handballs in the run-up to a goal in certain situations.

“Accidental handball by an attacking player should only be penalized if it ‘immediately’ results in a goal or an obvious opportunity for the player and/or their team to score a goal (i.e. following the handball, the ball travels only a short distance and/or there are very few passes).”

Well, that needs some clarification.

Back to the timing issue for the new handball rule, it seems logical that leagues would want to introduce new laws with a new season but stand-by for the decision of your favorite league.

As for the offside rule, “The members agreed that the fundamental philosophy of offside is underpinned by a desire to encourage attacking football and the scoring of goals. It was further agreed, therefore, that Law 11 – Offside should be analyzed and reviewed with a view to potentially proposing changes reflecting this philosophy.”

It’s a lot to unpack, and we’ll surely here from proponents and opponents of the changes soon. As always, implementation will make the biggest difference in how these changes are received.

Italian Football Fed requests five subs per match

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Italian football has asked the International Football Association Board to consider the use of five substitutions during Serie A matches.

The BBC says Serie C has already implemented the idea, and that moves are made over three scheduled stoppages.

Several leagues have okayed the use of a fourth sub in stoppage time.

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Are more than three subs the future of the game?

It’s not insane to think that more subs could lead to more excitement and even more interesting tactics, as fresher legs and new instructions challenge managers and defenders.

The scheduled stoppages would be an area of concern, though, even if they would reduce the stoppages in play. A manager’s need to wait to implement a sub rather just fix what ails the team would take something away from the matching of wits.

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.”

Did you know the offside rule got tweaked? UEFA’s chief referee explains.

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Last spring, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) — the group responsible for soccer’s rules — tweaked the offside rule. In principle, the rule (Law 11) remains the same, but the board wanted the interpretation of “gaining an advantage in being in [an offside] position” to be clarified.

Here’s the full section of Law 11, as if concerns defining an offside violation:

A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

  • interfering with play or
  • interfering with an opponent or
  • gaining an advantage by being in that position

And here’s the clarification, from UEFA’s website:

In the context of Law 11 on offside, the following definitions (changes in bold) now apply to the above:

  • “interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball
  • “gaining an advantage by being in that position” means playing a ball
    • that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position
    • that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position

In addition, from this season: “A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage.”

It might take a couple of reads, but on paper, it ultimately makes sense. The IFAB’s trying to be more precise as to what is (and what is not) gaining an advantage.

In practice, however, this means something new for UEFA’s referees, meaning the offside rule was a point of focus when officials met for summer instruction in Nyon. The governing body’s chief refereeing officer, Pierluigi Collina, was on hand to make sure the new interpretations were hammered home:

“This course [was] very focused on offside, as it’s important to have the assistant referees attuned to the new interpretation and to the new text of Law 11. Offside is such an important thing that it deserves to be carefully dealt with.

“The main things to be considered now with offsides, in assessing the position of a player as interfering with an opponent, [involve] clearly obstructing the line of vision of an opponent and challenging the opponent for the ball. So these are the two criteria to be assessed in order to deem a player who is in an offside position as punishable.

“Gaining an advantage from being in an offside position … now the assistant referees and the referees should consider the nature of the play of the defender, because if the defender made a deliberate play, the outcome of the play doesn’t matter – with the exception of a ‘save’ – and so being in an offside position and gaining an advantage from being in an offside position is not an offence any more.”

(Source: UEFA.)

In other words, there are fewer ways the defense can be bailed out by the offside rule. A player may be in an offside position, but don’t expect the flag to go up if your carelessness backpass gives him the ball.

It’s all pretty esoteric stuff, and for most of your soccer-viewing life, these interpretations will be irrelevant. But if you’re in a bar today and somebody says Stefan Keißling should be whistled offside after Rio Ferdinand plays the ball back to him, you’ll know what to do.