131st IFAB AGM agrees fairer game strategy

The 131st Annual General Meeting (AGM) of The IFAB took place at Wembley Stadium and was chaired by Greg Clarke, Chairman of The Football Association. The British representatives as well as FIFA’s delegation unanimously approved a future IFAB strategy, using the Laws of the Game to develop the game by focusing on fairness and integrity, increasing universality and inclusion, and embracing technology. A major initial feature of the strategy will be the behaviour of players and, in particular, the role of the captain and how her/his responsibilities could be enhanced to help improve on-field behaviour and create better communication between players and referees. Methods to tackle time-wasting will also be considered as it is an area about which many fans complain. The members strongly supported this initiative as the next step in delivering “what football wants” following the extensive revision of the Laws of the Game. Other major areas which The IFAB will focus on include handball and a potentially fairer system for kicks from the penalty mark.
Central to the IFAB strategy is also a robust evaluation process for potential future Law changes and initiatives. As part of the ‘what football wants’ approach, the AGM extended the “Modifications” section of the Laws allowing national football associations more freedom to modify the organisational Laws for the lower levels of football e.g. number of substitutions and duration of play, to help them develop their domestic football by encouraging more people to take part. National football associations will decide at which levels the modifications are applied in their domestic football. This does not include competitions involving the first team of clubs in the top division or senior ‘A’ international teams. Additionally, as part of “Modifications”, the proposals to allow temporary dismissals (sin bins) for yellow card offences were approved for youth, grassroots and disability football, as it is the case for return substitutions. The AGM also approved the use of electronic communication systems in the technical area for player welfare and safety, acknowledging the importance of technology in assessing potential injuries with the help of medical data and video material.
On the topic of video assistant referees (VARs), the AGM was updated on the first phase of experiments, including reports from the workshops and more than 20 test matches organised to test the VAR protocol which was approved one year ago. The members also received detailed information on the key learning areas which will be incorporated into the ‘live’ experiments starting in almost 20 competitions from around the world in 2017.
The ‘success’ of the change from a red to yellow card for a penalty awarded for the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity if there was an attempt to play the ball, led the members to extend the principle by removing a yellow card for a penalty kick awarded for a ‘stopping a promising attack’ if the offence was an attempt to play the ball.
The AGM also approved the development of the first minimum safety standard for electronic performance and tracking systems (EPTS) which will regulate the safety of devices worn by players on the field of play.
The modifications to the Laws of the Game made at this AGM will come into effect on 1 June 2017, except for competitions which have started before that date.
The 132nd Annual General Meeting will be hosted by FIFA in February or March 2018

Source: IFAB

Alteration to Law 12 – Denial of a goal-scoring opportunity

After a long debate, the IFAB unanimously approved new wording for Law 12 as submitted by UEFA and agreed that it should be implemented globally for a two-year trial period followed by a review by the IFAB.
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 landmark decision by the International Football Association Board (The IFAB) at its 130th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Cardiff, Wales, will pave the way for the introduction of live experiments with video assistant referees in football. Today’s meeting, held at the St David’s Hotel and chaired by the President of the Football Association of Wales David Griffiths, also saw the most substantial revision of the Laws of the Game get the green light. 
The first item on the agenda was the comprehensive revision of the Laws of the Game – an 18-month project of The IFAB Technical Sub-Committee, led by former English Premier League referee David Elleray. The IFAB unanimously approved the revision, which they identified as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to address anomalies and inconsistences in the Laws. While the main focus is improving the structure and phraseology – with each Law and interpretation now combined, the word count halved and gender neutral language used throughout – some of the 94 edits also include Law changes that are based on common sense and meeting the needs of the modern game. For example, the ball will be able to move in any direction from the kick-off rather than only moving forward (Law 8), while a player who is injured by a challenge punished by a yellow/red card can now have a quick assessment/treatment on the field rather than having to leave the field which gave the offending team a numerical advantage (Law 5). It represents the most comprehensive revision of the Laws ever undertaken in The IFAB’s 130-year history.
With regard to video assistance for match officials, The IFAB approved in principle a detailed set of protocols for the experiments and agreed they should be conducted for a minimum of two years in order to identify the advantages, disadvantages and worst-case scenarios. The set of protocols were drawn up by The IFAB’s Technical Sub-Committee, with support from FIFA’s Technology Innovation Department, and followed discussions with the Football Advisory Panel and Technical Advisory Panel as well as football associations, leagues, other sports and technology providers. The IFAB agreed that live experiments should be implemented at the latest for the 2017/18 season. The expectation is not to achieve 100 per cent accuracy in decisions for every single incident, but to avoid clearly incorrect decisions that are pre-defined “game-changing” situations – goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity. The IFAB agreed to allow one type of experiment, which will involve a video assistant referee having access to video replays during the match and either reviewing an incident on request by the referee, or communicating with the referee proactively about an incident that he/she may have missed (further information available here). The experiments will be managed and overseen by The IFAB with the support of FIFA. A university will be selected to conduct a research study, which will focus not only on refereeing but also on the impact on the game itself, including the emotions of the stakeholders, in order to provide The IFAB with a strong basis for the decision-making process. The IFAB will meet with interested competition organisers and FIFA in the coming weeks in order to define a schedule for the next 24 months. This will include a pre-testing phase with an experiment done in a controlled ‘non-live’ environment as well as referee trainings, workshops and onsite preparation for experiments to be implemented in two testing phases across a number of competitions/leagues. The experiments of testing phase two will be modified based on findings of testing phase one. Further information will follow once the schedule is defined. 
The IFAB also agreed to allow experimentation with a fourth substitution in extra time within a competition/league(s) still to be decided on. The aim will be to see whether there is player welfare benefit, whether the fourth substitute is used tactically or genuinely for player welfare, whether the potential use of all four substitutes during extra time (and thus change more than a third of the team) has an unfair impact. 
The modifications to the Laws of the Game made at today’s AGM will come into effect on 1 June 2016.


Laws of the Game revision and video assistance

The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) has taken a major step forward towards experimentation with video assistance for match officials. During its Annual Business Meeting (ABM) held at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, the Board of Directors gave a strong recommendation for experiments to be given the green light at the 130th Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held in Cardiff from 4 to 6 March 2016. The protocols for such experiments were analysed today and are set to be finalised before the AGM, which would pave the way for live trials to begin as soon as the framework and timelines have been confirmed. A number of football associations and competition organisers have already expressed an interest in running trials. Critical to the development of the protocols was the feedback of the Football Advisory Panel and the Technical Advisory Panel, which were set up in 2014 to support The IFAB with greater expertise before decisions are taken in order to improve the way in which the global football community helps to shape the Laws of the Game. 
In another important development, The IFAB ABM approved a comprehensive revision of the Laws of the Game to make them more “user-friendly”. By halving the word count, the new format improves the structure, layout, terminology, phrasing and consistency in order to increase the universality and understanding of the Laws. The 2016/2017 edition of the Laws is set to include the changes, subject to ratification at the AGM in March. It represents the most comprehensive revision of the Laws ever undertaken in The IFAB’s history. 
The members also received an update on the ongoing process to introduce a Quality Programme for electronic performance and tracking systems. The consultation process with key stakeholders such as leagues, clubs, national teams, FIFPro as well as industry representatives is continuing, with the first draft of a global standard set to be presented to The IFAB later this year. This will include minimum safety requirements for players, provisions around data protection, as well as a high quality standard for professional football focusing on performance requirements of the systems. 
Other topics discussed included “triple punishment”, the use of “sin bins” and “Law 3 – The Number of Players”, which are all set to be discussed further at the AGM. 


New signalling system for AARs

The Additional Assistant Referee (AAR) system has been introduced in the UEFA's top competitions for several years. According to the official guidelines, the AARs were supposed to only communicate with the referee through the communication system. However, the new FIFA Laws of the Game (page 86) allow AARs, in some instances, to use “discreet hand signals that may give valuable support to the referee. The signals should have a clear meaning that should have been discussed and agreed upon in the pre-match discussion". Based on that and following some recent goal-no goal situations in the Champions League, UEFA Chief Refereeing Officer, Pierluigi Collina, advised all AARs that, in addition to using the communication system, they must clearly signal for a goal with the left arm perpendicular to the goal line pointing towards the centre of the field (flagstick in the left hand is also required), as done by Danny Makkelie in the recent Champions League match Arsenal - Olympiakos (photo).
UEFA submitted an official proposal to the IFAB to implement the following text in the new edition of the Laws of the Game:
"When the ball has wholly crossed the goal line within the goal, the AAR must:
- immediately inform the referee via the communication system that a goal should be awarded,
- make a clear signal with the left arm perpendicular to the goal line pointing towards the centre of the field (flagstick in the left hand is also required).
The referee will make the final decision."

Source: Daily Mail

Additional IFAB guidance on Law 11 – Offside

Ahead of the 2015/16 season, the body responsible for reviewing the laws of football, the International FA Board (IFAB), has issued new guidance to match officials around the offside law. The two new points of guidance are an addition to the current interpretation of interfering with an opponent, but do not constitute a change in the Laws of the Game.
The additional IFAB guidance
A player in an offside position shall be penalised if he:
1. clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent or 
2. makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.
1. “Clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent”. The first part of the guidance has three elements: clearly attempts to play a ball; close to him; and when this action impacts on an opponent and all three of these elements are required for an offside offence to be committed. Judgement should be based on the physical evidence of the movement and actions of the player in an offside position. Attacking players who clearly attempt to play a ball which is close to them, and in doing so clearly impact on an opponent's ability to play the ball, should be penalised.
2. “Makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball”. The second part of the guidance has two elements and both an obvious action and impact are necessary for an offside offence to be penalised. Match officials will have to consider whether an obvious action by an attacking player in an offside position means that the opponent would need to delay his action to wait and see if the attacking player in an offside position touches or plays the ball, and/or, the opponent's movement or ball-playing options are clearly restricted by the movement and/or actions of the attacking player in an offside position.
"Clearly attempts": this wording is designed to prevent a player in an offside position who runs towards the ball from quite a long distance being penalised (unless he gets close to the ball).
"Close": is important so that a player in an offside position is not penalised when the ball goes clearly over his head or clearly in front of him. 
"Impacts": applies to an opponent's ability (or potential) to play the ball and will include situations where an opponent's movement to play the ball is delayed, hindered or prevented by the offside player. 

Source: IFAB/Premier League