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Match Officials

IFAB rule changes – What you may have missed…

2 August 2019

A new season is upon us.

After months of meticulous preparation ahead of the new campaign, the 2019/20 season gets underway this weekend in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two.

Whilst the return of a weekly footballing fix will be in the calendar of supporters up and down the country, the subtle changes to the laws of the games may be an area some fans are unaware of.

From the handball rule to penalty kicks and cautions for managers and players alike, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) have introduced more than twenty changes to the current laws of the game.

That’s not only important to note for the Match Officials that take to the pitch each week to enforce those very rules, but also to players of all 72 Clubs and the supporters attending EFL fixtures.

To guide you through some of the changes, Select Group 2 Director, Alan Wiley, was on hand to discuss the impact it may have on referees ahead of the big kick-off.

Law 12

Handball text re-written for greater clarity/consistency with clear guidelines for when ‘non-deliberate’ handball should (and should not) be penalised

“The way in which our officials interpret the unintentional position of the hand or arm has not changed and fans should expect the same offenses that were penalised last season to be penalised this season.

“Encouragingly, the Law has been amended so that players cannot score where the ball goes into goal from their hand or arm – however inadvertently. Also if an attacker gains control of the ball that leads to a goal scoring chance from an accidental handball this will now be penalised.

“It’s a positive step because I think people who play and watch the game believe we shouldn’t be allowing goals to stand that come off of the hand/arm.”

Law 13

When there is a defensive ‘wall’ of at least 3 players, all attacking team players must be at least 1m from the ‘wall’; IDFK if they encroach

“In previous seasons we have seen teams gain an advantage by forwards pushing into the defensive wall to try and create a gap for their teammates. Now, having that distance away from the wall removes that problem and makes the game fairer, which is what we’re all looking for. It should also speed up play by enabling the kick to be taken more quickly.”

Law 14

Goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot on, or in line with, the goal line when a penalty kick is taken; cannot stand behind the line

“This allows the goalkeeper to effectively take one stride forward as the kick is about to be taken. The assistant referee will monitor goalkeeper movement and the will alert the referee to any significant cases where the goalkeeper doesn’t have that foot on or in line with the goal line. It will be Interesting to see how this impacts on the keeper’s ability to save the penalty.”

Law 16

At goal kicks, the ball is in play once it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not have to leave the penalty area

“This was brought in because a goal kick is similar to a free-kick, in the way that anywhere else on the field you could take a short free-kick and the ball was in play, yet that wasn’t the case at a goal kick.

“There was no apparent reason for this, so now the ball is in play once it is played, rather than having to leave a certain area.”

In terms of the use of VAR ahead of the new season, the technology will be used during the Semi-Finals and Final of the Carabao Cup, but not in League competitions, including the Play-Offs.

Regulation: clarification

Click here to view the outline summary of all the Law changes for the 2019/20 season.

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