The International Football Association Board (IFAB) as the guardian of the Laws of the Game has approved the most comprehensive revision in the IFAB´s 130 year history. The changes are effective as from 1 June 2016 and therefore will already apply to the upcoming UEFA EURO 2016 in France.
In addition to several changes with regard to restructuring, consistency and wording the IFAB also decided on material changes which will have huge impact to the game. The most relevant change will properly be that if a player commits a denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity inside the penalty area it will now be punished only with a yellow card if the foul was an attempt to play the ball. A red card will only still be given for offences like a deliberate handball, for holding, pushing and pulling, and serious foul challenges or violent conduct. Therefore, the often criticized threefold punishment will be canceled in situations where the player is clearly trying to play the ball and therefore committing a foul in a football-typical challenge.
There are several further changes. For example, it was clarified that not all handballs will result in a yellow card but only in cases where the handling interferes with a promising attack or where it was used to attempt to score a goal. If a substitute, a team official or a player who was sent off enters the field and interferes with play it will now be punished with a direct free kick or even a penalty. Small changes are also relevant for the offside rule, eg that teams players’ arms are not considered when judging offside and players going off the field will be considered to be on the goal line until play stops or the ball was played by a defender towards the halfway line out of the penalty area. Furthermore, if a player is injured by a foul which results in a red or yellow card the injured player can have quick treatment on the field and will not have to go off.
All in all, the revision will ensure that the Laws are appropriate for football in the 21st Century and promote “fair play”. Teams, coaches, media and fans will have to get familiar with the new Laws as they have the potential influencing match and tactics of professional and amateur football likewise. The electronic version of the Laws and a summary of changes can be downloaded at www.theifab.com.