Soccer may be a fundamentally simple game, but its rules — sorry, its Laws — can get a little complicated, and are by no means fixed and unchanging.
The maintenance and amendment of said Laws is the responsibility of IFAB, the International Football Association Board, which thanks to the enduring power of anachronism is made up half by representatives of FIFA, and half by representatives from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Hooray for history!
Anyway, IFA have today made two announcements. The first is that they are meeting today with leagues and associations who are interested in utilising video replays, ahead of a period of experimentation that will hopefully determine whether such newfangled moving picture technology has any place in modern officiating. Brace yourself for some strong opinions on that one.
The second announcement is more immediate. As of next season, the Laws of the game are changing in a number of small, but perhaps significant ways. Given that you, a discerning soccer aficionado, will want to know precisely why this referee is a joke, a clown and an imbecile, we've summarised the most important changes for you below. You're welcome.
Substitutes may now take a restart but must first step onto the field
Common sense, really. Imagine if substitutes were allowed to take restarts without being on the field? Using a long pole, or something? Chaos.
Law 5 now allows the referee to send a player off before the kick-off
Sadly, the team in question can replace the player, so they won't have to start with 10 players. If the team's been named, then the replacement must be one of the named substitutes; if not, then it can be anybody who happens to be knocking around.
If something/someone (other than a player) touches a ball going into the goal, the referee can award the goal if the ball goes in the goal and the touch had no impact on the defenders (unless in opponents' goal)
Electronic communication with substitutes is forbidden
"Bench One! Come in Bench One! This is Full Back. Are you receiving me?"
Ball can be kicked in any direction at kickoff
The dream of the immediate 50-yard backpass is alive! Though since players have to be in their own half when the whistle blows, they'll have to run round the ball first.
[With reference to a penalty shootout] Kicks are not delayed if a player leaves the field; if the player is not back in time their kick is forfeited (missed)
What a way to lose a game this would be. "Sorry lads, couldn't wait. Is it my go yet ... what? Why are you all staring at me?"
If a goal is scored, an attacking player in the goal can be penalised for an offside offence
Though only, presumably, if they're interfering with play. If they're just having a sit down and minding their own business then they've nothing to worry about. Bonus points will be awarded if the ball actually hits them.
If the referee plays advantage for a [red card] offence and the offending player then gets involved in play it is an [indirect freekick]
This one's quite interesting from a philosophical perspective. Essentially the player who commits the red card offence is considered to have been dismissed from that moment on, even though play continues and the red card has not yet been issued. They are there, in their uniform and on the pitch, but they are no longer a part of the game. Hopefully we'll end up with some really long advantages where the player in question realises the situation and has to shuffle about awkwardly, making sure they don't accidentally get involved in play. There's probably a Marouane Fellaini joke in here somewhere, but let's be kind.
Some [denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity] offences in the penalty area are not punished with a [red card]
This is the headline, and has been brought in to address the so-called "triple punishment," in which a team gives up a player advantage, a suspension and a penalty in exchange for one ordinary foul that just happened to prevent a goal. That said, this dispensation doesn't cover "handball, holding, pulling, pushing" or fouls that involve "not attempting or no possibility to play the ball." Rejoice, oh makers of mistimed tackles! This is your time!
[Indirect freekick] if [penalty kick] kicked backwards
Don't kick your penalties backwards, kids. It's not big, it's not clever and you're impressing nobody.
If a corner kick is kicked into the kicker's own goal it is a corner kick to opponents
Right, has this ever happened? Ever? And if so, are we seriously suggesting that a corner taker who is capable of kicking a corner into their own net shouldn't be allowed to claim whatever they damn well please? Are you going to argue with that person?
The full changes are here.
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