The International Football Association Board (IFAB) in a strategy document which has been made public suggest radical reforms to the beautiful game of football to tackle “on-field issues” and form part of what it calls its “Play Fair strategy”.
The ideas have three main aims, improving player behaviour and increasing respect; increasing playing time; and increasing fairness and attractiveness.
The new document highlights the issue of a 90-minute match having less than 60 minutes of playing time because of stoppages and time-wasting.
Which plans need no law changes?
– The document has put forward a number of radical ideas for discussion, but suggests some proposals can be implemented immediately without the need for law changes.
– Most of these apply to trying to combat time-wasting. The document says match officials should be stricter on the rule which allows keepers to hold the ball for six seconds and be more stringent when calculating additional time.
Additionally, it suggests match officials stop their watch:
– from a penalty being awarded to the spot-kick being taken
– from a goal being scored until the match resumes from the kick-off
– from asking an injured player if he requires treatment to play restarting
– from the referee showing a yellow or red card to play resuming
– from the signal of a substitution to play restarting
– from a referee starting to pace a free-kick to when it is taken
Which plans are ready for testing?
Some of the proposals are already being tested. The idea of only allowing captains to speak to referees – to prevent match officials being mobbed – is being trialled at the ongoing FIFA Confederations Cup.
Another proposal involves changing the order of kick-taking in penalty shoot-outs, known as ‘ABBA’. It is similar to a tie-break in tennis, with team A taking the first kick, then team B taking two, then team A taking two. That is a change from the traditional ‘team A, team B, team A, team B’ pattern.
New suggestions also include players who are being substituted leaving at the closest part of the touchline to them instead of at the halfway line.
Which ideas are up for discussion?
This is where it gets interesting. One of the proposals would allow being able to dribble straight from a free-kick to “encourage attacking play as the player who is fouled can stop the ball and then immediately continue their dribble/attacking move”. Other measures include:
– passing to yourself at a free-kick, corner and goal-kick
– a stadium clock which stops and starts along with the referee’s watch
– allowing the goal-kick to be taken even if the ball is moving
– a goal-kick being taken on the same side that the ball went out on
– a “clearer and more consistent definition” of handball
– a player who scores a goal or stops a goal with his hands gets a red card
– a keeper who handles a backpass or throw-in from a team-mate concedes a penalty
– the referee can award a goal if a player stops a goal being scored by handling on or close to the goal-line
– referees can only blow for half-time or full-time when the ball goes out of play
– a penalty kick is either scored or missed/saved and players cannot follow up to score to stop encroachment into the penalty area
Some very interesting ideas which the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has put forward to discussions to improve football with 60 minute net games the biggest idea of change in the strategy document.