The world football governing body FIFA through its International Football Association Board (IFAB) has introduced a new set of rules that will be observed in the game starting the 2016/17 season.
The set of more than 95 new rules involve a number tried out during the 2016 Euro tournament in France. Here are a few key of them;
The ball no longer has to go forward at kick-off. The previous law stated the ball had to go into the opposition half at the restart, but it has been changed to allow it to move in any direction, as long as it “clearly moves”.
Referees will be allowed to give a player a red card before the match kicks off and at the end of the game. This allows officials to punish red-card offences (e.g. violent conduct) in the warm-up or as the two teams line up in the tunnel. The new law states a player may be sent off any time between the pre-match inspection and when the referee leaves the field at the end of the game.
Players committing accidental fouls that deny goal-scoring opportunities in the penalty area will not be automatically sent off, with a yellow card considered sufficient punishment.
If a player is fouled and hurt by an opponent who subsequently receives a yellow or red card for the challenge, the injured player may be quickly treated on the pitch without the need to leave the field of play.
This is to protect the injured player’s team from the numerical disadvantage.
A player who briefly leaves the field (e.g. to change boots) may have his new boots checked by an assistant referee or fourth official before returning to play.
Previously, the player only required the referee’s permission to return.
Another amendment allows the referee to yellow card a penalty taker who “illegally feints” once his run-up is complete. This means slowing to a stop immediately before shooting is not allowed, with a yellow card and an indirect free-kick to the opposition the result.
The law however, does stress that feinting during a run-up is still permitted.
If play is stopped due to interference from a team official or substitute, rather than the award of an indirect free-kick or drop ball, the referee will now award a free-kick or penalty kick to the opposition.
Undershorts/tights must be the same colour as the main colour of the shorts or the lowest part of the shorts. Undershirts must still be the same colour as the main colour of the shirt sleeve.
Handball has been removed from the list of bookable offences. A handball is now a yellow card offence when “it stops/interferes with a promising attack”.
The phrase “clearly moves” has been added to the law on restarts, meaning attempts to trick the opposition by lightly tapping the ball at a corner (or free-kick) and then dribbling will come to an end.
Referees will take a stronger stand on “intolerable behaviour” by players. Running to contest decisions, arguing face-to-face with officials, and “visibly disrespectful” actions will result in yellow cards.
Red cards will be issued to players who confront officials and use insulting and/or offensive language or gestures towards them.