Recently, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) announced the introduction of new rules that came into play on June 1, 2016. That means, when the Premier League kicks off tomorrow, there will be a couple of changes to how the refs rule the game.
More than 95 changes were made, some more important than others (at least from a fan’s perspective). Below, I have outlined some of the rules that I think will be the most significant while sharing some thoughts about each one of them.
As seen at Euro 2016, 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”. This change has paved the way for one-man kick-offs, as seen at Euro 2016.
I never really saw the point of the old rule – having two players at kick-off, one to kick it forward and the other to then pass it back, seemed a bit unnecessary – this probably won’t impact the game too much, but it is interesting to note.
Pre-Match Red Cards
Referees will be able to give a player a red card before the match kicks off. 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 anytime between the pre-match inspection and when the referee leaves the field at the end of the game.
I believe this is a good thing, seeing that it would help to sort out any issues in the build-up to the match. Having said that, if you manage to get yourself sent off BEFORE kick-off, you could probably look forward to life on the bench, from the coach’s point of view.
An end to the ‘Triple Punishment’ law
The previous ‘triple-punishment’ law meant a player who denied a goal-scoring opportunity in the box was automatically red-carded and handed a suspension, as well as giving away a penalty.
The law has now been changed so players committing accidental fouls that deny goal-scoring opportunities in the penalty area will not be automatically sent off, with a yellow card sufficient punishment.
As the amendment states: “When a denial of a goalscoring opportunity offence is committed by a defender in the penalty area, the penalty kick effectively restores the goalscoring opportunity so the punishment for the player should be less strong (e.g. a yellow card) than when the offence is committed outside the penalty area. However, when the offence is handball or clearly not a genuine attempt to play or challenge for the ball, the player will be sent off.”
I do get the logic behind this, but I don’t fully agree with how they changed it. I would rather have a player receive a penalty, and get a red card while taking away the suspension that would be served.
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.
It was widely seen as unfair that a player injured by a serious foul was forced off the pitch for treatment, temporarily placing the fouled team at a numerical disadvantage.
Another good change – having to wait for play to stop before a player can return to the field is unfair and it really does not make much sense.
In an effort to stop referees brandishing yellow cards for every handball, “preventing an opponent gaining possession” has been removed from the list of bookable offences.
Handball is now a yellow card offence when “it stops/interferes with a promising attack“.
Basically just a wording change here, but a good one. The refs will probably still get it wrong though, but at least we should be seeing less yellow cards for a handball that really has no impact on the play.
Referees have been urged to take a stronger stand on “intolerable behaviour” by players following a joint statement by the Premier League, English Football League and FA.
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.
The aim is to “reduce disrespectful conduct such as aggressively challenging decisions or running from distance to confront an official.”
Gone are the days of players shouting and swearing at refs – being carded for such behaviour is absolutely the right thing. I expect a couple of player getting caught out with this, after being used to abusing refs their entire lives.
All in all, most of the rule changes are for the greater good of the game.
Your thoughts on the changes? Let us know in the comments below.
Written for The Pundits by @thatWallace