At its Annual Business Meeting (ABM) held in London today, which was chaired by Ian Maxwell, Chief Executive of the Scottish Football Association, The IFAB focused on measures to improve participant behaviour in football and increase respect for match officials.
Following the recommendations made in October by The IFAB's Football and Technical Advisory Panels, the ABM supported a proposed trial whereby only the team captain may approach the referee in certain major game situations. In addition, it was agreed that temporary dismissals (sin bins) for dissent and specific tactical offences should be trialled at higher levels, following their successful implementation in grassroots football. Protocols and a system for trialling will now be developed.
The stricter application of the Laws of the Game against players and coaches who demonstrate disrespectful conduct and the better management of mass confrontations were also amongst the measures discussed, with further trials to be developed.
The members were also updated on the successful trial involving match officials wearing body cameras at grassroots level, which had been introduced to deter instances of serious misconduct towards match officials.
The members agreed on the need to continue to develop semi-automated offside technology to assist on-field match officials to speed up decision making in relation to offside situations.
It was also agreed that, after the successful VAR decision communication trial conducted by FIFA, in which the referee announces the final decision after a VAR review, the AGM should consider including this effective measure in the Laws of the Game.
Reducing time lost and disruption to game tempo
The ABM discussed potential strategies to address the time lost in matches and tactics aimed at disrupting the game’s tempo, including in relation to the six-second restriction for goalkeepers, delaying restarts and managing injuries.
Clarifications for 2024/25 Laws
The ABM also considered potential clarifications for the Laws of the Game 2024/25, including a possible amendment to Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct), according to which handball offences for which penalties are awarded would be sanctioned in the same way as fouls.
The members were updated on the ongoing FIFA-led review of the video assistant referee (VAR) protocol, as announced at The IFAB Annual General Meeting (AGM) in March 2023, which aims to identify whether any formal recommendations are required for amendments or trials. The process will involve discussions with major football competitions that have extensive experience of using the VAR system. All members agreed that any measures should not result in any additional delays.
IFAB communication efforts
With regard to The IFAB’s education strategy, the members were informed about further developments to footballrules.com, the simplified version of the Laws of the Game aimed at making the rules of football more accessible and easier to understand, and about the Laws now being available in audio format.
The ABM shapes the agenda for The IFAB’s AGM, to be held in Glasgow on 2 March 2024, where any proposed changes to the Laws are considered for approval. Any changes approved at the AGM will be incorporated into the Laws of the Game as of 1 July 2024.