Football fans and players need to get used to some new rules ahead of Euro 2016 this weekend and the forthcoming football season.
After an 18-month review, the International Football Association Board’s review has come up with several tweaks to the game to try to make things a little fairer and cut out some of the cheating that goes on.
Red cards can now be issued for any incidents before a match, though the offending side will be able to substitute that player and will always be able to start with 11 men.
The new rules states that a player may be ‘sent off’ any time after the referee enters the field of play for the pre-match inspection.
To try to stop players encroaching into the other half at kick-offs, the ball no longer has to go forward.
There is an end to the ‘triple punishment’ faced by players who prevent obvious goal-scoring opportunities in the opposition penalty area, which usually results in a red card, the concession of a penalty, and a subsequent suspension.
Now the red card will be downgraded to a yellow if the foul was a genuine attempt to play the ball, though ‘professional fouls’ - handball, grappling, and violent conduct remain red card offences.
In addition, a player can now also be charged with violent conduct if no contact is made with an opponent.
Goalkeepers will be delighted to see that a stop and feint to kick at the end of a penalty run-up will now earn the spot-kick taker a yellow card and an indirect free kick - no retake. However, stuttering runs will still be allowed.
Lawmakers hope that this will eliminate keepers’ early dives off the line, which will also earn a yellow.
Also on penalties, the kick is not over until the ball stops moving. In the Moroccan Cup final a goalkeeper saved a penalty and ran off to celebrate but the ball spun back into his net and that will now be a goal.
There is also a clampdown on dubious throw-ins, The ball must be thrown with both hands and not thrown with one hand and ‘guided’ with the other.
A big boost is that players can now receive medical treatment without leaving the pitch if the foul committed on them earns a card, ending the situation of teams that have been sinned against being left disadvantaged when the game restarts as well.
Also, injured players can now get treatment on the pitch for up to 20 seconds and stay on rather than having to go to the touchline and await the referee’s nod to come back on.
Any player accidentally losing a boot will be allowed to continue playing until play next stops.
Free kicks for offside are to be taken from where the offence takes place rather than from where the player was flagged for offside.
Interference from personnel not involved in the match (ie substitutes or staff) is now punishable by a direct free kick rather than an indirect one.
Players no longer need to wait for a break in play to return to the pitch after changing their equipment
Players’ under-shorts must be same colour as their shorts or the hem.
Water breaks are now permissible in very hot/humid conditions’.
Finally, to be considered after the Euros is the introduction of ‘penalty goals’ to stop players from intentionally breaking rules to cynically benefit their teams like handling on the line.