IFAB’s 133rd Annual Business Meeting recommends fine-tuning Laws for the benefit of the game

Today, the 133rd Annual Business Meeting (ABM) of The IFAB (International Football Association Board) took place in Glasgow, Scotland, chaired by Ian Maxwell, Chief Executive of the Scottish FA. The event saw positive feedback received on the changes to the Laws of the Game for 2018/19 and an agreement to recommend additional changes to the Laws of the Game 2019/20 at the AGM in March 2019, including a change to the dropped ball procedure and goalkeepers only being required to have one foot on the goalline when a penalty kick is taken.

The ABM is designed to evaluate proposals related to potential changes of the Laws of the Game and to make recommendations for The IFAB’s consideration at its next Annual General Meeting (AGM). Some of today’s discussions focused on the positive feedback received by The IFAB Advisory Panels that met earlier this month to discuss ongoing experiments in the following areas:

  • substitutes having to leave the field of play at the nearest boundary line
  • yellow and red cards for misconduct by team officials
  • the ball not having to leave the penalty area at goal kicks
  • defending team free-kicks taken inside the penalty area

The members at the ABM unanimously recommended that all these changes should be supported by the AGM in March for inclusion in the Laws of the Game 2019/20.

Additionally, based on experiences from competition trials, the alternative order of kicks during Kicks from the Penalty Mark (so-called ‘AB-BA’), the Board noted the absence of strong support, mainly because the procedure is complex, and agreed that it will no longer be a future option for competitions.

One of the most debated areas of the Laws of the Game is handball and this topic was discussed at length during the ABM, with an agreement being reached on the necessity for a more precise and detailed wording for the different types of handball offences. The ABM duly took note of football stakeholders’ expectations, so the most significant clarifications relate to ‘non-deliberate’ handball situations, where there is an unfair ‘outcome/benefit’ due to the ball making contact with a player’s hand/arm (e.g. a goal should not be allowed if the ball goes directly into the goal from a player’s hand/arm or if a player gains control/possession of the ball from contact with hand/arm and then scores or creates a goalscoring opportunity).

Discussions also focused on the next steps to be taken regarding the play fair! Initiative, including measures to address attacking players who cause disruption in the defensive ‘wall’, as well as a dropped ball being given if the ball hits the referee and a goal is scored, team possession changes or an attacking move is created.

The meeting concluded with an update on the current worldwide use of Video Assistant Referees (VARs), where FIFA’s Football Technology Innovation Department and FIFA Refereeing outlined the successful use of VARs at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Members were also informed about the mandatory FIFA/IFAB VAR implementation Assistance and Approval Programme (IAAP), that all competitions wishing to use VARs must complete in order to receive the necessary approval to use the system in competitive matches.

The 133rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) of The IFAB will be held in Scotland on 2 March 2019 and will ultimately decide which of today’s proposals and recommendations become part of the Laws of the Game, as and from 1 June 2019.

Regular updates on the Laws of the Game and all other work of The IFAB can be found at www.theifab.com.

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