IFAB approves handball, substitution rule changes from 2019-20 season

ABERDEEN: The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the Zurich-based organisation responsible for the formation and implementation of the laws of the game globally, held its 133rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the Scottish city of Aberdeen recently.

The meeting was attended by representatives from FIFA and the football associations of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Amongst several rule changes announced starting from the next season, the Maradona-style ‘Hand of God’ will no longer be considered as a goal. On the instance of handball, i.e. a ball touching a player’s hand accidentally and crossing the goal line after creating an opportunity, will not stand to be counted.

With respect to substitutions, the player will not leave the field by go through the centre circle but the nearest touch line in order to avoid wasting time and quickening the speed of play. Team officials such as managers and other coaching staff also need to be more careful as they could be charged just like players with yellow or red cards by referees on any instances of misconduct with them.

Additional law changes included the likes of the ball not having to leave the penalty area at goal kicks, defending team free kicks in the penalty area and changing the dropped ball procedure by giving a dropped ball in certain situations when the ball hits the referee and the goalkeeper only being required to have one foot on the line at a penalty kick.

When it comes to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology, which has been used since 2018 in the FIFA World Cup and leagues around the world, the FIFA and IFAB have agreed to work together on bettering its global implementation following its success so far.

Plans were announced for a comprehensive digitalisation programme to support FIFA and IFAB in the process of education of refereeing and the laws of the Game as well as throughout the football community. As part of the IFAB’s ‘Play fair!’ initiative, the AGM also agreed to continue to explore ways in which the laws can be used to improve on-field behaviour.