Football’s lawmakers announce changes to handball rule

Goals scored or created with the aid of a hand or arm, even if accidental, will be disallowed next season after football’s lawmakers approved several changes to the rules.

IFAB voted to 'fine-tune' rules which will take effect from next season. Pic: SNS
IFAB voted to 'fine-tune' rules which will take effect from next season. Pic: SNS

The International FA Board (IFAB) voted to “fine-tune” some laws at their annual general meeting in Aberdeen yesterday and among the changes was an attempt to end confusion over “deliberate” contact with the ball. “On the topic of defining handball, a decision was taken by the IFAB to provide a more precise and detailed definition for what constitutes handball, in particular with regard to the occasions when a non-deliberate/accidental handball will be penalised,” read an IFAB statement.

“In other changes approved by IFAB, substitutes will have to leave the pitch at the nearest goalline or touchline to stop time-wasting.

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“Following experiments in different parts of the world, the AGM also approved changes to the Laws of the Game related to a player being substituted having to leave the field of play at the nearest boundary line, yellow and red cards for misconduct by team officials and the ball not having to leave the penalty area at goal kicks and defending team free-kicks in the penalty area,” IFAB said.

“Additional approved law changes included: measures to deal with attacking players causing problems in the defensive ‘wall’, changing the dropped ball procedure, 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.”

IFAB is comprised of the four home nations, who each have one vote, and the world’s governing body FIFA, which has four votes, while rule changes need at least six votes to be approved.

IFAB also acknowledged that the introduction of video assistant referees had been a big success.

“Following the historic decision taken a year ago at the 132nd IFAB annual general meeting to approve the use of VARs, FIFA president Gianni Infantino in unity with fellow members of IFAB expressed satisfaction with the significant impact and success VAR has had.”