Less than 100 days before the kick-off of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ in Germany, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) today sent out a clear message to the football world by approving a series of modifications to the Laws of the Game and endorsing instructions to referees and assistant referees to clamp down on time-wasting and reckless play as well as simulation and gamesmanship in general. The modifications will come into force on 1 July 2006. However, with the FIFA World Cup™ beginning on 9 June and lasting until 9 July, the IFAB decided that the modifications and instructions would also apply for FIFA's flagship competition.
Meeting at the Palace Hotel in Lucerne (Switzerland), football's lawmakers also gave the go-ahead for further tests with goal-line technology while clearly stating that technological assistance would be allowed only for determining whether or not a goal has been scored and provided that it gives an immediate indication. In accordance with its principles, the Board therefore gave the green light for the continuation of the experiment launched by adidas and cairos using chip-in-the-ball technology. The Board also approved an experiment presented by the Italian football association using a digital-camera system and UEFA's proposed trial of a referee communication system. Conversely, a request submitted by the French football association for tests with a video assistance system for referees was rejected because the proposed system and its scope went beyond the remit established by the Board and it would lead to delays in the decisions of the referee.
Looking ahead to the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, the Board supported FIFA's request that special instructions be issued to the match officials who will be in action in Germany. As a result, they will be asked to severely sanction all cases of elbowing, reckless tackling and serious foul play with red cards, while shirt-pulling and holding an opponent will incur a yellow card. Furthermore, referees will also be told to caution any player who provokes a confrontation with an opponent by deliberately interfering with the ball after the referee has stopped play. These directives will be explained at the upcoming 2006 FIFA World Cup™ finalist teams' workshop in Düsseldorf (Germany) on 5-7 March.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter praised the visionary spirit of the founders of the Board and expressed his pleasure at the International F.A. Board's readiness to use the FIFA World Cup™ to pass on a clear message in terms of player protection. "The FIFA World Cup is the perfect platform to send out this message to the whole world of football as people all around the globe will follow the 64 matches in Germany. The stars of the tournament will serve as role models for hundreds of millions of other players around the world. So it is all the more important that Germany 2006 sets a positive example."
The IFAB also agreed to clarify the Laws in various respects. Law 4 (The Players' Equipment) now states that the basic compulsory equipment of a player (jersey or shirt, shorts, stockings, shinguards and footwear) must be composed of separate items and Law 12 explicitly indicates that substitutes and substituted players are equally liable to be cautioned or sent off if they commit any of the offences described in the Laws of the Game as those on the pitch.
The International F.A. Board, the custodian of the Laws of the Game, is composed of The Football Association (England), The Scottish Football Association, The Football Association of Wales, The Irish Football Association (Northern Ireland) and FIFA. Representing its 203 other members, FIFA has four votes on the body, while the four British associations have one vote apiece. A proposal requires a three-quarter majority (i.e. six of the eight votes) to be passed.
The 121st Annual General Meeting of the IFAB will be held in Manchester (England) on 4 March 2007.