The International Football Association Board (IFAB) convened for its Annual Business Meeting (ABM) at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland on Thursday 24 October 2013. The meeting was officially opened by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and was attended by the FIFA Secretary General and the chief executives of the four British associations.
On the subject of goal-line technology, the IFAB approved changes to the new 2014 Testing Manual, including a higher standard of a +/-1.5cm margin of error for the accuracy of GLT systems. Previously, in the 2012 Testing Manual, the maximum margin of error for the systems was +/-3cm.
The changes were based primarily on FIFA’s experience of using GLT at the FIFA Club World Cup 2012 and FIFA Confederations Cup 2013, as well as the feedback provided to the board by the Premier League who have been using GLT since the beginning of the current season, and provide further evidence of how technology is constantly improving. The new manual will come into force in April 2014 with a transition period of six months in which new installations can be tested according to the 2012 or 2014 Testing Manual. As of October 2014, all new goal-line technology installations will have to meet the higher standard of the 2014 Testing Manual.
Another key item on the agenda was the IFAB reform process, which has included a detailed review as part of FIFA’s governance reform proposals at the FIFA Congress 2011. Discussions also centred on the composition of two new advisory panels that were approved at the 127th Annual General Meeting on 2 March 2013 – a Technical Panel and a Football Panel that will include different stakeholder groups from across the world of football.
Whilst the IFAB composition will remain unchanged – including the four British associations and FIFA – the new advisory panels aim to improve the consultative process and foster a more proactive approach with a wider group of representatives able to bring new ideas to the table.
The IFAB also discussed the progress towards becoming a registered association under the Swiss Civil Code, including revisions to the IFAB Statutes. A foundation meeting was set for 13 January 2014 where the new statutes will be approved and the registration process required by Swiss Law completed. This will help to facilitate the development of a distinct IFAB identity, with plans to also launch an external web platform detailing IFAB activities.
Brief reports were also provided on the use of electronic performance monitoring systems and a proposal to increase the flexibility of substitutions in amateur/recreational football. The wording of the existing Laws of the Game was reviewed for proposed amendment at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
It is important to note that the ABM is a working meeting during which topics are discussed and can be put forward to the AGM. However, amendments to the Laws of the Game can only be made during the AGM. The 128th IFAB AGM will take place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland from 28 February to 2 March 2014.