The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) has taken a major step forward towards experimentation with video assistance for match officials.

During its Annual Business Meeting (ABM) held at the Royal Garden Hotel in London on Thursday 7 January, the Board of Directors gave a strong recommendation for experiments to be given the green light at the 130th Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held in Cardiff from 4 to 6 March.

The protocols for such experiments were analysed today and are set to be finalised before the AGM, which would pave the way for live trials to begin as soon as the framework and timelines have been confirmed. A number of football associations and competition organisers have already expressed an interest in running trials.

Critical to the development of the protocols was the feedback of the Football Advisory Panel and the Technical Advisory Panel, which were set up in 2014 to support The IFAB with greater expertise before decisions are taken in order to improve the way in which the global football community helps to shape the Laws of the Game.

The members also received an update on the ongoing process to introduce a Quality Programme for electronic performance and tracking systems. The consultation process with key stakeholders such as leagues, clubs, national teams, FIFPro as well as industry representatives is continuing, with the first draft of a global standard set to be presented to The IFAB later this year. This will include minimum safety requirements for players, provisions around data protection, as well as a high quality standard for professional football focusing on performance requirements of the systems.

In another important development, The IFAB ABM approved a comprehensive revision of the Laws of the Game to make them more “user-friendly”. By halving the word count, the new format improves the structure, layout, terminology, phrasing and consistency in order to increase the universality and understanding of the Laws. The 2016/2017 edition of the Laws is set to include the changes, subject to ratification at the AGM in March. It represents the most comprehensive revision of the Laws ever undertaken in The IFAB’s history.

Other topics discussed today included “triple punishment”, the use of “sin bins” and “Law 3 – The Number of Players”, which are all set to be discussed further at the AGM. 

Chairing today’s meeting was Jonathan Ford, Chief Executive of the Football Association of Wales, with attendees including the Acting FIFA Secretary General, the Chief Executives of the other British Associations, The IFAB Secretary, as well as technical and refereeing experts.