Referees are to take stronger action against the tackle from behind.

The International Football Association Board, holding its 112th meeting in Paris, decided upon the following addition to Law XII :

A tackle from behind which endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.

Acts of serious foul play are punishable by a red card.

The new ruling, which is designed to further eliminate brutality from the game, will enter into force for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and worldwide from 1 July this year. It follows the advice from the FIFA Technical and Sports Medical Committees and the large number of injuries sustained by players being illegally tackled from behind.

The IFAB also agreed that The Football Association should start a study into the possibilities of some form of technology – without defining what kind – to ascertain whether the whole of the ball has crossed the goal-line between the posts. This is, however, only a study, and is intended primarily as an assistance to the referee and not with the intent to replace him by a machine of any form.

The F.A. will also be permitted to conduct experiments, in Jersey, which would allow the referee to advance a free-kick by 9.15m. (10 yards) in the event that the defensive wall refuses to respect this distance. If this resulted in a direct free-kick being advanced into the penalty area, the kick would still be carried out as a direct free-kick and not as a penalty-kick. The Board stressed that here, too, the aim was to help the referee to maintain control of the game.

The International Board is composed of the four British national associations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) and by four representatives of FIFA.