IFAB vote on key changes to ‘The Players’ Equipment’
© Foto-net

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) convened at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on Saturday for its Annual General Meeting (AGM), chaired by FIFA President Blatter.

Today’s meeting was the 128th AGM since The IFAB was formed in 1886 and the first since the historic foundation meeting on 13 January 2014, which marked a new era for football’s rule-making body in becoming an independent association under the Swiss Civil Code.

FIFA President Blatter opened the meeting by highlighting the importance of the new structure, which includes two new advisory panels – a Technical Panel and a Football Panel – ensuring a more proactive approach and broader consultation by including different stakeholders from across the world of football to support The IFAB before decisions are passed.

The composition of the advisory panels was discussed at today’s AGM. A draft list will be finalised by The IFAB in the coming weeks and the two panels confirmed in due course once the invitations have been sent out and all members have accepted.

In relation to the Laws of the Game, The IFAB approved the modification to the interpretation of ‘Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment’ specifying the provisions by which male and female players can now wear head covers. After a two-year pilot, The IFAB agreed that there was no indication as to why the wearing of head covers should be prohibited, as long as their design restrictions are respected in line with the new wording of Law 4, agreed on at today’s AGM.

Law 4 was also modified today to clarify that both compulsory equipment and undergarments must not have any kind of slogans, statements or images. Previously, what a player could reveal on any item of basic compulsory equipment was different to what he or she could wear on an undergarment. The IFAB therefore approved the clarification in order to have a consistent approach that is also easier to regulate.

On the agenda point relating to rolling subs for amateur/recreational football, which was submitted by The Football Association (FA) and The Scottish Football Association (SFA), The IFAB decided that the pilots initiated by The FA and the SFA shall continue and that the results will be submitted to the two new advisory panels for further discussion.

The matter of electronic performance and tracking systems, which relates to players wearing chips or other small devices that can monitor player performance, will be referred to the advisory panels. The first report that the panels will receive will be from next week’s Algarve Cup in Portugal, where The IFAB has initiated and permitted a trial of some of these systems for the senior women’s teams involved.

For the submission from UEFA relating to the use of ‘Sin Bins’ in recreational youth football, The IFAB agreed that the experiments may continue, under the control of The IFAB, and that the advisory panels should further deliberate on the matter.

UEFA also submitted a proposal to remove the red card given for any offence denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity inside the penalty area. The IFAB acknowledged that the so-called ‘triple punishment’ has been heavily debated including concerns that, if red cards were to be removed, it would lead to cynical fouls – as was the case under the previous wording of ‘Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct’ in relation to sending off offences. It was decided that the advisory panels should consider the matter to analyse how Law 12 might be further clarified.

The IFAB will also instruct the two advisory panels to discuss Law 12 with respect to handling the ball, after an initial proposal from the Football Association of Wales (FAW), to advise if any modification should be made.

After a discussion on the potential use of video replays for match officials, The IFAB remains of the view that technology should be allowed only for goal-line incidents, since it is a clear yes or no decision. Concerns were raised about video replays slowing the game down or increasing the number of stoppages.

A proposal from the Technical Sub-Committee was approved whereby The IFAB will appoint a group to revise the structure and format of the Laws of the Game including changes such as the addition of a glossary. This glossary will help to clarify wording in the Laws. For instance, since 'Law 8 - The Start and Restart of Play: Dropped Ball' was changed at the 126th IFAB AGM in March 2012, there has still been some discussion on the interpretation of the word ‘direct.’ At today’s AGM, The IFAB noted that a new glossary will help to better define the wording in this case and others.

The modifications to the Laws of the Game made at today’s AGM will come into effect on 1 June 2014, taking into account the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.

The 129th Annual General Meeting will take place in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 27 February - 1 March 2015.