The 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship for the Coca-Cola Cup will be the first tournament to apply the revised Laws of the Game, as valid from 1 July this year.

All new Laws come into effect on 1 July every year. However, when a tournament begins before that date and continues beyond it, as the tournament in Malaysia from 16 June to 5 July, the new Laws may be applied from the start of the event.

The major changes in the Laws, as decided by the International Football Association Board at its meeting in Belfast on 1 March this year, include the following :

  • An indirect free-kick is to be awarded if a goalkeeper handles the ball after receiving it direct from a throw-in by a team-mate
  • The goalkeeper may move on his goal-line, but not forwards, before the ball is kicked at a penalty-kick
  • The ball is in play as soon as it moves from a kick-off or free-kick
  • A goal may be scored direct from the kick-off or from a goal-kick
  • If a goalkeeper holds the ball longer than 5-6 seconds, the referee must award an indirect free-kick for time-wasting
  • Referees must strictly apply the four-step rule for goalkeepers, as under Law 12.

In addition to these changes, the entire text of the Laws of the Game has been completely revised – the first revision of the laws for 60 years.

The June 1997 edition of the FIFA Magazine includes extensive background to the new Laws, explaining how they have been simplified and condensed to about 70% of their original length.