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Advisory panels meet ahead of The IFAB Annual Business Meeting

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The potential use of video replays in football and proposals on how the Laws of the Game can be made more “user-friendly” were among the topics discussed this week by the two advisory panels set up to advise The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) on potential changes to the Laws of the Game.

The Football Advisory Panel and the Technical Advisory Panel, which were established in 2014 and bring together experts from across the world of football, met at the Sofitel Hotel in London on Wednesday and Thursday for their bi-annual meetings which were chaired by Jonathan Ford, Chief Executive of the Football Association of Wales (The FAW).

The IFAB will take on board the feedback and recommendations of the panels in November during its Annual Business Meeting – a working meeting of the board where potential changes to the Laws of the Game can then be put forward to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) for decision.

On the topic of video assistance for match officials, the panels had already seen a presentation from the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) during their respective meetings in April. This week, they received information about how other associations and leagues such as the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) and Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States are interested in running trials. The panels discussed the pros and cons of video assistance, including the potential for live testing and how trials could be conducted, i.e. what situations could be focused on when using such support. The use of video replays is currently not permitted and would need to be approved by The IFAB.

Another topic that was debated extensively was “Law 3 – The Number of Players”. A number of suggestions are currently on the table, including allowing a fourth substitute in extra time or temporary substitutes in the case of injuries that require momentary treatment.

In addition, the panels assessed the proposals by The IFAB as part of the revision of the Laws of the Game to make them more consistent, easy to understand and user-friendly. Besides the new format of the Laws of the Game whereby the “Laws” section and the “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees” section will be combined in the future, the revision process also includes simplifying and improving certain texts that could be misinterpreted. The new format is expected to be included in the 2016/2017 version of the Laws of the Game, subject to approval by The IFAB’s AGM in March.

Other items on the agenda included the interpretation of the offside law, handling the ball, the use of “sin bins” and the ongoing process to introduce a FIFA Quality Programme for electronic performance and tracking systems.

The Annual Business Meeting of The IFAB will take place in Cardiff, Wales on 25 November 2015. Feedback from the panels will be considered at this meeting and at the AGM, which is the only time that amendments to the Laws of the Game can be made. The 130th AGM is set to take place in Cardiff on 4-6 March 2016.

The IFAB consists of the four British associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) with one vote each, and FIFA, representing the other 205 national associations, with four votes. A three-quarters majority is required for a motion to be passed.

The advisory panels were set up to support The IFAB with greater expertise before decisions are passed and to improve the way in which the global football community helps to shape the Laws of the Game.

Football Advisory Panel (members present at October meeting):

Anthony Baffoe (Ghana), Gijs de Jong (Netherlands, KNVB), Shaka Hislop (Trinidad & Tobago), Christian Karembeu (New Caledonia), Ioan Lupescu (Romania), Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan), Wynton Rufer (New Zealand), Richard Jobson (England, FIFPro), Andreas Rettig (Germany)

Technical Advisory Panel (members present at October meeting)

Neale Barry (The FA), Jean-Paul Brigger (FIFA), Massimo Busacca (FIFA), William Campbell (Irish FA), Lim Kee Chong (Mauritius), Pierluigi Collina (UEFA Head of Refereeing), David Elleray (England), Ray Ellingham (FA of Wales), John Fleming (Scottish FA), Mark Hester (OFC Head of Refereeing), Yoshimi Ogawa (AFC Head of Refereeing), Manoel Serapião Filho (Brazil)

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