Last weekend, the world football’s rule-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) sitting at their annual general meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland passed a new set of rules for football.

In summary these are; Handballs in goal-scoring situations will no longer have to be deliberate to count as offenses; players from the attacking team will have to be at least one meter away from the wall when a free kick is being taken; players being substituted can leave the field of play at the nearest touchline; for goal kicks the ball does not have to leave the penalty area; no rebounds for spot kicks and the keeper is now only being required to have one foot on the line; while in situations where the ball hits the referee a “drop ball” will now be awarded.

These rules which take effect from June 01, 2019 are the latest drop of interventions from what is a very conservative rule making body which, and in case you wonder why the English like to project themselves as the ‘owners’ of football, is made up of the four British home nations – England Scotland Ireland and Wales as well as representatives from Fifa.

Judging from stated objectives, it appears the rules are meant to iron out small areas of conflict and generally increase the flow of the game. For example, a more precise definition for what constitutes handball appears to have been arrived at and determining what is intent and how that should be a factor in situations involving goals or goal-scoring opportunities is now addressed.

From June onwards, a goal scored directly from the hand, even if accidental, and a player scoring or creating a goal-scoring opportunity after having gained possession or control of the ball from their hand will no longer be allowed. Also, stopping players from the annoying habit of interfering with defensive walls at free kicks and the time-wasting tactic of walking the entire length of the pitch in slo-mo to exit at the team’s bench or the tunnel after being substituted, has been particularly thoughtful.

I must also mention that the rules body while taking care of old habits were also able to arrest the new habit growing out of the need to frustrate the high press, where defenders have been deliberately intercepting goal kicks before they exit the box, so they can be retaken and negate the threat of the player pressing. Now it doesn’t matter.
So well done to the rules body on that too.

But this is not to say all the bothersome tit bits have been accounted for.
For instance, how in heavens name did they miss the bit where a player shields the ball until it goes out of play or carriers it to the corner flag and “builds a house” around it, before launching themselves to the ground at the merest hint of contact? There should be rule that disqualifies all that from being applied by a team that’s winding down the clock for whatever reason. It is as annoying as badge-kissing.

THE NEW IFAB RULES
1. Accidental handball goal won’t stand.
2. Substituted players can leave the field anywhere.
3. No attacking players in the wall.
4. Coaches will receive cards.
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