Exploring Change: IFAB’s New Rule Trials in Football


Discussions surrounding the upcoming alterations in football regulations have been ongoing for several months, and now, a specific date has been set. On March 2nd, the IFAB assembly will convene to determine the commencement of the testing phase.

Comprising representatives from Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) along with four FIFA delegates, this governing body oversees the rules of the game.

One significant amendment on the horizon involves the automatic issuance of a red card for handball offenses within the penalty area. Intentional handball infractions in the defensive phase will result in player expulsion.

Furthermore, referees will gain the authority to halt matches in response to various on-field incidents. In cases of player conflicts, gameplay may be temporarily suspended for an unspecified duration, allowing players to cool down.

Additionally, temporary exclusions for tactical fouls are set to be introduced. Should a defending player impede a counterattack by committing a deliberate foul, thus disrupting the flow of play, the referee may send them to the sideline for a 10-minute period, akin to the ‘sin-bin’ rule observed in rugby.


In a bid to maintain the integrity of the game, football authorities are introducing a nuanced approach to disciplinary actions. Gone are the days when a goalkeeper could simply receive a cautionary yellow card for time-wasting. Now, referees are empowered to not only issue warnings but also award the opposing team with a corner kick as penalty for excessive delays.

Embracing a practice already familiar in rugby, another notable change is on the horizon. Player discussions with referees will no longer involve every member of the team; instead, this privilege will be reserved solely for team captains. Additionally, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) is contemplating expanding the scope of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system to include second yellow card offenses and decisions pertaining to stoppage time, free kicks, and corners.

While FIFA’s head referee, Pierluigi Collina, stresses the need for thorough deliberation, emphasizing that such adjustments will only be implemented if they do not unduly prolong matches. This cautious approach underscores the commitment to balance innovation with practicality, ensuring that the spirit of the game remains intact.

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