The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has published changes to the laws of the game for the 2016/17 season, the most notable altering sending-off and cautionable offences inside the penalty area.
The previous ‘triple-punishment’ rule meant that a player who denied a goal-scoring opportunity was automatically red-carded and handed a suspension, as well as giving away a penalty.
However, the law has now changed so that players committing accidental fouls, that deny a goal-scoring opportunity, are not automatically sent-off, but cautioned instead.
Players will still be sent off for holding, pulling or pushing, not playing the ball or having no possibility to play the ball, serious foul play, violent conduct or deliberate handball.
Referees’ powers have also been extended so that they can send-off a player before kick-off, from the official’s pre-match pitch inspection onwards.
Announced on Thursday, the new laws also state the ball will also be able to move in any direction from kick-off, rather than only move forward.
Players who are injured by a challenge punishable by a yellow or red card can now have quick treatment on the field, rather than having to leave, which previously gave the offending team temporary numerical advantage.
IFAB announced last month their intentions to change the laws following a comprehensive, 18-month review, led by former English Premier League referee David Elleray.
The IFAB unanimously approved the revision, which they identified as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to address anomalies and inconsistences in the laws.
The IFAB, the game’s law-making body, also approved a two-year trial period of video technology to assist referees, to be used in four cases: to determine if a goal has been scored, red cards, penalties and mistaken identity.