A number of tweaks to football’s laws have been approved by the International Football Association Board, which are set to be enforced ahead of the Euro 2016 tournament in France this summer.
Former Premier League referee David Elleray was at the centre of the biggest revamp of the sport’s regulations in 135 years, with making the rules clearer and more concise the objective.
One of the biggest alterations is allowing kick-offs to go in any direction, instead of the ball having to be touched in a forward direction.
Players can also be sent off before a game starts if there is disciplinary merit ahead of the match.
The example of a pre-match confrontation between Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane in the tunnel ahead of an Arsenal-Manchester United clash in 2005 was used as an example for amending the rules.
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If a man or men were dismissed before the first whistle, the side/s would still start the game with eleven players, but the number of substitutes would subsequently be reduced.
The final major change will see injured players being treated on the pitch if they are subject to a challenge that has been punished by a yellow or red card.
At the moment, the ailing player is taken to the sidelines to receive treatment, effectively punishing the team whom the offence was perpetrated against – the change is in the interest of fairness.
Other minor changes include allowing a fourth official, rather than just the referee, to check a player’s footwear after they change boots and club logos being permitted on corner flags.
Elleray said that the rule changes also included allowing referees to use common sense and that the decisions were made in an attempt to stamp out inconsistency.
“We are trying to help situations which tend to occur very often and are a bit crazy,” he said.
“We have tried to use much clearer language. We tried to avoid a lot of unnecessary repetition and we tried to make it up-to-date.
“Because the laws have evolved piecemeal and no one has done a comprehensive review there have been inconsistencies.”
The previous 22,000-word document stating the games rules has been dramatically reduced to 12,000 words over the last 18 months.
The new laws are expected to be ratified by the International Football Association Board at their meeting in March.
The offside law has also been improved to eliminate inconsistency, by ensuring that the free-kick given for offside offences are always where the infraction occurs. Previously the rules were ambiguous, stating in one place that the free-kick should be given on the spot the offence was committed, and in another place stating that the free-kick should be given when the player was first in the offiside position.
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