IFAB rules on time-wasting subs, handballs and penalty shoot-outs

November 23 – In a move designed to stop cynical time-wasting, players will leave the pitch at the nearest goalline or touchline when substituted rather than walk, sometimes at a snail’s pace, to the technical area under new proposals recommended by football’s lawmakers.

Other recommendations recommended at IFAB’s annual business meeting in Glasgow on Thursday included abolishing the ‘ABBA’ format for penalty shootouts and introducing yellow and red cards for team officials.

The wording around handball situations will also be altered after it was agreed that the rules have to be clearer in defining what constitutes accidental handball.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) said the handball topic was “debated at length” with a “more precise and detailed wording for the different types of handball offences” needed, with an emphasis on “non-deliberate” handballs.

At the World Cup in June, Portugal were almost knocked out in the round of 16 when Iran were awarded a stoppage-time penalty for a controversial handball awarded against defender Cedric Soares. Iran scored, then missed a chance to win the game.

IFAB will vote on the proposals at its annual general meeting on March 2 when any law changes can be approved.

IFAB is also ending trials of the so-called ABBA order of teams taking penalties in a shootout.

ABBA, which has been trialled at some competitions, is designed to prevent the team going second from being put at the psychological disadvantage of always having to play catch-up. Under the system, team A take the first penalty, team B the second and third, team A the fourth and fifth and so on until each has taken five. The sequence continues if the shootout then goes to sudden death.

“The board noted the absence of strong support, mainly because the procedure is complex, and agreed that it will no longer be a future option for competitions,” the panel said.

The panel also wants to give goalkeepers more freedom to move when facing a penalty. Currently, the Laws of the Game state goalkeepers “must remain on the goal line … until the ball has been kicked.” But IFAB has proposed that goalkeepers should need “only one foot on the goal line when a penalty is taken.” This would allow them to begin moving forward earlier without risking referees ordering the kick to be retaken.

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