The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has given the green light for trials aimed at enhancing player behavior and bolstering respect for match officials. These trials, discussed during IFAB's Annual Business Meeting (ABM) in London, will explore the feasibility of allowing only the team captain to approach the referee during certain game situations.
Introduction of Sin Bins
The trials will also examine the use of 'sin bins' for dissent and specific tactical offences at higher levels of football. This follows the successful incorporation of sin bins in grassroots football from the 2019-20 season. Sin bins, first introduced to rugby union in 2001, have long been a rule in that sport, effectively curtailing issues with players surrounding referees.
Time-Wasting Tactics and Game Delays
Additionally, the ABM focused on strategies to combat time-wasting tactics. The members deliberated on the consideration of a six-second rule for goalkeepers and improved management of restarts and injuries. It was agreed that any new introductions, including the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology, should not result in extra game delays.
Referee Announcements and Body Cameras
The ABM is mulling over the inclusion of the practice of the referee announcing the final VAR decision to the public, a system already tested by FIFA. Another significant development noted was the successful trial of match officials wearing body cameras at the grassroots level. This measure aims to deter misconduct towards officials.
IFAB is developing future trials and any proposed law changes will be deliberated for approval at IFAB's annual general meeting on March 2 in Glasgow. The sin bin concept, however, has its critics. Sky Sports commentator Paul Merson argued that it could lead to more defensive and less entertaining play. The issues of player behavior and cheating were underlined as areas warranting attention.
Mark Bullingham, Football Association's CEO and board member, underscored the focus on player behavior and the potential extension of sin bins to handle tactical fouls. Lukas Brud, IFAB secretary, emphasized the significance of improving participant behavior for the retention and motivation of referees.