Clubs and players across the Premier League will have to get used to several rule changes ahead of the 2021/2022 season – following intervention from the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
As the universal regulator in charge of mapping out rules and laws for the game, the IFAB announced a number of alterations in March this year.
However, they won’t come into effect until the next domestic campaign, meaning ongoing Euro 2020 matches are being governed by IFAB’s previous terms and conditions.
The main focus of the changes was Law 12 (fouls and misconduct), while the handball law has also been clarified in response to a number of incorrect applications of the law.
Indeed, the clarification in that regard now states that handball occurs if a player ‘deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball’ or ‘touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger’.
Goals will continue to be disallowed if they are scored directly via the hand/arm, or having touched their hand/arm, even if that is deemed to be accidental by the officials.
Crucially, though, handball will not be given if an accidental handball from a teammate led to a goal or a goalscoring opportunity; that will no longer be considered an offence.
Similarly to handball, the offside law has also been clarified. As a result, the arm is deemed to end at the bottom of each player’s armpit – an area which will now be viewed as the cut-off point when judging those calls.
Also, as per Law 12, the ‘offence of using a “trick” to circumvent the law against a goalkeeper handling the ball from a deliberate kick from a team-mate will apply at goal kicks; the instigator will be cautioned’.
As for concussion substitutes, which were introduced midway through the 2020/2021 season on an initial trial basis, they will continue throughout the next campaign – as that trial period is due to expire in August 2022.
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Once again, the date of introduction to these laws has moved from June 1 to July 1, meaning they are not in use for the European Championships and/or Copa America – which are running alongside each other this summer.
According to IFAB, this decision was made so that they could ‘give players, coaches and match officials more time to become familiar with the changes to the Laws of the Game’.
Innovations to VAR were also discussed by the governing body, specifically around enabling competitions with less funds and stricter budgets to use the technology available. As things stand, there has been no announcement about those proposals.
Following a delayed start to last season, due to implications brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, next season will take on a more familiar look once again, domestically at least.
Indeed, fixtures for the upcoming Premier League campaign have already been released with the big kick-off scheduled for Saturday, August 14, although one opening game may be scheduled on the Friday night – subject to broadcasting requests.