WORLD soccer governing body Fifa have amended some of the laws of the game to end some confusion that has often followed the interpretation of the rules.
Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke announced the amendments in a circular to national associations, which was also copied to the Fifa executive committee, the referees committee and the confederations.
The amendments came into effect on July 1, which means that the local league will implement the new laws next season.
Fifa secretary-general reminded the referees the need to be strict in implementing Law 5 of the game, part of which states that: The referee must stop the match if in his opinion, a player is seriously injured.
The amendments also touched on Law 11 that deals with the OFFSIDE offence, which is likely to generate huge interest from among the local teams.
In the past, the Law read: When an offside offence occurs the referee awards an indirect free kick to be taken from the position of the offending player when the ball was last played to him by one of his teammates.
If a defending player steps behind his own goal line in order to place an opponent in an offside position, the referee must allow play to continue and caution the defender for deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission when the ball is next out of play.
However, the amendment makes it clear that from now on, any defending player leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission shall be deemed to be still in play for the purposes of determining whether an attacker can be adjudged to be in an offside position. A case in point is the Euro 2008 championships clash between Netherlands and Italy when Dutch striker Ruud van Niestelroy stabbed home a goal off a cross while an Italian defender lay sprawling behind his goal line.
Despite claims for an offside offence by Italy, the referee allowed the Dutch goal to stand and in amending the law, Fifa reaffirmed the referee’s decision.
Thus the amendment to Law 11 reads: When an offside offence occurs the referee awards an indirect free kick to be taken from the position of the offending player when the ball was last played to him by one of his teammates.
Any defending player leaving the field of play for any reason without the referee’s permission shall be considered to be on his own goal line or touch line for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play. If the player leaves the field of play deliberately, he must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play.
It is now imperative that coaches and players be educated on the amendment in order to avoid unnecessary disagreements with match officials.
Fifa, in their circular, also amended the restriction on the technical area, which now states that: Only one person at a time is authorised to convey tactical instructions from the technical area.
It is no longer mandatory for the coach to return to his position, which means he can spend the entire 90 minutes barking instructions but he would have to behave in a responsible manner that does not interfere with the discharge of the match officials’ duties.
Fifa also altered the rule which deals with kicks from the penalty mark, commonly known as penalty shoot-out.
If at the end of the match and before the kicks start to be taken from the penalty mark, one team has a greater number of players than its opponents, it must reduce its number to equate with that of its opponents and the team captain must inform the referee of the name and number of each player excluded.
Any player excluded may not participate in kicks from the penalty mark,” reads the circular.