The 22,000 word Laws of the Game (LOTG) and their interpretations have been reduced to 12,000 words and a lot of the wording has been modified/clarified/updated.
These changes were approved in January and are only subject to one more ratification in March. They will then go into effect on June 1, including for all of our youth games here in the Bay Area.
A couple of key changes:
- kick-off: the ball can now be kicked in any direction. One consequence is probably going to be that we will see kick-offs taken by only one player instead of the usual two.
- off-side: free kicks will now be taken where the opponent commits the offside offense which is typically where he/she touches the ball or interferes with play, not where the player was when they first were in an offside position. So, for example, an attacker who is running back, say, 20 yards from an offside position five yards inside the opponents’ half to receive a pass will now be penalized at the point he or she touches the ball (here 15 yards inside his/her own half) not where the attacker was first in an offside position (5 yards inside the opponent’s half).
- infraction off the field of play: the restart will be a direct free kick instead of a dropped ball. And a penalty kick if the infraction occurred behind the penalty box. For example, if a player tries to grab another player to prevent him/her from returning to the field of play while both are anywhere behind the penalty area then that’s going to be a penalty kick.
- modification to DOGSO red card: if a goalkeeper or defender genuinely tries to challenge for the ball in the penalty area, then the punishment will be a yellow card, not a red card anymore. This is meant to reduce the ‘triple punishment’ concern…eviction from game (playing down a player), suspension (for a second game), and penalty. The challenge is going to be for the referee to now determine ‘intent’, which is subjective and can lead to inconsistencies. Well, nothing is perfect.
There will be many more changes, but we will have to wait until the new LOTG are published in March.