Law changes for the 2019/20 football season

New football laws came in to effect from 1st June

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Law changes for the upcoming 2019/20 season were ratified at the 133rd Annual General Meeting of The International F.A. Board and will be implemented on 1st June.

Three changes were approved following two years of experiments, these include:

  • The introduction of yellow and red cards for misconduct by team officials.
  • A player being substituted leaving the field at the nearest point on the boundary line.
  • At a goal kick and a free kick for the defending team in their own penalty area, the ball is in play as soon the kick is taken (it can be played before it leaves the penalty area).

Other significant changes include alterations to the ‘dropped ball,’ the ‘wall’ at a free-kick, and an attempt to clear up ‘handball’.

Dropped Ball

If play is stopped inside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for the goalkeeper.

If play is stopped outside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for one player of the team that last touched the ball.

In both cases, all other players must be at least 4m away.

If the ball touches the referee and goes into the goal, team possession changes or a promising attack starts, a dropped ball is awarded.

Free Kick

When there is a ‘wall’ of three or more defenders, the attackers are not allowed within 1m of the wall; an attacker less than 1m from the ‘wall’ when the kick is taken will be penalised with an indirect free kick.

When the defending team takes a free kick in their own penalty area, the ball is in play once the kick is taken; it does not have to leave the penalty area before it can be played.

Handball

Deliberate handball remains an offence.

The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:

  • the ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm.
  • a player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touches their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity.
  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger.
  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball which then touches their hand/arm).

The following will not usually be a free kick, unless they are one of the above situations:

  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near.
  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which is close to their body and has not made their body unnaturally bigger.
  • if a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body (but not extended to make the body bigger).
  • if the goalkeeper attempts to ‘clear’ (release into play) a throw-in or deliberate kick from a team-mate but the ‘clearance’ fails, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball.

Penalty Kick

The team’s penalty taker can have (quick) treatment/assessment and then take the kick.

The goalkeeper must not be touching the goalposts/crossbar/nets; they must not be moving.

The goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot on/in line with the goal line when the kick is taken; cannot stand behind the line.

For a full list of law changes visit The Referee’s Association.

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