Wed, Feb 05, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Soccer rule-makers to mull sin bins

Reuters, BERNE

Soccer’s rule-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), is to hold preliminary discussions at its next meeting on the use of sin bins and video replays to help referees, world soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Monday.

FIFA emphasized that both proposals were included for discussion only and could be submitted for further examinations to the IFAB’s two new advisory panels.

The items were “not yet at the stage of being considered... for decision in terms of alterations to the existing laws of the game,” FIFA said.

The controversial “triple punishment,” where a player concedes a penalty, is sent off and then has to serve an automatic suspension, will also be on the agenda as a discussion item at the meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, on March 1.

The IFAB is also set to decide whether to allow male players to use headgear on religious grounds and permit so-called “rolling substitutions” in amateur and recreational matches.

These would allow players who had been substituted to return to the pitch later in the match, a move designed to bring greater flexibility and maintain interest in grass-roots soccer.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his UEFA counterpart, Michel Platini, have both advocated the use of sin bins, in which players would sit out for five to 10 minutes for certain offenses.

The inclusion of video replays, which are used in other sports such as rugby union and cricket, on the agenda is something of a surprise, though, as soccer has in general been wary of using any form of technology to help match officials.

It took years of debate for the sport to accept the use of goal-line technology, which was finally approved in 2012 after a series of controversies where goals were shown to have been wrongly disallowed because officials had not seen the ball cross the line.

Platini remained opposed to goal-line technology all along, saying it would open the way for the use of other technology, and said in August last year that FIFA had opened a “Pandora’s box” of technology by allowing it.

The IFAB has recently been reformed and two new advisory panels — one representing players and coaches, and the other representing referees — are to examine the proposed changes and provide suggestions to the eight-man board.

The new structure is expected to give the IFAB more freedom to experiment with proposed changes.

The use of headgear for men appears set to be approved following a two-year trial period. Female Muslim players were given permission to wear headscarves two years ago.

“After a two-year pilot, there is no indication as to why the wearing of head covers should be prohibited, as long as their design restrictions are respected as defined in the pilot,” a proposed amendment says. “Furthermore, the male football community has also raised the need for male players to be permitted to wear head covers, as it is considered discriminatory.”

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