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Trials to improve player behaviour, including sin bins, approved by IFAB

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Measures to improve player behaviour and increase respect for match officials were supported at the law-making International Football Association Board (IFAB) annual meeting on Tuesday.

A proposed trial whereby only the team captain may approach the referee in certain game situations was backed and it was also agreed that temporary dismissals for dissent and specific tactical offences should be trialled at higher levels.

Sin bins have already had a successful implementation in grassroots football.

The sin bin was introduced to rugby union in 2001, where there has also long been a rule which means only the captain can approach the referee, and there is rarely any issue with players surrounding referees.

The proposals will be considered at IFAB’s AGM in March and any changes approved will be incorporated into the Laws of the Game from July 1 2024.

The members also agreed on continuing to develop semi-automated offside technology to help on-field match officials speed up decision making.

The meeting discussed strategies to address the time lost in games and tactics aimed at disrupting the tempo, including the six-second time restriction for goalkeepers to release the ball, delaying restarts and managing injuries.

IFAB also agreed that, after the successful VAR decision communication trial conducted by football’s world governing body FIFA, in which the referee announces the final decision after a VAR review, the AGM should consider including this measure. 

The members were updated on the ongoing FIFA-led review of the video assistant referee (VAR) protocol, which aims to identify whether any formal recommendations are required for amendments or trials.

This process will involve discussions with major football competitions that have extensive experience of using the VAR system, and all members agreed that any measures should not result in any additional delays.

The meeting considered potential clarifications for the Laws of the Game 2024/25, including a possible amendment to Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct), according to which handball offences leading to penalties would be sanctioned in the same way as fouls.

The members were also updated on the successful trial involving match officials wearing body cameras at grassroots level, which had been introduced to deter instances of serious misconduct towards match officials.

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