SOCCER

Possible introduction of kicking discussed by Ifab football lawmakers

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Explaining refereeing decisions during a match and potentially fairer calculation of playing time were among other possible future trials discussed at the Ifab’s 136th Annual General Meeting.

The possible introduction of kicks was discussed at the last meeting of the football legislative body.

The International Football Association Board (Ifab) held its annual general meeting in Doha on Monday.

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And although the body said there were talks about the kicks, there were no plans to try them yet.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, head of global development for world governing body Fifa, included the idea among several new proposals last year.

“Proposals have been made to test kicks,” Fifa President Gianni Infantino said. “While we may be a little skeptical of some of these metrics… if certain proposals are there to help the game, we won’t know until we review them, so we will be reviewing those proposals as well.”

Throw-ins have been used in football since the 1860s, with the Football Association removing the throw-in option in 1863.

Speaking last year, Wenger said throw-ins and free-kicks were the “two big time wasters right now”.

He added: “The goal is to make the game more spectacular and faster, and maybe with throw-ins you could play with your feet, within a five-second limit for example.

“But it has to be tested and then accepted by Ifab.”

Meanwhile, semi-automated Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology could be ready in time for the Qatar World Cup.

Fifa President Gianni Infantino said a decision would be made before the tournament starts in November, but Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the governing body’s referees committee, added: “I am convinced that it can go forward.”

The technology, which uses automated ball detection to help highlight offsides in seconds, will continue to be tested.

The use of five substitutes is now introduced into the Laws of the Game.

However, the trial for additional permanent concussion surrogates has been extended until August 2023 – despite calls from activists for temporary concussion substitutions to introduce.

Tottenham Hotspur's Emerson Royal is examined for signs of concussion
The option to temporarily replace players while they undergo a head injury assessment is still not available

The Ifab initially approved a trial which only allowed permanent concussion replacements in December 2020 – although the Professional Footballers’ Association called for temporary replacements to be included as part of the tests.

The rule allows for a permanent substitution to be made if a player suffers a head injury – regardless of how many substitutions a team has already used.

Although the temporary replacements have been reconsidered, Ifab said: “Members agreed that trials should continue to focus on the permanent removal of any player with actual or possible concussion to ensure that this player does not continue to participate.

“It was agreed that further training is needed to ensure the trial protocols are applied correctly.”

Ahead of Ifab’s latest ruling, campaigner Dawn Astle, daughter of former England and West Brom striker Jeff Astle – who died in 2002 of a footballing head-related brain disease – said “players are endangered” by the current rules.

Measures such as body cameras worn by referees could also be trialled in a bid to improve the safety of officials in adult grassroots football.

Suggested search last year over 90% of base umpires have suffered abuse, raising fears that the treatment of officials at grassroots level could drive many people out of the sport for good.

The Football Association proposed a discussion of a body camera pilot at the Ifab earlier this year following calls from referees and local league administrators.

The use of five substitutes was initially introduced in May 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Premier League was the only major competition not to continue with the rule for the 2020-21 season, but top-flight clubs agreed to return to five substitutions from the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

It has also been decided that the number of substitutes named in matchday squads should be increased from 12 to 15, at the discretion of the competition organiser.

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