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Thursday 19 Jan 2023
IFAB discusses ways to enhance football

VAR, the offside rule and temporary substitutions for concussions were among the topics discussed at the Annual Business Meeting of The International Football Association Board (IFAB).

At the meeting, held at Wembley Stadium in London, IFAB followed up on recommendations made by its Football and Technical Advisory Panels in October 2022 and expressed its support for measures identified to make the game fairer and more captivating.

It was agreed that referees’ live communication of video assistant referee (VAR)‑related decisions to the public, both in the stadium and via broadcasters, would be trialled for 12 months in international competitions, and that it would initially be rolled out at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, which begins on 1 February.

IFAB, in which the Irish Football Association continues to play an active role, also discussed clarifications relating to the Laws of the Game 2023-24, including the confirmation of the published guidelines on ‘deliberate play’ in offside situations.

The guidelines were released following a number of high-profile situations based on the expectation that a player who is clearly in an offside position should not become ‘onside’ on all occasions when an opponent moves and touches the ball.

IFAB is made up of the four British football associations and FIFA, which provided updates on the latest developments in VAR technology, including innovations that could allow more competitions to use it. Insights were also provided on the successful introduction of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The members followed up on possible measures to create fairer conditions for both teams in terms of the amount of time available in a match while adhering to the framework established by the current Laws of the Game.

The approach taken during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was received positively, and possible measures included the stricter and more accurate calculation of additional time and a more consistent application of the Laws of the Game.

The Board discussed applications received from certain leagues regarding the introduction of a trial with temporary substitutions for actual or suspected concussion, but no consensus was reached.

The topic remains under active review, as does the agreement to introduce measures to improve the application of the protocols drawn up for permanent concussion substitutions. The Board indefinitely extended the trial with permanent concussion substitutions.

At yesterday’s meeting the members also considered further ways of improving discipline and reducing aggression towards match officials, players and team officials at grassroots and amateur level, including by implementing a trial with match recordings that may be used to provide evidence of any misconduct during games.

It was reiterated that detailed protocols would need to be drawn up before any potential trial could be conducted. In order to follow up on the potential measures identified, it was agreed that a working group would be established consisting of referees, players, coaches and other key stakeholders.

The ABM, which was chaired by Mark Bullingham, chief executive of The FA, shapes the agenda for the AGM, where any proposed changes to the Laws of the Game are considered for approval. Any changes approved at the AGM will become part of the Laws of the Game as of 1 July 2023.