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New IFAB rule changes has more downsides than upsides

Sunday 10th March 2019
Will the changes end up causing more harm than good?
Will the changes end up causing more harm than good?

Changes are inevitable in life. Similarly, changes are happening in football. Be it change in rearguard at the top, a power shift in top leagues or in the record transfer fee. Come next season, however, new modifications are being made to the rules of the beautiful game.

The International Football Association Board(IFAB) passed some football law changes, set to come into effect as soon as next season. These new rules are a measure to clean up the theatrics. They address substitutions, handball, managers and free-kicks, aiming to solve certain issues surrounding them.

First, they’ve evaluated handball goals inside the area. Without VAR in multiple leagues, we’ve seen some freaky handball goals being scored. Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick against Chelsea involved one such. However, from next season onwards, that’s illegal. According to IFAB, a goal directly from a hand/arm(even if accidental) will be disallowed.

Despite being effective in curbing injustice goals like Aguero’s- which would’ve eradicated with VAR- this can cause downsides. If a player’s shot hit’s the opposition one’s hand and flies into the net, disallowing it makes no sense. Regardless of how severe the deflection is, if the shot’s good enough to take it into goal, there’s no meaning to disallow it. This rule encourages more theatrics akin to Luis Suarez’s infamous World Cup handball.

Regarding substitutions, the new rule suggests players no longer have to walk to the half-way line, having the permission to leave the field at the nearest exit. A sting for the purists, this rule makes sense, especially in curbing time-wasting to run down the clock. Whilst sparks could flare up if players deliberately want to wound down the clock, referees now get more leverage to make quick substitutions.

Another controversial development is not allowing attacking players, as in strikers or attacking midfielders, cause mischief in the wall during free-kicks. Set-pieces often become ruptured due to this issue. Yet the naughtiness from clever attackers brings out the giddiness in the game. Many a beautiful free-kick is often thanks to clever deceptions by attackers.

The final rule implementation is almost a surreal one. From now on, coaches could pick up yellow as well as red cards like the players. A coach tries to point out a refereeing error? He gets a yellow card. A coach speaks too much to the fourth official? He possibly gets a red-card. A rule close to being satirical, this controversial implementation could produce hilarious yet frustration results.

All in all, major modifications are bound to occur next season. Not only in the rules, but in the styles as well. No more freak free-kicks through the wall or under them can be seen as no attacker can disrupt the protection. Teams will try to curl it over or even cut it short inside the box, meaning clever set-pieces could become a thing of the past.

Even managers are bound to become more cautious after the new implementation. This almost signals the end of touchline antics. No longer can we expect acts like Louis Van Gaal falling flat or Jurgen Klopp running onto the field like a madman. Jose Mourinho must be shuddering somewhere.  

All in all, these changes are focused on making the game beautiful again. However, the impending implosion is likely to cause even more problems in the sport. The handball rule comes with its’s own issues when clear goals deflected by an arm being disallowed will cause an uproar.

Manager’s being sent off, free-kicks, altered and substitutions, quickened brings new issues to the fray. Intelligent footballing minds will soon notice the loopholes in how to use these to their advantage, inscribing more “dirtiness” to football.

FIFA and IFAB’s intentions are to benefit the beautiful game. However, only time will tell whether these tweaks manage to clean up the mess or end up uncovering more from underneath.

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Uttiyo Sarkar

A freelance writer who loves all things football. Writing about the beautiful game has been a passion of mine for years now and discussing the fine things about it is something I admire. A Manchester United fan for over a decade and an admirer of the English Premier League and Italian Serie A in particular. Also a discreet movie critic on the sidelines and occasional gamer. 

 


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