IFAB Laws of the Game Changes

IFAB Laws of the Game Changes

Ahead of the 2023/24 season IFAB made a small number of changes to the laws of the game a number of which were editorial and will have minimal impact in the application of the laws of the game.

Law 3 - The Players

Goal scored with an extra person on the field of play.

Relevant wording change

If, after a goal is scored, the referee realises before the game is restarted that an extra person was on the field of play when the goal was scored, and that person interfered with play then the referee must...

Explanation and rationale

Clarification that the referee takes action against an extra person on the field when a goal is scored only if the person affected the play. The law does not expect the referee to penalise encroachment onto the field of play if it does not impact the play.

In the 2022 FIFA Men's World Cup final 2 Argentina players can be seen on the field of play but they have no impact on the play or the opposition therefore play should be allowed to continue.

Law 6 - The other match officials

Relevant wording change

A reserve assistant referee may replace an assistant referee, 4th official or additional assistant referee who is unable to continue andmay also assist the referee in the same way as the other ‘on-field’ match officials.

Explanation and rationale

As the role of the RAR becomes more frequent it is logical that the role should be able to provide the same level of support and assistance as the other on-field match officials.

Law 7 - Duration of the match

Relevant wording change

Allowance is made by the referee at the end of each half for all time lost in that half through…

  • Goal celebrations

Explanation and rationale

Goal celebrations will be listed separately to emphasise that they often result in a significant amount of time being lost for which the referee must make allowance.

Law 10 - Determining the outcome of the game

Relevant wording change

Kicks from the penalty mark now become penalties (penalty shoot-out)

Explanation and rationale

The term ‘kicks from the penalty mark’ is outdated and rarely used. Most people refer to this as penalties or a penalty shoot-out

Law 11 - Offside

Further to IFAB circular July 2022 - Relevant wording change

Deliberate play is when a player has control of the ball with the possibility of:

  • Passing the ball to a team mate
  • Gaining possession
  • Clearing the ball (e.g kicking or heading)

If the pass, attempt to gain possession or clearance by the player in control of the ball is unsuccessful or inaccurate this does not negate the fact that the player deliberately played the ball

The following criteria should be used, as appropriate, as indicators that a player was in control of the ball and as a result, can be considered to have ‘deliberately played the ball’

  • The ball travelled from distance and the player had a clear view of it
  • The ball was not moving quickly
  • The direction of the ball was not unexpected
  • The player had time to coordinate their body movement, i.e it was not a case of instinctive stretching, or jumping, or a movement that achieved limited contact/control
  • A ball moving on the ground is easier to play than a ball in the air

In this clip the Wolves defender (Orange) is able to see the ball has travelled from a distance with a clear view of the ball, the ball is not move at real speed with an expected direction. The defending player despite the ball being in the air has time to coordinate their body movement and are not stretching to play the ball. This ultimately is an error by the defender for which we as match officials should not be an insurance policy for. This is a deliberate play and we would expect the goal to be awarded.

In contrast to the previous clip this is an instinctive action by the defender with the ball travelling from a short distance at speed. This was an unexpected ball that the defender did not have time to coordinate their body movement. This is a deflection and not a deliberate play by the defender and we expect the goal to be disallowed.

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Relevant wording change

There are different circumstances where a player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour...

  • Commits any other offence which interferes with or stops a promising attack, except when the referee awards a penalty kick for an offence which was an attempt to play the ball or a challenge for the ball.
  • Denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by committing an offence which was an attempt to play the ball or a challenge for the ball and the referee awards a penalty kick.

Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity…

Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offender is cautioned if the offence the was an attempt to play the ball or a challenge for the ball; in all other circumstances (e.g. holding, pushing, pulling, no possibility to play the ball etc), the offending player must be sent off.

Explanation and rationale

It is not always clear whether an action was an attempt to play the ball or challenge for the ball (or both).

In this clip we see the Fulham defender attack towards the penalty area before being fouled by Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo. As per the LOTG in the 2022/23 season Darren England dismisses him for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) with all 4 DOGSO criteria ticked. However as per the 23/24 changes, here we see a challenge for the ball and Joao Cancelo should be cautioned.

In this clip Teemu Pukki of Finland breaks beyond Mykolenko before being pulled down in a challenge that is purely to stop Pukki progressing. There is no challenge or genuine attempt to play the ball, in both 22/23 and 23/24 Mykolenko should be dismissed from the field of play for this DOGSO offence.

Law 14 - The penalty kick

Relevant wording change

The defending goalkeeper must remain on the goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball is kicked. The goalkeeper must not behave in a way that unfairly distracts the kicker, e.g. delay the taking of the kick or touch the goalposts, crossbar or goal net.

Explanation and rationale

Clarification that the goalkeeper must not behave in a manner that fails to show respect for the game and the opponent i.e by unfairly distracting the kicker.