FROM THE MIDDLE: Trails of law changes

Assistant referee or Lineman of football or soccer holding flag

At the IFAB annual meeting, Technical Committee Director, David Elleray, said about this season’s problems over handball changes, ‘you don’t know what going to happen until you put them into use’.

It is not always realised that any proposed changes to the Laws are usually trialled in a number of competitions or countries before being incorporated in the Laws. Years ago I went to an evening Watney’s Cup match at Elm Park, where the line at the end of the penalty area was extended to the touch lines.

In other words, there was a line drawn at eighteen yards across the pitch and a player could only be given offside if he was inside that eighteen yards. That experiment was scrapped but Keith Hackett, the former Premier League Referee Supremo, has recently proposed something similar.

Legendary former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, now FIFA Director of World Football Development, has also proposed an offside change to help VAR.

Personally, I am against this. Even though there are moves afoot to make VAR cheaper so it can be used in lower divisions, it will still only be in use in a small fragment of football matches played all over the world.

They should try and alter VAR, because the VAR cameras are stationary, not following the last but one defender, as assistant referees do. To be fair to the footballing authorities

they are trying to develop something like this, with what is called a ‘semi-automatic assistant referee’.

VAR was of course, trialled in six countries (not England) before it was used globally. It’s a pity that when it came to the Premier League they didn’t follow the experience of the MLS, where Howard Webb introduced it as one of the trialling countries. Being trialled this year is concussion substitutes and not before time.

The original change to penalise accidental handball if it resulted in a goal was trialled, so it may be asked why this season’s weren’t. The point is they weren’t seen as changes.

The IFAB was asked to more clearly define what was accidental and what was deliberate handball and seemingly got carried away.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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