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International rules committee to vote on new handball rule, fifty others

IFAB looks to redefine handballs and penalty kicks, among others in proposals to change the Laws of the Game.

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Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is proposing fifty rule changes for next year. The most notable change would be the wording that defines what a handball is. According to the Telegraph and other sources, IFAB is considering taking the word “deliberately” out of the definition, which forces referees to judge whether a player’s action was deliberate.

Instead, it appears that a handball would be called based on the position of the arm. If the ball hits a player’s arm extended above the shoulder, or below the shoulder in an unnatural position, a free-kick or penalty would automatically be awarded.

Other notable changes proposed also deal with penalty kicks. One proposal is for an “ABBA” system for penalty shootouts. This means that team A would take one shot, followed by two from team B and then one more from team A. Another proposal is to eliminate the opportunity for a team to score immediately after a blocked penalty shot. If approved, this proposal would render any missed PK during the game a dead ball. Any ball that is saved into the field of play or bounces off the post and stays in, would be awarded as a goal-kick.

IFAB is the body that determines the Laws of the Game. It is made up of the four British Football Associations (England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland) and FIFA. Each FA has one vote, while FIFA has four. Any rule change requires six votes, meaning that FIFA and at least two of the countries must approve the proposal.

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