New season, new laws – a look at some major changes

Mark Geiger
Image: Mark Geiger brandishing a yellow card

A number of new laws will come into force when the 2017 season starts on March 3.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) made nearly 100 alterations to the Laws of the Game in the 2016/17 revision, which IFAB Technical Director David Elleray described as a once in a generation opportunity to address the anomalies and inconsistencies of the Laws.

The revised Laws of the Game, which has 10,000 fewer words for a more simple structure, aims to help players, coaches, spectators and the media understand the logic of the referees’ decision. The new Laws encourage and reward fair play, and ensure players and teams do not benefit from breaking them.

Here’s a look at some of the major changes you can expect to see during 2017 in MLS, NASL, USL and NWSL:

Law 8 – Kickoff

The first change you are most likely to notice is the kickoff. The ball no longer has to go forward at kickoff, and can be kicked in any direction. The ball must clearly move to be in play.

Laws 8 – The clear restart of play

The phrase ‘clearly moves’ has been added to the Laws of the Game on all restarts. This means that attempts to trick the opposition at restarts by tapping the ball will be ended. This is particularly relevant at corner kicks.

The new Laws possess an emphasis on sporting behavior, and this amendment supports that.

Law 5 – On-field treatment

Players may receive quick on-field assessment or treatment if they are injured as a result of a physical offence for which the opponent is cautioned (yellow card) or sent off (red card).

So, if player A is fouled by player B, and player B receives a yellow or red card for the offence, player A may receive a maximum of 20 to 30 seconds of on-field treatment.

Law 5 – Disciplinary action

The referee will be able to give a player a red card before the match kicks off.

As an example, if a player commits a violent conduct offence in the pregame warm up or as the teams line up in the tunnel, the referee can punish accordingly with a red card.

The new law states a player can be sent off any time between the pregame inspection and when the referee leaves the field of play at the end of the game.

Law 11 – Position of free kick for offside

A free kick for offside will be taken from wherever the offside offence occurs (including in player’s own half).

So, if a player is in an offside position when the ball is passed by a teammate, but then enters their own half to play the ball or challenge an opponent, the player is offside and the opponents’ free kick will be taken from wherever they touched the ball or challenged the opponent.

Law 12 – Fouls off the field

If a foul is committed off the field of play, a free kick will be awarded at the nearest point on the boundary line. If it’s behind the goal line at the nearest point of the penalty area, a PK will be awarded.

Law 12 – Denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) in the penalty area

DOGSO offences in the penalty area where the defender is penalized for an offence which was an attempt to play the ball or challenge the opponent for the ball, the defender will be cautioned (yellow card), not sent off (red card).

However, FIFA do not want to encourage unfair play so for DOGSO offences inside the penalty area which are not an attempt to play the ball or challenge the opponent for the ball, or deliberate handball, the offending player will still be sent off (red card).

There is no change with regard to DOGSO offences which occur outside the penalty area.

Laws of the Game: Click here to see the Laws in full on TheIFAB.com

Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer will be back in 2017 with his Play of the Week series, which provides an analysis of certain decisions made by PRO’s officials.