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Play of the Week 16: Law changes

By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer

In Play of the Week 16 we are discussing the new Laws of the Game changes and confirming that they will not be applied by our referees in any of the professional leagues of the United States and Canada in 2016.

We will be examining how they could have affected this week’s Philadelphia Union versus Vancouver Whitecaps game.

Firstly, following Union’s second goal, at the kick-off, Whitecaps’ Blas Perez directly passes the ball backwards. Under the new laws this will be legal. Perez cannot understand why referee Armando Villarreal does not allow it as he did it for Panama at the Copa America, which did apply the new laws.


Villarreal – one of the officials at Copa America – explains to Perez that this law will not be applied in MLS until 2017. Therefore, the current law will still be applied, which means the ball will continue to be played forward at kick-offs for the duration of the 2016 season.

Read more: PRO officials in action at the Copa America Centenario

Secondly, Vancouver’s Marco Carducci commits a reckless challenge on Philadelphia’s Ilson Pereira and you can see that the impact took place off the field. Referee Villarreal awards a free-kick and cautions Carducci.

Under the current law this should have been a drop ball as the foul took place outside the field of play. Under the new law, this is a free-kick.


Unfortunately, Villarreal, from his viewing angle, does not realize that it took place off the field. In this respect, AR Daniel Belleau, who is looking down the line, should have informed the referee that the contact occurred off the field and a drop ball just inside the touch line should have taken place.

The new law changes generally are for the benefit of the game. Consider these two examples. Passing the ball backwards is sensible as it prevents players waiting in their opponents’ half for the ball, which is illegal but rarely penalized by referees.

The second example of the restart being changed from a drop ball to a direct free-kick is also for the good of the game. If a player commits a reckless and tactical foul as this one was, it deserves to be penalized by a caution and a direct free-kick, not a drop ball as the perpetrator has then achieved his intentions.

However, as mentioned earlier, PRO will wait until the 2017 season to apply the new Laws of the Game. At our training camps, for fear of causing confusion, we will not be discussing any of these changes until we are in preparation for the 2017 season.

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