Penalty goals, dribbling from free kicks and corners, and points deductions for mobbing the referee are among a crop of radical proposals for discussion by football’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board. IFAB’s technical director David Elleray, the former English referee, is behind a strategy document which he describes as ‘a quiet revolution’.
Under the proposals players would be allowed to play free kicks and corners to themselves instead of passing; the ball need not be stationary for a free kick; a penalty would be awarded for a goalkeeper handling a back pass; and a penalty goal could be given if an outfield player handles on or close to the goal line.
Possible changes to time keeping include the whistle only being blown for halftime and fulltime when the ball goes out of play; and using 60 minutes of actual playing time rather than 90 overall minutes as at present. Teams could also be docked points for surrounding a referee.
Minor amendments include a goal kick not having to leave the penalty area before a defender touches it and a goal kick being awarded if a player misses a penalty kick, instead of any follow up being allowed.
“You could say it is a quiet revolution aimed at getting football even better,” Elleray told The Times newspaper. “My starting point was to look at the laws and say ‘what are they for?’ and if there is no particular reason then would changing them make the game better?”
A long-term supporter of video assistance for referees, Elleray believes trials are going well and improving behaviour. “Players know they cannot get away with things such as violent conduct and bad tackles,” he said.
The strategy document, called Play Fair, will be discussed over the next few months, before the 2018 IFAB annual general meeting, in March, which will decide which proposals should be trialled in competitive matches.
“The underlying philosophy of ‘Play Fair’ is a call to the conscience of everyone involved in football,” said a statement on the IFAB website.