How will FIFA’s new rule changes affect goalkeepers?

In March 2016 the IFAB announced huge changes to the FIFA laws, a once in a generation shake up of the current FIFA rulebook.

A lot of the changes where to address interpretations of laws to ensure they were followed correctly but the 94 edits also include law changes based on common sense and meeting the needs of the modern game.

For example – the ball can now be moved in any direction from the kick off and if a player is injured by a tackle that results in a yellow or red card then the injured player is allowed to receive a quick assessment and/or treatment on the field rather than having to leave the field of play, which gives the offending team a potential numerical advantage.

This overhaul of the current rulebook, along with the changes proposed is undoubtedly the largest overhaul of the Laws ever undertaken in the IFAB’s 130-year history and has reportedly halved the word count of the rulebook!

The rule changes mentioned so far may not seem like much, but the two biggest changes will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the modern game going forward.

Introduction of Video Replay

Firstly, the IFAB have agreed to live video replay experiments for the 2017/18 season. Their aim is not to achieve 100% accuracy for every decision, but instead to ensure that they avoid clearly incorrect decisions that are pre-defined as ‘game changing’ situations – penalty decisions, goals, direct red cards and mistaken identity.

The first video replay experiment will be for a video referee to have live access to replays during the match and he will either review an incident on request of the referee or proactively inform the referee that they have missed something.

Clearly the introduction of video replays will have a huge effect on goalkeepers, particularly the change to penalties. We see far too many players in the professional game go tumbling over non-existent contact in the box resulting in penalties that never should have been. I also suspect there will be a few more goals chalked off for infringements that the ref would have otherwise missed – can you say more clean sheets?

Unfortunately there is some bad news with regards to this rule change, clearly it is only going to have an impact at a professional level and even then it may be limited to the top tier where video replays are available from multiple angles etc. So potentially a huge rule change but it won’t affect most of our readers!

Change to Triple Punishment Rule

Don’t worry though, the second big rule change is one that will have a massive effect on goalkeepers from Sunday league through to the Champions League. It relates to something which has long been described by the IFAB as the Triple Punishment Rule.

The ‘Triple Punishment Rule’ is where a goalkeeper (or any other player) unlawfully denies a clear goal scoring opportunity in the penalty area.

This currently results in a penalty, a red card for the offending player and a ban. Seems a little bit excessive for a genuine attempt to win the ball doesn’t it? Particularly if you’re a goalkeeper and 99% of your attempted ‘challenges’ are within the penalty area.

The IFAB has finally agreed that this is an excessive rule and have essentially changed the red card to a yellow card from June 2016 – although there are a few necessary caveats. The rule change essentially only applies to genuine attempts to play the ball so the below will still result in a red card, penalty and ban:

  • The offence is holding, pulling or pushing or-
  • The offending player does not attempt to play the ball or – there is no possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball or-
  • The offence is one which is punishable wherever it occurs on the field of play i.e. serious foul play or violent conduct.

Clearly this change will have a big impact for keepers – for one, they will be sent off far less! It might mean that keepers switch back to being a bit more attacking/aggressive in their challenges as they fear being sent off less, currently a lot of professional keepers have switched to a style of standing their ground and just trying to block the shot.

This role could also have a huge impact on the ‘sweeper keeper’ role, let’s remember that the change is only to remove the triple punishment of fouls in the box. It does not affect goal scoring opportunities outside of it, so essentially if Neuer races out of his box and fouls the attacker two yards outside of his box he will still be sent off and face a ban. If the same foul happens two yards inside the box, he won’t be sent off but will instead face a penalty.

How do you think the changes will affect the game? Do you think they are positive or negative changes? Either way, I would recommend amateur keepers make sure their referees are aware of them from next season!

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Daz @ KeeperPortal

Owner and creator of Keeper Portal, an FA qualified goalkeeping coach as well as being pretty impressive at keeping balls out of a net.

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