IFAB confirm free-kick rules will be changed from next season

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

With the introduction of VAR, football as we know it has been changing for quite some time. 

Premier League clubs are set to welcome video assistant referees from next season, with the system having been trialled in some domestic cup games in the last two campaigns. 

The game is never going to be perfect, and some fans feel that such controversy only enhances the experience. 

To put it bluntly, there have already been enough refereeing howlers in English football this weekend to fill the next week's worth of columns. The north London derby alone made sure of that. 

However, even aside from VAR, football's lawmakers are still looking for new ways to improve the flow of matches and iron out some of the tricks teams have got used to utilising over the years.

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A few small tweaks are now on the cards. 

The International FA Board (Ifab) have already discussed a number of new options. First, penalties could be restricted to just one shot, so rebounds wouldn't count. 

The potential rule change which has attracted the most publicity - and that most would welcome, with the possible exception of Sean Dyche - is one which would combat time-wasting. 

The governing body want to introduce legislation which means players who are subbed off have to leave the pitch by the closest touchline, rather than slowly ambling over to the dugout.

On top of that, accidental handballs will be punished in the run-up to goals. The idea is to bring fans' expectations of what should happen, and what actually does happen, closer together. 

The new rule on free-kicks 

Yet another change has been reported in the London Evening Standard, which would affect how attacking free-kicks are taken. 

Currently, when a player steps up to take a free-kick, there is usually at least one of his team-mates to be found standing next to the defensive wall.


That is being outlawed. To prevent it, a one-meter 'exclusion zone' will be brought in. 

IFAB technical director David Elleray is quoted: 

"It leads to confrontation as the attacking players try to force a gap in the wall and delays the free-kick because the referee has to stop all the pushing and shoving."

It is indeed tiresome when set-pieces are delayed by these tactics, and if anything, it will just free up another attacking player to make a run into the box. 

Other changes being lined up are: 

  • Potential drop-balls when the ball hits the referee. 
  • The goalkeeper only being required to have one foot on the goal-line during penalties.

On paper, none of the new laws are earth-shattering, but combined, they could have a very positive impact on how the game operates.

Do the rules on free-kicks need to be changed? Have your say in the comments. 

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