Benfica exploited the new goal kick rule against AC Milan

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A number of rule changes have been introduced to football for the 2019-20 season.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has made changes to drop balls, handballs, free-kicks, quick free-kicks and substitutions in an attempt to improve the game.

There’s been a tweak to goal kicks, too, with goalkeepers now allowed to pass the goals to a teammate inside the penalty area.

BBC Sport wrote last month: “The law now says the ball is considered in play once the kick is taken. Until now a goal-kick had to be retaken if it did not leave the box.

“It could make a big difference to teams like Liverpool and Manchester City, whose defenders could drop into the box to receive a goal-kick from Alisson or Ederson.

“Opponents must still remain outside the penalty area until the kick is taken.”

Inter Milan showed how the change will benefit teams this season in their pre-season friendly against Juventus on Wednesday.

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Benfica exploit the new rule

And Benfica made the most of it in their match against AC Milan on Sunday, although it’s caused some controversy.

The Portuguese side had a goal-kick in the first half. Goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos chipped the ball up to his defender, stood just a few yards away, and the defender headed the ball back to Vlachodimos.

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The Greek ‘keeper caught it and tried to launch a quick counter-attack.

Notice how AC Milan’s players stray from their positions when Vlachodimos chips the ball. Although nothing came of it in this instance, this would theoretically benefit Benfica.

Football fans are debating whether Benfica’s actions are illegal or not.

Law 12 in IFAB’s guidelines state: “There are different circumstances when a player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour including if a player uses a deliberate trick to pass the ball (including from a free kick) to the goalkeeper with the head, chest, knee etc. to circumvent the Law, whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with the hands.”

Fans on Reddit are debating whether it would be allowed as the goalkeeper performed the initial ‘trick’ - flicking the ball up.

And one person claiming to be a referee explained just why it was difficult for the referee in the match to punish Benfica at the time.

They wrote: “As a referee, the reason this becomes difficult to sanction is because of the question ‘who has committed the trick’?

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“Did the goalkeeper illegally do something by scooping the ball to his player? No.

“Did the other play do something illegal by heading a ball back to his keeper? No.

“In the scope of the whole situation it seems obviously against the spirit of the game, but the only ‘clear’ hardline answer would be to caution them both and restart with an indirect free kick in the penalty area.

“What happens if they’re both on a yellow already? Send them both off? Nah.”

Check out the entire conversation HERE.

What is evident is that IFAB need to make clear how the new goal kick rule can and can’t be used.

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