Players will be shown a red card if they deliberately cough at an opponent or official

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Football has returned after the coronavirus pandemic but it’s not the sport we know and love.

There are no fans inside the stadium, while substitutes have to socially distance in the stands. Disinfected football are placed on cones around the pitch, while there’s no pre-match handshake.

It could be a very long time until football comes back properly.

In fact, rules are being implemented to help football adjust to the impact of coronavirus.

That’s because, according to a report in The Times, players will be sent off if they cough deliberately at an opponent or match official, according to new Football Association guidance.

The rule will come into force immediately and apply to all levels of the game.

Well that’s understandable, isn’t it?

A player caught deliberately coughing will be given the same punishment as punching a player and not only lead to a red card but potential police action.

The FA’s document for referees states: “Where the referee is certain that someone deliberately, and from close range, coughed into the face of an opponent or match official … the referee should take action under the law 12, ‘using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures’.

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“The action of moving the head/mouth towards someone and then coughing would fall within the ‘spirit’ and general definition of a gesture which is ‘a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning’.

“If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour — shows a lack of respect for the game’.”

Can you imagine VAR checking if a player deliberately coughed or not, though?

Back in March, Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa was heavily criticised for fake coughing towards journalists after his side overcame Liverpool in the Champions League at Anfield.

Meanwhile, officials have been told to ask players not to spit during matches.

“Spitting on the floor is not an act of misconduct unless it is at someone when it is punishable with a red card, as per the laws of the game,” they’ve been told.

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“Other acts of spitting or similar actions, eg nose-clearing, are strongly discouraged for all participants. If advice is offered and clearly ignored, then the referee should make specific mention in their match report to the competition.”

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