Football rules panel to test ideas for change

GRAHAM DUNBAR AP Sports Writer Published:

ZURICH (AP) -- FIFA has given football's rule-making panel the freedom and budget to test new ideas before deciding on changes.

Members of the International Football Association Board, comprising FIFA and the four British federations, said Monday they will use their new independence to be pro-active.

"We will have the opportunity to test and pilot different programs," Wales football association chief executive Jonathan Ford said at a briefing. "Historically, we have not been very successful in doing that."

Ford said sin bins, when a player is forced off the field for a certain amount of time after committing a foul, were "absolutely" the kind of major change that would benefit from detailed study.

UEFA President Michel Platini has suggested players could be removed from the field for 10-15 minutes for some offenses instead of receiving a yellow card.

Platini previously joined calls for IFAB to become more open and transparent in FIFA's recent modernizing reforms.

In its new structure, the panel will appoint two advisory groups in March at its 127th annual meeting to update the laws of the game. Specialists in football and technical issues will receive and generate proposals.

"It means there will be easier access and a way to listen to the world of football," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said.

IFAB's biggest decision in recent years was approving the use of goal-line technology after years of opposition by FIFA President Sepp Blatter fueled a perception that the panel was failing to represent all interests in world football.

Valcke acknowledged that had been "a fear (the panel) could be integrated within FIFA."

An IFAB decision last year to modify the offside law caused confusion and anger in a Premier League match on Sunday, when Newcastle was denied a goal against Manchester City, which won 2-0.

In March, IFAB will decide whether to allow women and girls to wear Islamic headscarves in matches at the end of a two-year pilot project which followed a campaign led by FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

Sin bins could be the next major issue for IFAB to handle, as Blatter also suggested giving referees the power to stop players from returning to play immediately if they feigned injury.

Valcke said anyone in world football could make a law-changing proposal, and IFAB could be asked in future to extend video technology by helping referees make decisions on penalty kicks and offside.

However, panel members were wary Monday of interfering with the flow of play and tinkering with rules.

"We have to tamper with the laws of the game very infrequently to make sure we protect them," Scotland FA chief executive Stewart Regan said.

Football rules can be changed when a 6-2 majority vote is reached. FIFA delegates have four votes and the England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales FAs have one each.

The March meeting in Zurich will look again at modifying the so-called "triple punishment" in which a defender or goalkeeper can receive a red card and suspension for conceding a penalty. The current law is widely viewed as too severe, though IFAB members said Monday that relaxing the sanction could encourage players to commit fouls to deny a goal-scoring opportunity.