The International FA Board, the games’ law makers, sanctioned many experiments at this year’s meeting, but in my opinion they have been bullied into agreeing to one for a change to the law regarding denying a goal scoring opportunity. Coaches have been after this for years, which is somewhat ironic, because if it wasn’t for the actions of coaches we wouldn’t need the law at all.
There can be little doubt that they have encouraged, if not instructed, players to bring down opposing players by fair means or foul if they looked likely to score a goal. The way the IFAB saw to deter this action, was by sending off the offending player. To this they added a one match suspension and of course a free kick and if it was a direct one in the penalty area, a penalty.
Those protesting against what they call the ‘triple punishment’, claim that where this happens in the penalty area, the goal scoring opportunity has not been denied because the attacking team still have a penalty. There will be an experiment carried out in certain leagues, where if the offence is in the penalty area, the offender will only receive a yellow card, providing, and this is important, he/she has made a genuine attempt to play the ball.
So players who commit the offence outside the penalty area, those who stop players by other means such as holding their opponents’ shirt, or preventing a goal by handball will still get a red card. So of course, will any offender who uses excessive force in the tackle. The decision has until now been relatively simple. Deny a goal scoring opportunity – a red card. Now the onus is on the referee to interpret the player’s intention, was it a challenge for the ball?
I think the number of red cards will go down, but in the penalty area more players may take a chance on denying a goal opportunity.