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FIFPro noticed the positive signs in the way IFAB, the International Football Association Board, handled its revision of the 'Laws of the Game'.

Some changes to football regulations were made while taking into account the opinion and experiences of professional football players and their official representative body, FIFPro.

Since 2014, FIFPro is represented in one of two new experts’ panels advising IFAB.

Members of these panels meet twice a year to discuss topical issues related to the Laws of the Game and present their recommendations to IFAB, to support football’s regulations board with greater expertise before taking decisions.

“The establishment of the Advisory Panels certainly changed the atmosphere at IFAB,” says Tijs Tummers, Head of FIFPro’s Technical Committee. “Without losing its cautiousness, IFAB now dares to discuss previously taboo issues and anticipates future developments.”

The results are visible in IFAB’s ‘Laws of the Game 2016/17’, which is a comprehensive revision of football’s rules.

No more triple punishment

It includes a change of the sanction for ‘denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity’ (also known as ‘DOGSO’ or ‘triple punishment’). This offence concerns a player committing a foul in the penalty area and denying a goal-scoring opportunity. Previously the guidelines stated that the player would receive a triple sanction: a penalty for the opponent, and for himself a red card and an automatic suspension.

Through the years players and coaches informed FIFPro about their dissatisfaction with this rule, as they deemed it too harsh. Already in 2010 FIFPro requested an adjustment of this rule..

The rule change sees the player sanctioned with the yellow card if the foul in the penalty area was made while attempting to play the ball or challenging an opponent for the ball. The referee will show the red card for penalty area offences such as:

  • holding, pulling or pushing
  • handball
  • not attempting to play the ball
  • not having a chance to play the ball
  • violent conduct

FIFPro survey fourth substitute

Another positive sign is the upcoming experiment with a fourth substitute. At this year’s Olympics, Club World Cup and Women’s U-20 World Cup teams will be allowed to substitute a fourth player during overtime.

In 2015, FIFPro organised a survey among more than 250 footballers in its players’ pool, of which more than 80 percent agreed with the introduction of a fourth substitute. The result was discussed during one of the IFAB advisory panel meetings.

“It is encouraging that the opinion of the players is taken into account when IFAB is creating or improving rules,” says Tijs Tummers, Head of FIFPro’s Technical Committee. “As main actors in the game, professional football players experience the consequences of rule changes as much as any other person.”

The two advisory panels that provide expert advice to IFAB two weeks ago met in the Netherlands for a discussion about the recent changes and a workshop about the Video Assistant Referee. Tummers was also present, as was PFA England’s John Bramhall.


Photo: Pierluigi Collina (UEFA's Chief Refereeing Officer), Tijs Tummers and Massimo Busacca (Head of FIFA's Refereeing Department)


 About IFAB

The IFAB held its first meeting on 2 June 1886, with two representatives from each of the UK’s football associations (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) in attendance. The body was created to draw up uniform rules for the game, as until then each country applied a different set of rules.

Since, IFAB has been the global body to decide on the ‘Laws of the Game’.

Currently IFAB consists of one representative of each of the original UK football associations and four FIFA representatives.

In 2014, IFAB established two new advisory panels: a Technical Panel and a Football Panel. These bodies, consisting of football stakeholders such as FIFPro, can propose new ideas.