Jun 14, 2018

The new FIFA “Laws of the Game”

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) approved in its General Meeting of March 3rd some important changes to the “Laws of the Game”. All the changes came into force last June  1st and, thus, will be applicable in the FIFA World Cup Russia starting today.

Here is a summary of the most important changes affecting the game:

Additional substitutions in the extra time

If the match goes into the extra-time, each team will have the right to use one additional substitution, even if it has not used all three permitted substitutes.

Electronic devices in the technical areas

From now on, smaller electronic devices will be allowed in the technical area. This was already permitted if they were related to the welfare or safety of the players, but now it will also be accepted for tactical reasons. Conditions are that they have to be small, mobile and hand-held (i.e., microphone, headphone, smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, laptop, etc.).

Now focus will move to the behaviour resulting from the use of such equipment. Consequently, a team official who uses unauthorised equipment or behaves in an inappropriate manner as a result of the use of electronic or communication equipment will be dismissed from the technical area.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

Without any doubt, the major and most controversial change approved by the IFAB. All the regulation regarding the VAR is detailed in Laws number 5 and 6.

For the crucial decision-making, the referee may be assisted by VAR in the event of a “clear and obvious error” or “serious missed incident” in relation to a goal, penalty, direct red card (not second caution) and mistaken identity in case of a send-off.

After reviewing the play, the referee is only allowed to change his decision in the event of a ‘clear and obvious error’. Additionally, it will be forbidden for players to make excessive TV screen gestures in order to demand reviews, as this will be sanctioned with a yellow card.

Ban of political slogans

Personal, religious or political slogans, statements or images will be forbidden. Specially political references are made clearer in Law 4.5 through various specifications and listing. Among others, it is prohibited to commemorate any person, dead or alive (unless he/she is part of the official competition), any political party, organisation, group, government or even political act or event, etc.

Drink breaks

Drink breaks can’t exceed one minute. At the interval of half-time in the extra time, a short drink break is allowed. This very limited amount of time is explicitly mentioned in the regulation to avoid that drink breaks change into coaching sessions. This restriction does not apply to medical ‘cooling breaks’.

Finally it is important to note that the referee will make an allowance in each half for the time lost. This will include the aforementioned new features like the extra substitution, the analysis by the VAR and the drink breaks.

You can access the Laws of the Game 2018/2019 here.

Toni Roca 


Despacho de abogados en Palma de Mallorca