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Friday, August 02, 2019
Football's New Laws Learn Them Know Them

Goalkeepers picking up backpasses (sort of), uncontested drop balls and more handball decisions - football's laws have changed again.

A dozen changes from the International Football Association Board (ifab) came in over the summer - you may have seen some of them if you were following the Women's World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations or Copa America.

But they are bound to cause plenty of talking points in the opening weeks of the season as every tournament worldwide, adopts them for the coming season.

Some are quite trivial but several could make a big difference to the game.

Drop balls can no longer be contested, but the change is more positive than it sounds.

If play is stopped, the ball will be dropped to a player on the team that last touched the ball - and where they touched it. All other players must be 4.5 yards (4 metres) away.

What that means is if a team's attack is stopped, they will get the ball back in that position - instead of the opponents booting the ball down the field.

However, any play stopped in a penalty area will be returned to the goalkeeper, even if the attacking team had the ball.

Another big change now sees a drop ball awarded if the ball hits the referee and goes to the other team as a result, or if the referee accidentally scores a goal, as happened in the Dutch fourth division a week before the law change.

The law remains that deliberate handball is an offence. But accidental handball will also be a free-kick or penalty if...

◾the ball goes into the goal off an attacker
◾a player gets the ball using his or her arm or hand and then scores, or creates a goalscoring opportunity (such as Ellen White's disallowed goal against Sweden in the Women's World Cup third-place play-off)
◾the player's arm or hand is above their shoulder (unless the player has controlled the ball onto his own arm or hand)
◾a player's hand or arm has made their body "unnaturally bigger"

A handball will not be a free-kick if...

◾the ball is knocked on to a hand by the player in question or a nearby player
◾the arm or hand is close to their body and "has not made their body unnaturally bigger"
◾a player is falling and the ball touches their hand or arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body - but not extended to make the body bigger

However "unnaturally bigger" is open for some debate. The Netherlands were given a penalty against Japan for handball at the Women's World Cup but Premier League referees' chief Mike Riley said "we consider that to be a natural position of the hand".

He added: "The way we've actually implemented handball for the past two or three seasons is the way we are going to continue to do it in the future."

Another change to the handball rule relates to the goalkeeper.

If the goalkeeper attempts to clear ("release into play") a throw-in or backpass and their clearance fails, then they can handle the ball.

Ifab says this is because "when the goalkeeper clearly kicks or tries to kick the ball into play, this shows no intention to handle the ball".

Tomorrow we will address Free Kicks, Quick Free Kicks, Penalties, Substitutions, Cards for Coaches and The Other Changes.
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