Following consultation with key stakeholders and recommendations from the Concussion Expert Group (CEG) and The IFAB’s Football and Technical Advisory Panels (FAP-TAP), today’s Annual Business Meeting (ABM) approved extensive trials with additional permanent substitutions for actual or suspected head injuries as of January 2021.
At a meeting held by videoconference and chaired by IFAB Director and Football Association of Wales Chief Executive Jonathan Ford, The IFAB confirmed that it has agreed on the implementation of a protocol that will be the basis for the trials. The members agreed that, in the event of an actual or a suspected head injury, the player in question should be permanently removed from the match to protect their welfare, but the player’s team should not suffer a numerical disadvantage.
- Prevents a player sustaining another head injury during the match as multiple head-injury incidents can have very serious consequences;
- Sends a strong message that, if in doubt, the player is withdrawn but there is no numerical or tactical disadvantage by prioritising the player’s welfare;
- Reduces the pressure on medical personnel to make a quick assessment; and
- Is simple to operate and can be applied at all levels of the game, including most of football that is played without doctors or medically qualified staff available on site.
Today’s announcement comes after less than a year of detailed consultation with relevant stakeholders, medical concussion experts, team doctors, player representatives, coaches, competition organisers, refereeing and Laws of the Game experts.
Confederations, national football associations (FAs) and competition organisers (via their national FA) interested in participating in these trials must apply to The IFAB and FIFA. Competition organisers must ensure that the official protocol is used in its entirety and that the required feedback is submitted.
Five-substitute option extended
The Board confirmed that the temporary amendment to Law 3, which allows up to five substitutes in top-level competitions, for domestic competitions ending by 31 December 2021 and for international competitions ending by 31 July 2022. The members agreed that the on-going impact of the pandemic on football should remain under constant review so that appropriate action can be taken in the future.
Clarifications related to the Laws of The Game 2021/22 were discussed, including circumventing the deliberate pass to the goalkeeper, stoppage time and offences against outside agents.
Given that the interpretation of handball incidents has not always been consistent, the members agreed that further clarification should be considered at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). It was agreed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence. In terms of “unnaturally bigger”, referees should judge the position of the hand/arm in relation to the player’s movement in that phase of play.
The Board was also updated by FIFA on potential future practical considerations relating to offside and the latest developments with video assistant referees (VARs), in particular with future innovations that could include more affordable VAR systems to allow competition organisers with more limited budgets to be able to use VAR technology.
The ABM shapes the agenda for the AGM, where any proposed changes or amendments to the Laws of the Game are considered for approval. The next AGM will take place via videoconference on 5 March 2021.