The 131st Annual General Meeting of The IFAB took place today at Wembley Stadium in London, and saw a new strategy approved, which will see the Laws of the Game used to increase fairness and develop the game.
The IFAB, which consists of the football associations of England (The FA), Scotland (SFA), Wales (FAW) and Northern Ireland (IFA), as well as FIFA (who represent the 207 remaining national associations) decided upon a close focus on the behaviour of players on the pitch. In particular, this could see the responsibilities of captains enhanced in order to improve on-field behaviour and create better communication between players and referees. Methods to tackle time wasting were also discussed, in response to continuing fan concern around this particular issue.
“We had a very full agenda," said IFAB Technical Director David Elleray. "We worked very hard for almost four hours, dealing with a range of things from the behaviour of players, the roles of the captain can play, through to video technology and its use in the game, through to how we continue and finalise the improvement of the Laws of the Game, so they’re more readable and clearer for everybody else because the Laws of the Game are the basis of football. We now want to make sure that the Laws help make football a better, fairer, and more enjoyable game.”
In a groundbreaking move, it was also agreed that member associations will be allowed more freedom to modify the organisational Laws of the Game. This could, for example, see more substitutions allowed and the duration of play altered in order to help develop domestic football by encouraging more people to take part. This would occur at levels below the first team of clubs in the top domestic league, or senior 'A' international games.
The use of temporary dismissals (sin bins) will now be allowed in youth, grassroots and disability football, as well as return substitutions - further adding to the remit to increase participation on a global scale.
“It was my first Annual General Meeting and I think we made good decisions for football, not only for the elite game but also for the amateur game and the youth, so I think we can be satisfied,” said FIFA Chief Officer for Technical Development, Marco van Basten.
One of the other key focuses of the AGM was the implementation of technology across football. The use of electronic communications systems by medical staff in the technical area - medical data and video material on tablet computers for example - was approved in order to assess potential injuries and increase player welfare and safety.
The AGM was also updated on the progress of the global experiments of Video Assistant Referees (VARs), with the first phase of experiments now complete. Reports from more than 20 test matches and a number of workshops were presented, with lessons learned from the initial phase to be taken into the 'live' experiments starting in almost 20 competitions from around the world throughout 2017.
“We’ve got some real experts from world football getting together [at Wembley], from fantastic former referees to fantastic former players," said Chief Executive Officer of The FA, Martin Glenn. "The whole connection between the Home Nations and FIFA really gets brought to life here. We’ve done some really good work over the last year and that’s probably the best thing about the whole event.”
The 132nd Annual General Meeting will be hosted by FIFA in February or March 2018.
The modifications to the Laws of the Game made at today’s AGM will come into effect on 1 June 2017, except for competitions which have started before that date.