The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has announced that adjustments have been made to the laws of the game ahead of the 2020-21 season, perhaps the most interesting being what should and should not be characterized as a handball offense in construction. -until a goal.
Currently, Video Assistant Referees (VARs) will refuse a goal and remove play for a free kick if an attacking player is deemed to have touched the ball with the hand or arm during preparation, by accident or otherwise, leading to teams who feel abused if an individual gets in the way through no fault of their own.
For clarity, a handball offense is characterized by the ball touching anywhere from a player’s fingertips to his arm, directly in line with the lower armpit – which essentially means that anything below the shoulder is a fault.
A plethora of teams have seen goals cut off in recent times due to accidental handballs, but the new rules for the coming season will give attackers more leeway.
An IFAB statement reads: “‘Accidental’ handball by an attacking player (or teammate) is only penalized if it occurs ‘immediately’ before a goal or a clear opportunity to score a goal .
“If an attacking player accidentally touches the ball with his hand or arm and the ball then passes to another attacking player and the attacking team immediately scores, it is a handball offense.
“It is not an offense if, after an accidental hand, the ball travels a certain distance (passing or dribbling) and / or if there are several passes before the goal or the opportunity to score. “
Other updates to the Laws of the Game include goalposts and crossbars, which can now be a combination of the four basic approved shapes: square, rectangular, round or elliptical – provided they aren’t dangerous .
In addition, goalies will not be penalized for leaving their line prematurely during the penalty shootout provided the shooter misses or sees his shot rebound in play – assuming the goalkeeper is not deemed to have affected the shooter. .
If a goalkeeper is deemed to have committed a penalty foul, he will receive a warning for the first and a yellow card for subsequent fouls.