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Offside Law Under Review

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Before the full scale of the Covid-19 pandemic had dawned on football, the game’s law-makers gathered to debate the big issues and signed off a major review of offside rules. The International Football Association Board’s (Ifab) meeting in February looked at offside in the wake of the controversial introduction of VAR technology. Now a year-long review will consider calls to refine the definition of offside in light of marginal decisions that have frustrated those in the game.

Fifa’s head of global development, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, wants to see players ruled onside if any goal-scoring part of their body is level or behind a defender – a so-called “daylight” version of the law.

“[The daylight suggestion] has been received very positively and this is why we have decided to investigate,” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino. “The philosophy of fostering attacking football always has to guide us. We also have to be very aware and wary of tradition. It is true that now is the right time to look into it and see if we can do something positive for attacking football and providing strikers with more goalscoring opportunities.”

The Ifab committee also agreed to extensive trials of concussion substitutes to help protect players who suffer head injuries in the game. It is hoped that, by removing the incentive to keep players on the field, footballers are more likely to be rested from the action and therefore avoid a second blow to the head. Alternative protocols will be tested, including temporary subs and the permanent extra substitute suggested by the Premier League and Fifa. Trials were expected to begin during the Olympics, but that event has now been postponed due to coronavirus.

Also up for discussion was the low number of pitchside reviews undertaken by Premier League referees and measures to prevent players surrounding match officials.

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