Hopefully Malawi coaches and players have now been updated on changes to the laws of the game

I attended several pre-match meeting for the TNM Super League in the past two months and in most of them, I noticed that most of the coaches are not up to date with the new development of the changes made to the rules to the beautiful game.Duncan Logo

The officiating personnel made it known to the teams — without going through each of the 12 changes in detail because of the time factor of these meetings — and several of the coaches asked the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) to hold special sessions to go through these changes meticulously.

It was suggested at some of the pre-meetings that Sulom should try to hold such sessions during the mid-season break, which has now ended and the second round kicks off this weekend.

I pray that such sessions were conducted because some of the changes are contentious and might spread disgruntlement amongst fans if the team officials are the first to badly react to the referees’ decision.

The changes were made at the beginning of the year by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The changes came into effect at the Euro 2016. I don’t know if our team coaches and the other administrators are at breast with the world of football because by today they should have been at grips with all that has happened.

What was also suggested at these pre-match meetings is that the clubs themselves can request the referees association to appoint one of the retired referees, who act as match assessors, to visit the teams at their training sessions and teach the players some of the changes.

I think this is also a good idea. Teams are also supposed to have such refresher sessions, away from the physical training, to update themselves on the latest development.

If the players and officials are up to date with latest developments, they would not react negatively to calls from the refs and thus the fans will realise that everything is alright. But if it is vice versa, the fans think the referees are making mistakes.

I thought maybe I should share with some of the changes that have taken place.

CHANGE 1: Kick-off

As seen at Euro 2016, the ball no longer has to go forward at kick-off. The previous law stated the ball had to go into the opposition half at the restart, but it has been changed to allow it to move in any direction, as long as it “clearly moves”. This change has paved the way for one-man kick-offs, as seen at Euro 2016.

CHANGE 2: Pre-match red cards

Referees will be able to give a player a red card before the match kicks off. This allows officials to punish red-card offences (e.g. violent conduct) in the warm-up or as the two teams line up in the tunnel. The new law states a player may be sent off any time between the pre-match inspection and when the referee leaves the field at the end of the game.

CHANGE 3: An end to the ‘triple-punishment law’

The previous ‘triple-punishment’ law meant a player who denied a goal-scoring opportunity in the box was automatically red-carded and handed a suspension, as well as giving away a penalty. The law has now been changed so players committing accidental fouls that deny goal-scoring opportunities in the penalty area will not be automatically sent off, with a yellow card sufficient punishment.

As the amendment states: “When a denial of a goalscoring opportunity offence is committed by a defender in the penalty area, the penalty kick effectively restores the goalscoring opportunity so the punishment for the player should be less strong (e.g. a yellow card) than when the offence is committed outside the penalty area.

However, when the offence is handball or clearly not a genuine attempt to play or challenge for the ball, the player will be sent off.”

CHANGE 4: Treating injuries

If a player is fouled and hurt by an opponent who subsequently receives a yellow or red card for the challenge, the injured player may be quickly treated on the pitch without the need to leave the field of play. It was widely seen as unfair that a player injured by a serious foul was forced off the pitch for treatment, temporarily placing the fouled team at a numerical disadvantage.

CHANGE 5: Changing boots/equipment

A player who briefly leaves the field (e.g. to change boots) may have his new boots checked by an assistant referee or fourth official before returning to play. Previously, the player required the referee’s permission to return.

CHANGE 6: Penalties

Among several minor changes to the laws regarding penalties, potentially the most interesting is the amendment to yellow card a penalty taker who “illegally feints” once his run-up is complete. This means slowing to a stop immediately before shooting is not allowed, with a yellow card and an indirect free-kick to the opposition the result. The law does stress feinting during a run-up is still permitted.

CHANGE 7: Infringements by substitutes/team officials

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone was sent to the stands in April after a member of his backroom team threw a ball onto the pitch during a La Liga game in an attempt to interrupt an opponent’s attack. To address what was threatening to become a growing trend, the law has been changed so that if play is stopped due to interference from a team official or substitute, rather than the award of an indirect free-kick or drop ball, the referee will now award a free-kick or penalty kick to the opposition.

CHANGE 8: Colour of undergarments

The new rule states undershorts/tights must be the same colour as the main colour of the shorts or the lowest part of the shorts. This takes into account shorts with a different coloured hem. Undershirts must still be the same colour as the main colour of the shirt sleeve.

CHANGE 9: Offside

A couple of minor clarifications to the offside rule. The law now states the halfway line is neutral, meaning a player must have part of the body (excluding arms or hands) in the opponents’ half to be flagged offside. A free-kick resulting from an offside will now always take place where the offence is committed.

CHANGE 10: Handballs

In an effort to stop referees brandishing yellow cards for every handball, “preventing an opponent gaining possession” has been removed from the list of bookable offences. Handball is now a yellow card offence when “it stops/interferes with a promising attack”.

CHANGE 11: Restarts

The phrase “clearly moves” has been added to the law on restarts, meaning attempts to trick the opposition by lightly tapping the ball at a corner (or free-kick) and then dribbling will come to an end. This amendment is part of a renewed emphasis on what constitutes sporting behaviour “within the spirit of the game”.

CHANGE 12: Player behaviour

Referees have been urged to take a stronger stand on “intolerable behaviour” by players following a joint statement by the Premier League, English Football League and FA. Running to contest decisions, arguing face-to-face with officials, and “visibly disrespectful” actions will result in yellow cards.

Red cards will be issued to players who confront officials and use insulting and/or offensive language or gestures towards them.

The aim is to “reduce disrespectful conduct such as aggressively challenging decisions or running from distance to confront an official.”

I hope these come of help.

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1 thought on “Hopefully Malawi coaches and players have now been updated on changes to the laws of the game”

  1. Issa says:

    If the coaches and players are not aware then its unfortunate because its almost two months since I read these rules myself. What I see is simply lack of seriousness. But Duncan can you explain feigning in chichewa sindikumvetsa pamenepo.

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