KEIR RADNEDGE in BELFAST: An easing of football’s so-called ‘triple jeopardy’ rule should be in place in time for the start of next season.

The lawmaking International Football Association Board decided at its annual meeting in Northern Ireland today to seek urgently an amendment to worldwide disciplinary regulations.

The ‘triple jeopardy’ label derives from the outcome of a foul in the penalty box which provokes not only a penalty but the expulsion of the guilty player, often a goalkeeper, plus an automatic suspension of at least one game.

Managers, players and fans have all suggested this is all too drastic.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had been against altering the punishment on the pitch, in terms of an expulsion, but changing the disciplinary outcome was clearly an acceptable compromise to a problem which has exercised IFAB for several years.

Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the Irish Football Association which hosted the IFAB agm, said: “IFAB agree that this punishment is too harsh and that we must find a solution.

“There was a proposal put forward by UEFA that the referee should issue a yellow card and not a red card and this was rejected by IFAB. But after significant debate IFAB agreed in principle that one of the elements may be removed and this should be automatic suspension for the next game.

” IFAB has tasked FIFA to look at this matter and investigate administratively theĀ  removal of the automatic one-match suspension. FIFA will submit proposals for potential changes to the disciplinary code to the March meeting of the executive committee.

“There is a will to move rapidly on this matter.”

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said that he would task the FIFA legal commission to investigat how quickly a disciplinary change could be enacted throughout the game worldwide. He hoped it would be possible in time for approval from the next meeting of FIFA’s executive meeting on March 18-20.

In that case the reduction of ‘triple jeopardy’ could come into force, as per all IFAB decisions, from July 1.

Other issues

** Return substitutions – informally but incorrectly termed ‘rolling substitutions’ – have been approved worldwide for grassroots, amateur football. This followed successful two-year experiments by the Football Association and the Scottish FA which generated a significant increase in participation levels.

** A proposal for a fourth substitute was rejected and a proposal for a fourth substitute in extra time was referred back to the IFAB advisory panels for further assessment;

** Electronic tracking of performance levels during games has been approved in principal as long as the data is not made available to anyone in the technical area during a match.

** A United States federation proposal for the introduction of automated timekeeping of matches was rejected.

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