KEIR RADNEDGE in CARDIFF: Football’s lawmakers, after years playing in vain with words and interpretations, believe they have finally solved the triple punishment conundrum.

Last-player defenders who commit a penalty-conceding foul are also liable to collect a red card and consequent suspension. But managers, players, fans and media complain regularly that the multiple sanction is excessive.

The annual meeting of the International Football Association Board in Cardiff has ordained a two-year worldwide trial of an eased sanction which will come into effect in June in time for the European Championship finals in France and the Copa Centenario in the United States.

This change, however, will inevitably make life tougher for referees who will have to decide whether an ill-judged lunge for the ball by a goalkeeper or defender is merely ill-timing or intended foul.

In the first instance the guilty player will be punished by a yellow and not a red card.


Chief executives of the football associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – Martin Glenn, Patrick Nelson, Stuart Regan and Jonathan Ford – plus FIFA president Gianni Infantino agreed that this was a “very fundamental change.”

Infantino said: “If the goalkeeper or defender in the penalty area tries to go to the ball there will be not generally a red card but only yellow. Another such situation is when a goalkeeper dives for the ball but the attacker just touches it beyond him and falls over the hands or arms.

“For other instances, violent play or denying a goal or pulling and pushing which have nothing to do with trying to get the ball, then it is still red.”

** IFAB has ordered further experimentation concerning the use of a fourth substitute in extra time.