EDINBURGH: Additional permanent concussion substitutions are being formalised in football’s laws but implementation will be up to individual competitions to implement, the law-making International Football Association Board decided at the annual meeting in Loch Lomond.

Trials for using sin bins as a punishment for dissent and tactical offences will continue to be refined.

IFAB announced changes and clarifications for the sport’s laws, with the additional permanent concussion substitution law coming into effect from July 1 and they also confirmed additional trials.

Ian Maxwell, ceo of the hosting Scottish Football Association, said: “Regarding permanent concussion substitutions, the trial we’ve run is effectively concluded and that is now enshrined in the laws of the game.

“It will be up to competitions to determine if they want to use permanent concussion substitutions as per the protocol.”

The protocol allows a team to replace a player with a suspected head injury without it counting towards their allocation of substitutes.

Sin bins, where players are sent off for 10 minutes as in rugby, have been a sore subject for Premier League managers while FIFA President Gianni Infantino said they were “completely opposed to blue cards” to send players to sin bins.

Mark Bullingham, ceo of England’s FA, said they were still refining the protocol at grassroots levels.

He added: “When we announced everything in November, there was no backlash but there was quite a lot of support for sin bins.

“For some reason the Premier League managers thought it would apply to them, that wasn’t the intention. We’ve said: ‘Let’s get the protocol right’ before we move it up the pyramid. We need to get it right away from the pressure of the cameras and the fans.”

Maxwell said the introduction of sin bins was an effort to eradicate bad behaviour.

“We’ve seen referees right across the game and the abuse they get is unacceptable,” he added.

The IFAB confirmed trials below the top two tiers to improve behaviour with only a team’s captain allowed to approach the referee.

The time limit for goalkeepers holding the ball will also be increased to eight seconds in a trial, with possession reverting to the opposing team if they hold on to it for longer. The current law allows them to hold the ball for six seconds.

“We’re seeing an increasing trend and time being wasted in the game,” Maxwell said.

“It’s certainly a difficult situation under the current laws for the referees to manage, there’s a reluctance to administer fouls for that.”

IFAB statement:

IFAB approves permanent concussion substitutes among several changes to the Laws of the Game
—- The IFAB approved several changes to and clarifications of the Laws of the Game relating to players in relation to permanent concussion substitutes, player equipment, fouls and misconduct, and penalty kicks during its 138th Annual General Meeting (AGM), hosted by the Scottish Football Association at Loch Lomond, Scotland.

Detailed protocols for three trials in domestic competitions below the top two tiers aimed at improving participant behaviour were approved, namely: Only a team’s captain being able to approach the referee in certain situations.The introduction of cooling-off periods to allow the referee to require teams to go to their own penalty area.Increasing the time limit for the goalkeepers holding the ball to eight seconds, otherwise possession will revert to the opposing team.The current guidelines to temporary dismissals in youth and grassroots football were improved. Any potential wider application will only be considered once the impact of these changes have been reviewed. 

The IFAB decided to extend FIFA’s trial where the referee publicly announces the final decisions and the reasoning after a video assistant referee (VAR) review or lengthy VAR check to other competitions. Participating competitions will require permission from The IFAB and will have to commit to following FIFA’s refereeing and technology guidelines.

Changes and clarifications for the Laws of the Game 2024/25

The next edition of the Laws of the Game, which will come into effect on 1 July 2024, will feature the following changes and clarifications:Law 3 (The Players): Additional permanent concussion substitutions to be a competition option in accordance with the necessary protocol.Law 3 (The Players) and Law 4 (The Players’ Equipment): Each team must have a team captain who wears an identifying armband.Law 4 (The Players’ Equipment): Players are responsible for the size and suitability of their shinguards, which remain a compulsory part of their equipment.Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct): Handball offences that are not deliberate, and for which penalties are awarded, are to be treated in the same way as other fouls.Law 14 (The Penalty Kick): Part of the ball must touch or overhang the centre of the penalty mark, and encroachment by outfield players will be penalised only if it has an impact.Although the changes will take effect from 1 July 2024, competitions starting before that date may implement them earlier or delay their implementation until no later than the start of the subsequent competition.

Other topics

FIFA confirmed that it would launch a global campaign to raise awareness of how to recognise the symptoms of concussion and treat it appropriately, while The IFAB also requested relevant medical data analyses to be provided to the subsequent AGM in line with the amendment to Law 3 regarding this topic. 

In addition, members received an update on The FA’s trials with body cameras at grassroots level and with a ban on “deliberate heading” at U-12 level and below. The IFAB also received an update on the offside trial which has been undertaken at U-18 level in Italy, and agreed to further trials.

The AGM, which was chaired and hosted by the Scottish FA, was also attended by representatives from FIFA, The FA, the Irish FA, the FA of Wales and The IFAB administration. At the meeting, FIFA Secretary General ad interim Mattias Grafström was confirmed as the new chair of The IFAB’s Board of Directors.