NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINargentinaARGENTINAchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOperuPERUlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA

IFAB, British power, triple punishment and technology


The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body in charge of the rules of the game of football, and it's been doing its job exquisitely up to a few years ago. Decisions are made on the strength of eight votes, four from the British Associations and four from FIFA, so the British have within their remit the power to block any change. A bow to the founders. Football was born on the British Isles, after all, and these four Football Associations existed before FIFA: IFAB was founded in 1886. Not everyone approves of the level of control these four bodies have, but I do. The rules of football are simple and stable and things have been going very well like that.

Things have begun to change in the last few years, however. When they introduced the rule that a player is sent off for a foul that stops 'a clear goalscoring opportunity', they did it without due consideration. It was applied to fouls not only outside the area, as many claimed that a simple free-kick was insufficient, but also inside the area, where the maximum punishment of a penalty already existed. Penalty, expulsion and suspension. It became known as the 'triple punishment', excessive in my view. The penalty is enough. Happily, they have corrected this, along with other measures.

What's happened is that the rules were changed, then changed back, which can create confusion. Also, in making every player leave the pitch for every single injury, with the aim of avoiding simulation and timewasting, now the player doesn't have to leave the pitch if the tackle warranted a card. Another reverse. In the same session, IFAB opened a tiny crack in the door to take a peak at using revisionary technology in football. Despite its successful introduction into other sports, not everyone agrees that it will improve this one. Personally, I prefer human refereeing. Honorably performed, properly trained and chosen on merit, of course. Now there we have some room for improvement.