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What is a sin bin? MLS could be first league to trial dissent punishment

Sporting lawmakers IFAB have backed proposals that would see players temporarily removed from the field to clamp down on poor behaviour.

MLS could be first league to introduce sin bins
Katie StratmanUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

MLS could be the first professional league to trial sin bins after the measure was approved by lawmakers.

On Tuesday the International Football Association Board (IFAB) met to discuss proposals to improve player conduct and respect for match officials. Lawmakers approved a trial program for sin bins, the temporary dismissals used in the NFL, for dissent and tactical fouls.

IFAB’s decision will allow trials to be conducted in the 2024/25 season, clearing the way for sin bins to be adopted in the laws of the game. The next season of MLS is expected to begin in late February 2024, meaning that it could be the first league in the world to trial the new measures.

Will MLS introduce sin bins?

Tuesday’s news means that competition organisers can now start preparations for the introduction of sin bins, with the likely possibility of implementing the new punishment next year.

The MLS’ calendar year schedule means that it could be the first soccer league to take advantage of the new powers. Publicly the league has insisted that there is “no current timeline” for the introduction of sin bins, but the subject is being considered by league officials.

MLS is eager to crack down on players pressuring officials.
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MLS is eager to crack down on players pressuring officials. Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

A spokesperson from MLS told The Athletic: “We intend to review and discuss the initiatives shared yesterday by IFAB for potential consideration in MLS or MLS NEXT Pro.”

In the past MLS Next Pro has been used a a testing ground for new protocols. Officials have already utilised a timed substitution rule and off-field treatment requirements in a bid to cut down on time-wasting.

How would sin bins work in soccer?

The idea of a temporary removal is not a new one, but there are still many questions about how it would be used in soccer. One of the largest trials of sin bins came in England, where the Football Association introduced the punishment for amateur games.

In England players guilty of dissent were placed in the sin bin for ten minutes, forcing them to return to their team’s technical area or simply watch from the touchline. Once the ten minutes had elapsed the referee would then wave them back onto the field of play, as is done for players who leave the field to receive treatment.

If the player received a second sin bin sanction within the same game they are removed from the field of play again. This time they may not return after ten minutes, but the team can make a substitution once the period has elapsed. If the team had no remaining substitutions they must remain with ten men.

Sin bins are expected to cover only a certain range of offences, largely related to dissent and tactical fouls. IFAB is eager to cut down on these areas and sin bins could act as a crucial deterrent.