Soccer

A closer look at football’s new trials agreed by the IFAB

Trials will be open initially to competitions up to and including a country’s third-tier league.

Referees will be able to signal to create captain-only zones in a new trial published by the game’s lawmakers
Referees will be able to create captain-only zones in a new trial published by the game's lawmakers Referees will be able to signal to create captain-only zones in a new trial published by the game’s lawmakers (Martin Rickett/PA)

Two new trials to improve player behaviour and one aimed at reducing time-wasting have been approved by the game’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board.

Here the PA news agency looks at what we know, with the full detail of the protocols set to be published in the coming days.

All three trials will initially be open to competitions up to and including a country’s third tier, so as high as League One in English football.

CAPTAIN-ONLY ZONES

Referees will be able to create a captain-only zone around them within a new trial
Referees will be able to create a captain-only zone around them within a new trial Referees will be able to create a captain-only zone around them within a new trial (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The referee can create a captain-only zone at any stage, but it is most likely to be used following major decisions and to prevent significant confrontations, and situations where a referee feels intimidated or threatened. Once created, no players other than team captains will be allowed to enter.

Any other player entering the zone should be cautioned for dissent.

COOLING-OFF PERIOD

Referees will be able to order a cooling-off period where mass confrontations occur
Referees will be to order a cooling-off period where mass confrontations occur Referees will be able to order a cooling-off period where mass confrontations occur (Richard Heathcote/NMC Po/PA)

Referees in competitions which adopt the trial will be able to suspend play in the event of significant confrontations and initiate an official cooling-off period.

Once the referee has called for a cooling-off period, players must go to their respective penalty areas, or another area as indicated by the referee.

THE EIGHT-SECOND RULE

Goalkeepers will be able to hold on to the ball for eight seconds instead of six under a new trial
Goalkeepers will be able to hold on to the ball for eight seconds instead of six under a new trial Goalkeepers will be able to hold on to the ball for eight seconds instead of six under a new trial (Richard Sellers/PA)

In this trial, goalkeepers will be able to hold onto the ball for eight seconds instead of six. Competitions operating the trial will be able to opt for one of two choices of restart – the opposing team having a corner or a throw-in.

Currently goalkeepers who hold on for longer than six seconds should be penalised with the award of an indirect free-kick in the penalty area to the opposing team. The IFAB has received feedback that the six-second rule is rarely enforced because it is felt that the sanction is too extreme, and over the difficulty of managing an indirect free-kick in the 18-yard box.

Referees will count down the final five seconds on the fingers of one hand to clearly signal to goalkeepers how long they have left.