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A look at the changes to the laws of football - part two

Second special column on amendments to the laws of the game

12 June 2019

From 1 June, 12 changes to the laws of football came in to force. The changes cover many aspects of the game and will be seen at Griffin Park when the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship season starts in August. Guest columnist Ken Goldman has been having a look at some of them. Part one of his analysis can be seen here and the second, and final, part is below.

There are massive changes to both the drop ball and handball laws and another minor one at penalties.

As to the drop ball, the following will occur when play is stopped. When it is inside the penalty area the ball will be dropped for the goalkeeper; whereas if it is outside the ball will be dropped for one player of the team who last touched it at the point the game stopped. All other players of both teams must be four meters away. Separately if the ball touches the referee and is deflected into the goal a dropped ball is awarded. 

After years of writing trying to get this Law changed to properly codify the same, at last something has been done to solve the problem as to who has control at a drop ball. It was deemed that the referee was not allowed to decide, but nevertheless still often told the players to kick it to the opposition out of fairness, or one of the teams decided to do that themselves making the referee look nonplussed. These changes now avoid that confusion.

The only problem which could have been avoided relates to the distance away from the ball at the drop. Another distance from the ball has been introduced so we now have the standard 9.5 meters at kick-offs and free kicks (including penalties); two meters at throw-ins; and four meters at the drop. 

Handball receives the biggest revision so from next season the following handball situations even where accidental will be punished.

  • The ball going into goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm. 
  • A player gains control/possession of the ball after it touches their hand/arm and then scores or creates a goalscoring opportunity.

These two situations have always caused a problem because the referee never wants to be against the Law as it has been from time immemorial. However when writing about this subject I have always referred to what I have called Ken Aston’s Law after that great referee and law deviser, that the goal should be disallowed as he always advocated that it was against the spirit of the Laws. 

  • The ball touches a player’s hand/arm where that has made the player’s body unnaturally bigger. 
  • The ball touches the player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder.

Once more these are sensible and much needed changes and there is further clarification as to which accidentals will not be punished. These include when the ball hits a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head, body, or foot; or the like from another player who is too close; where the hand/arm is close to the body and has not made them unnaturally bigger; a player falling, touches the ball with hand/arm between their body and the ground while supporting their body.

The main really contentious alteration has come with regard to the taking of the penalty kick.The change now allows the goalkeeper the right to have only part of one foot instead of two on or in line with the goal-line when the kick is being taken. The reason for this change is that the kicker is allowed to stutter in his/her run up so it is reasonable to allow the keeper one step in anticipation of the kick.

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