Revolutions are momentous events, for example the French Revolution of 1789 or the Russian Revolution of 1905.

1990 was a revolutionary year in football in a number of ways. The FIFA World Cup Italia ‘90 saw the introduction of a red card for deliberately preventing a goal or a goal scoring opportunity and was also the last time that FIFA Referees were appointed to act as linesmen in the tournament.

1990 also saw a major change to Law 11 Offside when the International FA Board decided that in order to favour attacking football, a player who was level with the second last defender would not now be considered offside.

If these changes in football in 1990 were revolutionary, they were nothing in comparison to the revolutionary changes which took place 99 years earlier in 1891. This was the year of real football revolution following the meeting of the International FA Board in Glasgow, Scotland on 2nd June.

 As football became a professional game and its ethos changed from the amateur ‘the game for the game’s sake’ to the professional ‘win at all costs’ attitude, referees found themselves without a suitable punishment for offences near goal. The penalty kick, ‘or kick of death’ was the answer, taken from any point on a line 12 yards from the goal.

At this time there was no penalty area – this was not introduced until 1902 – and in fact the field markings that we know today were not completed until 1932 when the arc of the circle, 9.15m from the penalty mark was added.

The first introduction of ‘goal line technology’ also took place in 1891 when the crossbar replaced the tape and nets were introduced.

The major feature of the 1891 football revolution, however, was the role of the referee. Until 1891 he was positioned at the side of the field. The match was controlled by two umpires, one appointed by each team, who referred to him if they disagreed – hence we have the name ‘referee.’

1n 1891 he became a field person and the umpires became linesmen.

Football’s match control system had been established.

The football revolutionaries of 1891 had a major affect on the game throughout the world – they are alongside those who took to the streets of Paris and Moscow in 1789 and 1905.

  • Share/Bookmark