This month’s edition of FIFA WORLD has a very interesting article on the oldest international organisation in world football – the International Football Association Board which was founded in 1886 by the four British associatoions. This year the IFAB will celebrate its 125th birthday.

The world in 1886 was a very different place. The Statue of Liberty was soon to be erected in New York and an American pharmacist called Dr John Stith Pemberton had just started selling a new carbonated drink which he called Coca Cola.

The IFAB has remained for 125 years as the guardian of the Laws of the Game. There have been some changes in its structure over the years, most importantly in 1913 when FIFA became a member. but while the Board has embraced developments in the Laws over the years, it has provided the game with a stability against the demands of excessive change.

In 1891 the penalty kick was introduced while in 1912 goalkeepers were banned from handling the ball outside the penalty area and in 1920 a player was not penalised for being offside if he received the ball from a throw-in.

Today major changes to the Laws are not introduced without experiment and detailed evaluation to make sure they meet the needs of football.

The Laws must evolve to meet the needs of the modern game for example Law 11 Offside was changed in 1992 in the interests of attacking play so that a player level with the second last defender was now onside. Two years later goalkeepers were not allowed to handle back passes and the Golden Goal was introduced only to be scrapped in 2004.

Substitutes were first introduced in the 1970 World Cup and in 1995 three substitutes were allowed instead of two.

The fear that the game was becoming too violent resulted in the introduction in 1998 of the red card for tackles from behind which endanger the safety of an opponent. Later this was amended to include all tackles,

There are many examples of how the game has evolved and how the Laws have adjusted to keep in tune with the evolutions.

The highest profile matter at the moment is goal line technology and a number of companies have demonstrated their ideas on how to introduce technology without undermining the role of the referee. The successful technologies must send a direct signal to the referee, not pass it through a third person. The IFAB will discuss the results at its meeting in Wales next month.

It may be the elder statesman of world football but is still a vibrant, hard working and vital component in making football the global phenomenon that it is.

So it’s Happy Anniversary IFAB and here’s to the next 125 years.

  • Share/Bookmark