I always have some concern when coaches demand changes to the Laws of the Game.

Basically they want to maximise the benefits for their teams, which is totally understandable.

It is a fact, however, that many of the recent changes to the Laws of the Game have been necessary because of the failure of the coaches to control their players and because of their desire to stretch the Laws to the limit.

The International FA Board Decision outlawing the tackle from behind was necessary, not because it was the opinion of some uninformed lawmakers, but because the game had become increasingly violent and action had to be taken.

Simulation, or more correctly cheating, had to be addressed because it had become so widespread – and still is.

Coaches are still prepared to complain bitterly when an opposing player successfully deceives the referee while they accept it as part of the game when it is one of their own players who gains an advantage by cheating.

The recent meeting of the FIFA Task Force 2014 – one of a number now created – and chaired by Franz Beckenbauer, has decided that a clear understandable rule is required for Law 11 – Offside. Suggestions to be made by its next meeting.

Offside is a very technical Law but it is essential to the structure of the game. I think its application is just about right since it tries to favour the attacking team. It is one of the shortest Laws in the Laws of the Game but it will continue to be the most controversial, no matter what proposal the Task force come up with.

My main concern, however, is the suggestion that the red card for denying a goal or a goal scoring opportunity inside the penalty area should be changed because of the Task Force’s belief that it involves a triple punishment – penalty kick, red card and suspension.

A player who prevents an obvious goal scoring opportunity by a challenge inside the penalty area which is not considered serious foul play would only receive a yellow card and the opposing team would be awarded a penalty kick.

The group agreed that the red card and penalty punishment will remain for any outfield player who stops a goal on the goal line by using his hand, whereas any other simple fouls in the penalty area should only be sanctioned with a penalty and a yellow card.

This approach is totally inconsistent.

For example why should a tackle inside the penalty area which prevents a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity only receive a yellow card while a handball which prevents a goal be punished by a red card?

The Task Force say, and I quote, “the aim is make it easier for referees to ensure uniform and fairer decisions.”


The suggestion is made by coaches to ensure that they do not get players sent off and subsequently suspended, not for any consideration of referees.

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