PORTO (Reuters) – Changes to the laws of the soccer, which came into effect at the start of the month, will not be applied to this week’s Nations League finals but will be enforced at the women’s World Cup in France, which kicks off on Saturday.
More clarity on handball and changes to the place where substituted players have to leave the field and the position of the goalkeeper at penalty kicks were among the changes made by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in March.
The changes came into effect on June 1 but UEFA decided not to apply the rules to the Nations League, or this weekend’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The Nations League finals kick off on Wednesday in Portugal.
“In order to avoid any disruption due to limited preparation time and any resulting lack of awareness of the substantial number of changes to the Laws of the Game, UEFA has decided to time the implementation to coincide with the start of the new season,” said a statement from European football’s governing body last week.
From next season, there is more clarity around what constitutes a handball – an area of much heated debate as Saturday’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid showed.
Intent will no longer be a factor in situations involving goals or goal-scoring opportunities from next season.
“A goal scored directly from the hand/arm (even if accidental) and a player scoring or creating a goal-scoring opportunity after having gained possession/control of the ball from their hand/arm (even if accidental) will no longer be allowed,” the rule change says.
Under the new rule, players from the attacking team will have to be at least one meter away from the wall when a free kick is being taken.
IFAB also approved measures that will force players being substituted to leave the field of play at the nearest touchline rather than walk across to the team’s bench or the tunnel, in a bid to reduce time-wasting tactics.
A change to the goal kick rule will also mean the ball does not have to leave the penalty area.
In situations where the ball hits the referee a “drop ball” will be awarded and there is also a change in the laws governing goalkeeper movements at spot kicks with the keeper only being required to have one foot on the line at a penalty.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge)