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IFAB announces law changes, softening punishment for fouls inside the box

Chelsea's Oscar (front) is fouled by Watford's Sebastian Prodl (back)
Image: Accidental fouls inside the box will not be an automatic sending-off

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has published changes to the laws of the game for the 2016/17 season, the most notable altering sending-off offences inside the penalty area and England are set to trial them in their pre-Euro 2016 friendlies.

The previous 'triple-punishment' rule meant that a player who denied a goal-scoring opportunity was automatically red-carded and handed a suspension, as well as giving away a penalty.

However, the law has now changed so that players committing accidental fouls, that deny a goal-scoring opportunity, are not automatically sent off, but cautioned instead.

Players will still be sent off for holding, pulling or pushing, not playing the ball or having no possibility to play the ball, serious foul play, violent conduct or deliberate handball.

Referees' powers have also been extended so that they can send off a player before kick-off, from the official's pre-match pitch inspection onwards.

Simon Francis (L) of Bournemouth is shown a red card by referee Andre Marriner after fouling Leicester's Jamie Vardy
Image: Red cards will still be shown for a number of offences inside the box

Announced in April, the new laws also state the ball will be able to move in any direction from kick-off, rather than only move forward.

Players who are injured by a challenge punishable by a yellow or red card can now have quick treatment on the field, rather than having to leave, which previously gave the offending team temporary numerical advantage.

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The IFAB announced last month their intentions to change the laws following a comprehensive, 18-month review, led by former English Premier League referee David Elleray.

The game's law-making body also unanimously approved the revision, which they identified as a 'once in a generation' opportunity to address anomalies and inconsistencies in the laws.

It was recently revealed that England's friendlies leading up to Euro 2016 will be the first games to feature the new laws.

The changes do not come into effect until June 1, however, the Football Association has agreed with their Turkish, Australian and Portuguese counterparts to use them in their friendlies on May 22, 27 and June 2 respectively.

Meanwhile, the IFAB has also approved a two-year trial period of video technology to assist referees, to be used in four cases: to determine if a goal has been scored, red cards, penalties and mistaken identity.

And the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has announced it has been selected for the video technology trial following a meeting in London last week.

FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio said: "We were among the first supporters of using technology on the pitch and we believe we have everything required to offer our contribution to this important experiment."

Tests initially will be in private before moving to a live pilot phase with replay assistance by the 2017/18 season at the latest, the IFAB decided last month.

Thirteen countries had been interested in trialling the scheme, including England and Scotland.

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