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Sin bins to be trialled in professional football as part of new IFAB law proposals

At its Annual Business Meeting (ABM) held in London on Tuesday, IFAB focused on measures to improve participant behaviour in football and increase respect for match officials; it was agreed sin bins for dissent and specific tactical offences should be trialled at higher levels

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Sky Sports News chief news reporter Kaveh Solhekol provides an update on the latest IFAB discussions where the focus is on player behaviour and. in particular, the crackdown on dissent, introducing sin bins and a review on VAR

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has approved proposed trials whereby only the team captain may approach the referee and for sin bins to be tested at a higher level.

The measures aim to improve participant behaviour in football and increase respect for officials.

The proposals were supported at the IFAB's Annual Business Meeting (ABM) in London on Tuesday.

A proposed trial where only the team captain can approach the referee "in certain major game situations" was given the green light.

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FA chief executive Mark Bullingham and former referee Pierluigi Collina explain their aim to change the culture in football and to clamp down on poor behaviour

It was also agreed sin bins "for dissent and specific tactical offences" should be trialled at higher levels following their successful implementation in grassroots football.

Sin bins were introduced across all levels of grassroots football from the 2019/20 season in an attempt to to improve levels of respect and fair play in the game.

The rule change was implemented up to step five of the National League system and tier three and below in women's football.

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Further trials are to be developed on the stricter application of the laws of the game against players and coaches who demonstrate disrespectful conduct and the better management of mass confrontations.

What IFAB discussed at the ABM

Heung-min Son talks to referee Michael Oliver
Image: Heung-min Son talks to referee Michael Oliver

The ABM discussed potential strategies to address time-wasting tactics, including the six-second restriction for goalkeepers, delaying restarts and managing injuries. The members agreed any new VAR measures should not result in any additional delays.

It also considered potential clarifications for next season's laws, including a possible amendment to Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct), in which handball offences for penalties would be sanctioned in the same way as fouls.

The ABM agreed on continuing to develop semi-automated offside technology to assist on-field match officials to speed up offside decisions.

It was also agreed that, after the VAR decision communication trial conducted by FIFA, in which the referee announces the final decision after a VAR review, the ABM should consider including this effective measure in the laws of the game.

The members were also updated on the successful trial involving match officials wearing body cameras at grassroots level, which was introduced to deter serious misconduct incidents towards officials.

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Sky Sports News chief news reporter Kaveh Solhekol explains the role of the International Football Association Board and what potential law changes they are proposing

'Sin bins have worked very, very well in the grassroots of the game'

Tuesday's meeting in London will shape the agenda for the organisation's annual general meeting, which will be held on March 2 in Glasgow, where any proposed changes to the laws of the game will be considered for approval. Protocols and a system for trialling will now be developed.

Board member Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the Football Association, said: "When we were looking at sin bins - protocol clearly has to be developed - the areas we were looking at were dissent, where it's worked very, very well in the grassroots game in England.

"We've also spoken about other areas, particularly tactical fouls.

"I think frustration for fans watching games when they see a promising counter-attack that's ruined by that and the question of whether a yellow card is sufficient for that has led to us looking at whether that should be involved in the protocol as well.

"The starting point was looking at player behaviour and dissent - we're then looking at whether we should extend it into other areas, such as tactical fouls, as well."

Merson Says: Sin bins would kill the Premier League

Sky Sports' Paul Merson:

"You put someone in the sin bin in football for 10 minutes, you're killing the game. You'd get 10 players sitting behind the ball the whole time, it'd be the most boring football ever. It's an absolute waste of time, a waste of time.

"Everybody loves the Premier League, you have a shot at one end and there's a corner up the other end 30 seconds later. That just goes out the window for this 10 minutes, the team with the man down have got no choice but to sit behind the ball.

"All they'd be doing then for that 10 minutes is taking their time over taking a throw-in, they'll take a goal kick, they'll buy a foul, and it'll just grind out the worst 10 minutes you could imagine.

"You're playing in the biggest league in the world, there's going to be emotions, they get high - that's the way it is. You're playing to win, everybody wants to win. The thing they need to really get rid of is cheating."

IFAB keen to improve player behaviour

Arsenal's Kai Havertz is shown a yellow card for a foul on Newcastle United's Sean Longstaff
Image: Arsenal's Kai Havertz is shown a yellow card for a foul on Newcastle United's Sean Longstaff

IFAB secretary Lukas Brud spoke exclusively to Sky Sports as part of our Future of Football series in the summer and explained player behaviour was one of three of the main topics on IFAB's agenda for the future along with technology and player welfare.

"One of the main topics we are looking into at the moment is improved participant behaviour on and around the field of play," Brud told Sky Sports back in July. "We want to find a way to improve the behaviour of all participants because of the retention of referees, and motivating referees to participate in the game and become referees is decreasing.

"We need to find a way of making sure there are enough referees, that they are being respected and that they can work properly on the field of play."

Future of Football Rule changes: What's on IFAB's radar? Behaviour, time-wasting & consistency
Future of Football Rule changes: What's on IFAB's radar? Behaviour, time-wasting & consistency

Player behaviour, technology and player welfare are three of the main topics on the International Football Association Board agenda for the future.

Player behaviour was a theme throughout last season with 15 of the 20 Premier League clubs fined at least once for failing to control their players.

Brud went on to explain the sin bin was on of the ideas that could help with player behaviour.

"There are a number of ideas on the table in relation to player behaviour," he said. "The sin bin is certainly one of them.

"We are going to create a working group at IFAB, with different stakeholders in the game, to see what kind of ideas could be introduced into the game or trialled at least.

"The temporary dismissal is certainly one of them because it is already being applied at some lower levels of the game. But whether it might be trialled at the top level of the game or not, this is something we will be discussing over the next couple of years."

'Something we could see in football in next couple of years'

Sky Sports News chief news reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

"The meeting that took place at Heathrow was focused on player behaviour.

"What we are going to see in the future is more trials of having sin bins in football.

"In certain situations, like dissent, if a player is rude to a referee the referee can send him to the sin bin for say 10 minutes.

"Also, in other situations, like tactical fouls, the referee would have the power to send the player to the sin bin.

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As part of the Future of Football series, we mocked up an 11-a-side game and, following a survey taken by 7,000 fans, changed six major rules of football, including no heading, power plays, and goals counting double from outside the box

"What is also going to be trialled more is something they have in rugby union where in certain situations only a team captain is allowed to approach and speak to the referee.

"IFAB are very concerned about player behaviour and also the behaviour of managers as well. They think trialling the captain being the only person allowed to talk to the referee could cut down on dissent and bad behaviour.

"There has already been trials of sin-bins at grass-roots level. I think we will see more trials at amateur level and also competitions and leagues are going to be able to have these trials and take part in them, if we want.

"I think this is really something we could see in football over the next year or two because the behaviour of players and manager towards referees is something the lawmakers of the game are really concerned about. It affects the way people at grass roots football interact and treat referees.

"We've seen a real problem with trying to get people into refereeing because they don't want the hassle. They don't want to be shouted at and abused, and in rare cases physically attacked, at all levels of football."

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