The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has convened and announced tweaks to the laws of the game which will take effect in June of this year.

The debate surrounding ball to hand vs hand to ball and the natural/unnatural arm position dichotomy are just some of the things that have been clarified at this meeting.

Accidental handball will no longer escape punishment. Goals made or scored with the accidental use of the hand will not stand and a free kick will be awarded.

“In the past we’ve managed to improve the laws by focusing on outcome rather than intent.” said IFAB technical director David Elleray following the AGM in Aberdeen.

“What we are looking at particularly in attacking situations is where the player gets a clear unfair advantage by gaining possession or control of the ball, as a result of it making contact with their hand or arm.”

The other change regarding handball relates to what IFAB has dubbed the ‘natural silhouette’.

If the player’s arms extend beyond what is perceived as the ‘natural silhouette’ and the ball strikes the arm, even accidentally, handball will be given.

This tweak seems to focus more on intent rather than outcome.

“If the arms are extended beyond that silhouette then the body is being made unnaturally bigger, with the purpose of it being a bigger barrier to the opponent or the ball.” said Elleray.

“Players should be allowed to have their arms by their side because it’s their natural silhouette.”

Other changes range from set pieces, penalties, substitutions and cards for officials.

Attacking players are no longer allowed to stand in the wall at set pieces, removing the pushing and shoving which leads to split walls.

Goalkeepers must now have one foot on the line during penalties as opposed to two and goal kicks can be received inside the 18 yard box; they no longer have to leave the area.

Officials can now be carded and substitutes can leave via the closest boundary rather than at the half way line.

What do you make of these changes?

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Marissa Lordanic
marissa.lordanic@gmail.com