Football fans who keep a close eye on the upcoming England friendlies in May could notice some important changes in the rules.
Although the new laws don’t officially come into effect until June 1, England has agreed with the International Football Association Board to have them implemented before that.
Here are the main ones to look out for:
- No more “triple punishments” — Genuine attempts to play the ball by “last line of defence” players such as defenders or goalies, which bring down opponents, will no longer result in automatic red cards, penalties, and player suspensions. Yellow cards with no suspensions will be used instead unless the foul was particularly brutal or there was a handball.
- More water breaks — Perhaps anticipating the temperatures of the upcoming Qatar World Cup, players will be permitted a brief time-out to drink some water in particularly hot playing conditions.
- No more fake penalty kicks — A favourite tactic of Lionel Messi, sending the keeper diving the wrong way with a pretend “pre-kick” is no longer allowed. Penalty takers must now follow through with their penalty kicks in one movement.
- Pre-match bad behaviour can be punished — Previously the game would have to start before a player could be sent off by the referee, but now bad behaviour, for instance in the warm-up period, can result in a red card before the match even begins.
- Players don’t have to leave the pitch to get treatment — If a player is fouled enough to warrant a card, they can receive a brief spell of treatment on the pitch. Previously they would have to be stretchered off.
- Kick offs can now go backwards — Traditionally the ball would have to be passed forward, but now it can go in any direction as long as one other player is in the centre circle.
Although not scheduled for Euro 2016, another future rule change could be penalty goals.
When Luis Suarez blocked a certain goal with his hands on the goal line in the Argentina-Ghana match in the 2010 World Cup, he was sent off and Ghana was given a penalty (which they missed). Under the proposed new law such an act would result in an instant goal for the other team.
England will play Turkey on May 22 and Australia on May 27. Their final game before the tournament is against Portugal on June 2.