WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LAWS OF FOOTBALL?

We all know that it is the responsibility of the Referee to control a soccer match by applying the Laws of the Game.

I am sure that many stakeholders in the game believe the responsibility is with the Football Association.

This article is aimed at enlightening people who are not aware of the organisation that is responsible.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is made up of the four British football associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and FIFA.

After many years in 2014 the IFAB officially became registered as an independent operation. This set off a new beginning for the association setting up its new administration, headquarters, and importantly, statutes that re-define their purpose.

They also set up a new body, The Football and Technical Advisory Panels FAP and TAP, which include members from the football world bringing in their experiences and perspectives as former players or referees.

The Law book has undergone a major overhaul, which reflects the transformation of the organisation itself. The 2016-2017 revision was a true milestone and the adopted amendments symbolised a bolder step into the future of football and the Laws of the Game.

Mission

The mission of The IFAB is to serve the world of football as the independent guardian of the Laws of the Game. As the only body authorised to decide and agree changes to the Laws of the Game, they listen to the football community, with the goal to improve and develop the game for players, match officials and fans while protecting and strengthening the spirit and simplicity of soccer.

Transparency, accountability and inclusivity are the core values of the IFAB. They serve the entire global football community, voice its views and amend the Laws of the Game accordingly, in a democratic way. The goal is to ensure the future health and stability of football while respecting the core values of the game.

Responsibilities

The IFAB regularly convenes to debate, define, manage and make amendments to the Laws of the Game. The changes can only be introduced during the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is normally held every February or March in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in rotation, as well as other locations decided by FIFA in years when the FIFA World Cup™ is held.

The IFAB works to ensure that the Laws of the Game remain fair and adapt to important changes in the game. The board acknowledges new technologies which can help to improve the game and make football fairer for all. At the same time, The IFAB believes it is essential to keep the Laws of the Game as simple and non‐intrusive as possible, in line with the true spirit of the game.

What is amazing is the makeup of the panel members that make the decisions.

The Football Association

The Football Association of Wales

The Scottish Football Association

Northern Ireland Football Association each have one vote.

FIFA Represent the remaining 207 nations and have four votes when the decision-making process kicks in on an annual basis.

The IFAB regularly convenes to debate, define, manage and make amendments to the Laws of the Game. The changes can only be introduced during the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is normally held every February or March in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in rotation, as well as other locations decided by FIFA in years when the FIFA World Cup is held.

The IFAB works to ensure that the Laws of the Game remain fair and adapt to important changes in the game. The board acknowledges new technologies which can help to improve the game and make football fairer for all. At the same time, The IFAB believes it is essential to keep the Laws of the Game as simple and non‐intrusive as possible, in line with the true spirit of the game.

First Meeting of The IFAB

The first official international football match was played by the competing teams of England and Scotland in 1872, roughly at a time when organised football had been given expression in the formation of four British football associations. It soon became evident that a common set of rules was needed to ground the Game.

The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) first met on 2 June 1886 in London, an event attended by two representatives each from the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh associations. The IFAB soon became established as the guardian of the unified Laws of the Game and tasked with preserving, monitoring, studying and amending football rules. To this day the Laws of the Game can only be changed by the IFAB.

The Laws of the Game changed significantly over time. The penalty kick and goal nets were introduced in 1891. Between 1896 and 1899 it was agreed that each team should have 11 players on the field, that a match is to last for 90 minutes and that the field ought to have the dimensions it still retains today.

There is of course continual discussion about the laws of the game and one area that often creates a problem is how individual countries interpret them.

This is a role that the IFAB with its newly found independence can police and I know that former Premier League referee David Elleray has played a major role in the role out of the Video Assistant Referee.

I was recently contacted by a journalist to ask for an opinion on what laws changes that are currently been debated.

VAR, HANDBALL and OFFSIDE ae at the forefront of debate.

Currently at grassroots level where leagues have selected to use it a SIN BIN is in operation.

The benefits of the use of the Sin BIN are been carefully monitored and we await to see if that will be brought into the Professional game.

So next time you express unease about a particular law then do not blame the Football Association.

KEITH HACKETT