Alex Horne leads FA delegation at the IFAB gathering

Wednesday 26 Nov 2014
The IFAB met at the Europa Hotel in Belfast

Alex Horne welcomed the positive reception for an FA-backed trial on rolling substitutes in grassroots football at the annual business meeting of The IFAB.

The FA General Secretary travelled to Belfast for the two-day gathering of global football’s lawmakers in which England were represented alongside the other three home nations and FIFA. 

For the first time, two new bodies were in action – a technical panel representing match officials and a football panel made up of experts from across the world. 

Both will report back to the IFAB on the key issues around the laws of the game.

Speaking on Tuesday, Horne said: “It was good to get different voices from football together to remind us why we are here. 

What is the IFAB

  • Stands for International Football Association Board
  • Meets to discuss and decide upon proposed alterations to the Laws of the Game
  • FIFA and the UK-based associations can propose matters to be discussed and ratified at the AGM
  • Two new bodies joined this most recent meeting
  • ABM can consider general business submitted to the Board by any of the continental confederations or any of FIFA's 208 Member Associations
  • It does not have the authority to alter the Laws of the Game

"We are representing the 209 countries and it is useful to debate some of the really tricky things like 'triple punishment' with different people in the room. 

"When you start debating these things you can see how difficult they are to solve.”

Triple punishment – whereby a team is punished three times for a player denying a goalscoring opportunity in the penalty area with a penalty, red card and suspension – has long been discussed by IFAB but a clear solution has so far failed to materialise. 

"One real positive step forward though was support for The FA’s trial on rolling substitutes in recreational football, dubbed by FIFA as a 'resounding success'.

Horne said the measure – which has also been backed by the Scottish FA – was a significant way of getting more participation at grassroots level. 

The trial, which has been running for three years in 255 leagues, means teams are able to send players on and off during matches.

This gives more chance for people to play on parks' pitches and get involved rather than being left on the sidelines week after week.

“From our perspective rolling subs got a very good airing. We and the Scottish FA recognise the value of the pilot. 

"We still need to establish if there is definition that works globally, especially in countries where there is no professional or even amateur football at the level we have.

“It is an important idea. It keeps players involved and clubs going and also protects the integrity of leagues. 

"It is quite a good rule for players coming back from injury as you can manage how long they get as part of their rehabilitation.”

The IFAB was sceptical about plans to look again at the increased use of video technology. 

No member was convinced that the certainty of goal-line technology yet applies to camera systems elsewhere on the pitch. It will also be revisited in the New Year.

“It is an important idea. It keeps players involved and clubs going and also protects the integrity of leagues.”

Alex Horne On rolling subs

Law 12, with respect to handling the ball, and the use of electronic performance monitoring systems was also discussed.

The IFAB was in support of the recommendation by the FIFA Medical Committee and others with regard to the three-minute break for concussions, but decided there was no need to incorporate it into the Laws of the Game.

The aim of the ABM was to further discuss and analyse ideas for potential changes to the Laws of the Game, which can then be put forward to the following AGM – the only time when amendments to the Laws can be made.  

This included the use of “sin bins” in recreational youth football and Law 11 – Offside, which are all expected to be discussed at the next AGM.

Aside from the matters discussed, there is still the possibility for any of FIFA’s member associations to submit new ideas for proposed alterations, requests for experimentation or any other items for discussion at the next by the deadline of 1 December 2014. 

The 129th IFAB agm will take place in Belfast between 27 February and 1 March 2015.

By Greg Demetriou