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Penalty box, a fourth sub and longer halftimes?
by Mike Woitalla, February 11th, 2009 7AM



[REF WATCH] When soccer's rule-making body meets later this month, it will consider penalty-box time for yellow-card offenses, a fourth sub during overtime, and extended halftimes (because it can take so long to walk to the locker room!).

At its annual meeting on Feb. 28, FIFA's International Football Association Board (IFAB) will discuss a plan to experiment with punishing players who receive yellow cards by removing them from the field for a short period while their team plays short-handed, as is done in hockey and rugby.

"We are still looking into the details of how it would work but the basic idea is if someone gets a card from the referee they would be sent to a sin-bin for say five or 10 minutes as in rugby," Raymond Kennedy, president of the Irish FA, told Reuters. The Irish FA is one of the eight IFAB members, which comprise of the four British federations and four representatives from FIFA. (A three-fourth majority needed to change any rule.)

"If their team got another [card] during that period they would be down to nine men and it would certainly help improve discipline on the field," Kennedy added. "It would also cut down on a lot of paperwork and disciplinary meetings later.

"The offense would be dealt with on the day and the team offended against would be the team to benefit. I hope the board agrees to this, we see a lot of merit in it and I am hoping they sanction an experiment at youth level for a season or so,"

The Scottish FA is proposing to increase the amount of substitutes that can be used from three to four when a match goes to overtime.

The IFAB is also considering extending the maximum halftime from 15 to 20 minutes. This proposal supposedly isn't a scheme to increase TV ad opportunities, but because, according to the IFAB AGM agenda, at some stadiums the locker room is so far from the field that players spend much of the time walking there and back.

The IFAB also intends to clarify of the wording of the offside rule, because of the confusion following referee Peter Frojdfeldt's call on Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy's goal against Italy.

Van Nistelrooy appeared to be offside because Italy defender Christian Panucci was off the field, having been fallen over the goal line after a collision with a teammate. But the goal was awarded.

The new wording would read: "Any defending player leaving the field of play for any reason without the referee's permission shall, until he returns to the field ... be considered to be on his own goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside."

Soccer America columnist Paul Gardner wrote about the controversy in a June SoccerTalk column headlined: Ruud's goal: A rotten decision

Another proposal would ban players from using tape to hold their shinguards that isn't the same color as their socks.

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