The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the governing body responsible for football Laws of the Game, is set to trial sin-binning players and introducing blue cards in what could be a groundbreaking shift in football disciplinary measures.

blue card
(Representative image)

The announcement is expected to be made on Friday, according to reports from BBC. While sin-bins have been utilized at grassroots levels for dissent, this trial aims to extend their use to cynical fouls at higher levels of the game. Under the proposed system, a player found guilty of a cynical foul or dissent towards officials would be presented with a blue card and required to spend 10 minutes in the technical area as a time-out.

The trial’s start date and the competitions involved remain uncertain. The Premier League has already opted out of the initial rollout, asserting its exclusion, while FIFA has denied reports of the ‘blue card’ at elite levels, stating that any trials should be responsibly tested at lower levels.

Should the trials prove successful, blue cards would mark the first significant disciplinary change since the introduction of yellow and red cards in 1970. The intention is to create a more impactful deterrent, as the threat of a 10-minute time-out in the sin bin surpasses the current yellow card punishment for similar offenses.

Professional leagues may apply to be trial participants from the next season if IFAB gives its approval. However, there are no current plans for the English Football Association (FA) to implement trial schemes in the Premier League, English Football League (EFL), or FA Cup.

Following objections from UEFA Chief Aleksander Ceferin, neither Euro 2024 nor the upcoming Champions League season will include sin bins. UEFA might, however, be compelled to adopt the disciplinary protocol if the trials demonstrate success.

Other proposed trials include allowing only team captains to approach and talk to referees in specific major game situations and permitting referees to halt matches for official “cooling off periods” during player fracas.

In the trials, referees would wield the authority to send players off for 10 minutes for dissent or cynical fouls. Two blue cards or a combination of a blue and a yellow card would lead to the player’s dismissal for the rest of the match.

The IFAB is expected to approve the extended sin-bin trials at its annual meeting in Loch Lomond, Scotland, in March. Trials have already taken place in amateur and youth football in England and Wales, gaining approval for implementation at higher levels in November last year.

As football continues to evolve, the proposed changes to disciplinary measures highlight IFAB’s commitment to adapt the Laws of the Game to contemporary needs, mirroring previous innovations like VAR, goal-line technology, and substitutions introduced over the years. The potential introduction of sin-bins and blue cards could mark a new era in football officiating and player conduct. The final decision is anticipated during the IFAB’s Annual General Meeting on March 2.

What is IFAB?
FIFA and IFAB are two separate organizations involved in the governance and regulation of football. FIFA is the overall governing body of football, responsible for organizing international competitions and overseeing the sport globally. IFAB, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the development and maintenance of the Laws of the Game. Changes to the Laws of the Game, including any amendments or modifications, are proposed by IFAB.

IFAB was founded in 1886 to agree standardized Laws for international competition, and has since acted as the “guardian” of the internationally used Laws. Since its establishment in 1904, FIFA, the sport’s top governing body, has recognized IFAB’s jurisdiction over the Laws

It is a separate body from FIFA, though FIFA is represented on the board and holds 50% of the voting power.

The IFAB is comprised of the four British football associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) with one vote each, and FIFA, covering the remaining 207 national associations, with four votes.

As a legacy of association football’s origins in the United Kingdom, the football associations of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales each have permanent seats on the organization.

Amendments to the Laws require a three-quarter supermajority vote, meaning that FIFA’s support is necessary but not sufficient for a motion to pass.

Each British association has one vote and FIFA has four. IFAB deliberations must be approved by three-quarters of the vote, or at least six of the eight votes. Thus, FIFA’s approval is necessary for any IFAB decision, but FIFA alone cannot change the Laws of the Game—they need to be agreed by at least two of the UK members. All members must be present for a binding vote to proceed.

MTNews Desk

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