AS THE world seemingly adapts to a new normal on the back of the devastation caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, football has seen the introduction of some drastic new rules.
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Football’s rule-makers in conjunction with the Football Association recently announced a new rule which declares that players who deliberately cough at other players, or match officials, can be shown a red card. The International Football Association Board (Ifab) said such an offence fell within “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”.
In a statement, Ifab said: “As with all offences, the referee has to make a judgement about the true nature of the offence.” It added: “If it were clearly accidental, then the referee would not take action nor if the ‘cough’ took place with a large distance between the players.”
But that is where the exceptions end. The body, which determines the Laws of the Game of association football, also stated: “However, where it is close enough to be clearly offensive, then the referee can take action.” The FA also issued guidance for grassroots football which will come into force immediately per an official document released.
“If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour’,” stated the FA. It added referees must not look to punish “routine” coughing and “action can only be supported where it is evident it was a clear act against someone else”.
In the Premier League, as with the English Football League, there is [currently] no written guidance per the new rule and will be solely down to the referee’s discretion on the best course of action to be implemented in a similar situation.