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Soccer: IFAB wants clearer handball rule, gives thumbs-down to ABBA

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GLASGOW (Reuters) – Soccer’s rule-making body IFAB has agreed that the rules of the game have to be clearer in defining what constitutes accidental handball.

IFAB said the subject was discussed at length at a meeting on Thursday “with an agreement being reached on the necessity for a more precise and detailed wording for the different types of handball offences”.

“The most significant clarifications relate to ‘non-deliberate’ handball situations, where there is an unfair ‘outcome/benefit’ due to the ball making contact with a player’s hand/arm,” it said.

There is a constant debate over what is considered deliberate handball with penalties often awarded when the ball hits a defender’s hand at point-blank range.

IFAB also recommended the introduction of a new rule to force substituted players to leave the pitch via the nearest touchline.

This would avoid situations where a player dawdles halfway across the field towards the tunnel in a bid to waste time.

IFAB also recommended the introduction of red and yellow cards for misconduct by team officials and that the ball should no longer have to leave the penalty area at goal kicks.

However, the so-called ABBA system for penalty shootouts was rejected.

“The Board noted the absence of strong support, mainly because the procedure is complex, and agreed that it will no longer be a future option for competitions,” said IFAB.

The system, which has been trialled at some competitions, is designed to prevent the team going second from being put at the psychological disadvantage of always having to play catch-up.

In the ABBA system, team A take the first penalty, team B the second and third, team A the fourth and fifth and so on until each has taken five. The sequence continues if the shootout then goes to sudden death.

Other discussions included measures to stop attacking players causing disruption in the defensive wall at free kicks — a situation which often leads to scuffles and arguments.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)

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