MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Handballs from attackers in goal-scoring situations will no longer have to be deliberate following a decision of world football's rule-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) said on Saturday.
IFAB's annual general meeting in Aberdeen ruled that intent would no longer be a factor in situations involving goals or goal-scoring opportunities from next season. The law change should stop situations where a goal is scored off a player's arm or hand.
"A goal scored directly from the hand/arm (even if accidental) and a player scoring or creating a goal-scoring opportunity after having gained possession/control of the ball from their hand/arm (even if accidental) will no longer be allowed," IFAB said in a statement.
IFAB said the decision would "provide a more precise and detailed definition for what constitutes handball, in particular with regard to the occasions when a non-deliberate/accidental handball will be penalised."
The body - made up of the four British home nations and representatives from FIFA also approved law changes to stop players from interfering with defensive walls at free kicks.
Under the new rule players from the attacking team will have to be at least one metre away from the wall when a free kick is being taken.
The aim is to cut out the jostling and pushing in walls which frequently causes delays and incidents needing the referee's attention.
The body also approved changes that will force players being substituted to leave the field of play at the nearest touchline rather than walk across to the team's bench or the tunnel, in a bid to reduce time-wasting tactics.
A change to the goal-kick rule will also mean the ball does not have to leave the penalty area at goal kicks.
In situations where the ball hits the referee a "drop ball" will be awarded and there is also a change in the laws governing goalkeeper movements at spot-kicks with the keeper only being required to have one foot on the line at a penalty.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond)