Express & Star

IFAB to discuss trial scheme for ‘no-go zone’ to protect referees

Trials designed to stop players surrounding referees during flashpoint moments could get the green light at a meeting of football’s lawmaking body in London today.


Tackling poor participant behaviour is a top priority for the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and it is understood it is set to be the dominant topic at the organisation’s annual business meeting at a Heathrow hotel.

Players surrounding referees and assistants after controversial incidents has become a common sight in the modern game, but the IFAB is determined to limit contact in such situations to a respectful dialogue between the referee and the team captain. Precisely how that is achieved is still to be worked out, with the IFAB understood to be keen to run some initial tests in the amateur game to work out the practicalities and iron out the unintended consequences of any new restrictions.

One consideration is the creation of a ‘no-go zone’ around an official which only a captain can enter, but testing will be required to see how effective and practical this is in reality.

Approval of trials in top-level competitions could be granted on Tuesday to follow those initial tests, with lawmakers keen to move quickly on this issue.

Sin-bins for bad behaviour, which have been utilised in grassroots youth football, could also be extended into the adult amateur game, while measures to combat mass confrontations between teams, such as cooling down periods, will also be discussed.