Permanent concussion substitutes approved, sin bin trials to continue


March 2, 2024

Additional permanent concussion substitutions will be enshrined in football’s laws but it remains an option which is up to organisers of individual competitions to implement, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) said on Saturday.

Soccer’s law-making body IFAB held its annual general meeting in Loch Lomond, Scotland where they also said trials for using sin bins as a punishment for dissent and tactical offences will continue to be refined.

IFAB announced changes and clarifications for the sport’s laws, with the additional permanent concussion substitution law coming into effect from July 1 and they also confirmed additional trials.

“Regarding permanent concussion substitutions, the trial we’ve run is effectively concluded and that is now enshrined in the laws of the game,” Ian Maxwell, CEO of the Scottish Football Association, told reporters.

“It will be up to competitions to determine if they want to use permanent concussion substitutions as per the protocol.”

The protocol allows a team to replace a player with a suspected head injury without it counting towards their allocation of substitutes.

Sin bins, where players are sent off for 10 minutes as in rugby, have been a sore subject for Premier League managers while FIFA President Gianni Infantino said they were “completely opposed to blue cards” to send players to sin bins.

But Mark Bullingham, CEO of England’s FA, said they were still refining the protocol at grassroots levels.

“When we announced everything in November, there was no backlash but there was quite a lot of support for sin bins,” Bullingham said.

“For some reason the Premier League managers thought it would apply to them, that wasn’t the intention. We’ve said: ‘Let’s get the protocol right’ before we move it up the pyramid. We need to get it right away from the pressure of the cameras and the fans.”

Maxwell said the introduction of sin bins was an effort to eradicate bad behaviour.

“We’ve seen referees right across the game and the abuse they get is unacceptable,” he added.

The IFAB confirmed trials below the top two tiers to improve behaviour with only a team’s captain allowed to approach the referee.

The time limit for goalkeepers holding the ball will also be increased to eight seconds in a trial, with possession reverting to the opposing team if they hold on to it for longer. The current law allows them to hold the ball for six seconds.

“We’re seeing an increasing trend and time being wasted in the game,” Maxwell said.

“It’s certainly a difficult situation under the current laws for the referees to manage, there’s a reluctance to administer fouls for that.”

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