Sin-bin trial plan recommended for professional games

3 months ago 98
Players surround the referee during Spurs v ChelseaPlayers surround referee Michael Oliver during the recent Tottenham v Chelsea match

Plans for football to introduce 10-minute sin-bins for cynical fouls and dissent have been recommended for trialling in the professional game.

The game's lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board (Ifab), said it will "identify which levels are best to test".

The trial will also include a rule allowing only the team captain to approach the referee during a game.

Sin-bins have been trialled at grassroots level since 2019.

The proposals were announced at an Ifab meeting in London on Tuesday and are subject to approval at its annual general meeting in March 2024.

Former referee Pierluigi Collina, who is chairman of the Fifa referees' committee and sits on the governing body's technical sub-committee, said the proposed trials would "very probably" involve professional football.

Ifab secretary Lukas Brud said one of the next steps was to identify the appropriate competition where the trials could take place.

"The positive message of the meeting is that 'yes, we're going to do something in that direction'," Brud told BBC Sport.

"Over the next weeks and months, we are going to identify which levels are best to test.

"I'm hoping in the next few months, we will have clarity about which competitions will want to trial this as well.

"It's up to them, competition organisers, to decide whether they want to participate in those trials or not.

"I think it is important to understand that something big like this, and a big decision like that, has to be considered thoroughly when creating protocols and setting up the system to trial it."

If adopted, the proposals would apply to both both men's and women's football.

Trials on sin-bins for tactical fouling under consideration

Sin-bins were piloted in 2018-19 and led to the Football Association reporting a 38% total reduction in dissent across 31 leagues.

They were then introduced across all levels of grassroots football from the 2019-20 season in an attempt to to improve levels of respect and fair play.

The rule change was then implemented up to step five of the National League system and tier three and below in women's football.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham, a member of the Ifab board, indicated sin-bins for tactical fouls could also be considered in the future.

"I think [there is] frustration for fans watching games when they see a promising counter-attack that's ruined by that [a tactical foul]," Bullingham said.

"The question of whether a yellow card is sufficient for that has led to us looking at whether that should be involved in the protocol as well.

"The starting point was looking at player behaviour and dissent - we're then looking at whether we should extend it into other areas, such as tactical fouls, as well."

VAR issues also discussed

VARThe outcome of VAR decisions are currently displayed on large screens at football matches

Discussions of the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) were also on the agenda at the Ifab meeting, which was chaired by Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell.

Ifab said any formal recommendations or trials to emerge from an ongoing Fifa-led review of VAR should "not result in any additional delays" during matches.

The lawmaking body also said technology to develop semi-automated offside decisions would continue in order to "assist on-field match officials" and to enable them to "speed up decision making in relation to offside situations".

Fifa used state-of-the-art technology for semi-automated offside decisions at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

There have also been attempts to address frustration at the lack of communication around VAR decisions by Ifab following a trial by Fifa.

During the Women's World Cup in July, referees announced VAR decisions to the crowd via microphone to fans in stadiums and viewers at home - a first at a senior Fifa international tournament.

In September, miscommunication between VAR Darren England and referee Simon Hooper led to Liverpool's Luis Diaz having a goal wrongly ruled out for offside in their Premier League game against Tottenham.

It has been recommended by Ifab that an announcement by the referee of the final decision after a VAR review should be included in the laws of the game.

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