The new rules changes for 2019/2020 football season

As of the 1st June 2019, there are a number of rule changes brought into football by the International Football Association Board, (IFAB). Here is a summary of those changes:


A player being substituted must leave the pitch by the nearest point on the touchline or byline. This is to stop players and coaches time wasting substituting the player furthest away on the pitch.

Cards for coaches:

A team guilty of misconduct will be shown a yellow or red card. If the offender cannot be identified, the senior coach will receive the card.

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The penalty kick cannot be taken whilst the goalkeeper is touching the posts or net. The goalkeeper must have one of his feet partly on the goalline (or above it if jumping) when the kick is taken. He cannot stand behind or in front of the line.

Free kicks:

When the defending team has three or more players in a wall, the attacking team cannot place a player in or near the wall. Should an attacking players be standing within 1 metre of the wall, the attacking side will be penalised with an indirect free kick.

Quick free kicks:

If the referee is about to show a yellow or red card to a player, the non-offending team can take the quick free kick. The referee will go back afterwards and show the particular card. Previously, the referee had to show the card first before any play could continue.

However, if the referee distracts the offending side by showing the card, the quick free kick cannot be taken.

Goal kicks:

A goalkeeper can now play the ball to a team mate that is stood inside the penalty area. The ball is now considered in play as soon as it is kicked, previously the ball had to leave the area. This may effect sides like Manchester City whose goalkeeper often plays the goal kick short to one of his defenders inside the penalty area.

Drop balls:

Drop balls are no longer contested. If the attacking teams play is stopped, they will get the ball back where the play was previously stopped. In the past a defending team could boot the ball as far back down the pitch and the attacking team would lose their position and momentum.

Another change now sees a drop ball awarded if the ball hits the referee and goes to the other team as a result.

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Nothing changes in respect of deliberate handball, however, accidental handball will now result in a free kick where:

  • the ball goes into the goal off an attacker
  • a player gets the ball using his arm or hand and then scores, or creates a goalscoring opportunity
  • a player’s hand or arm has made their body “unnaturally bigger”
  • the player’s arm or hand is above their shoulder (unless the player has controlled the ball onto his own arm or hand)

However, a handball will not be a free kick if,

  • the ball is knocked on to a hand by the player in question or a nearby player
  • the arm or hand is close to their body and “has not made their body unnaturally bigger”
  • if a player is falling and the ball touches their hand or arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body – but not extended to make the body bigger

Other changes:

A player can now be booked for celebrating – for removing his shirt or celebrating with the fans – even if the goal is disallowed.

The team that wins the pre-match coin toss can now choose whether to take the kick-off or which goal to attack – previously they could only choose which goal to attack.

Featured image courtesy of skysports

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