Changes to the Laws Of The Game

Over the last few weeks, we have consulted with WFA affiliated clubs on several rules changes that we felt would help the flow of the game. We asked clubs and referees to vote on these changes.

There were two specific rule changes that we put to the clubs, the first concerned the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity and the second concerned the use of quick free kicks.

This is how the voting went. Percentages are for the rule change.

Denial of Goal Scoring Opportunity
Clubs: 74%
Referees: 65%
Combined: 68%

Quick Free Kicks
Clubs: 91%
Referees: 61%
Combined: 73%

Therefore, both rule changes were agreed with good majorities.

Implementation date: 1st January 2021

The full WFA 2021 LOTG will be available to download on the new WFA website when it is launched on the 1st August.

The new rules are shown below:

New Rule 1. DOGSO

Denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) is a red-card offence. This rule is to prevent the defence from illegally stopping their opponents’ most dangerous CLEAR scoring opportunities and takes into account handling the ball, fouling an attacker moving toward the goal and a goal bound shot being blocked by a running defender.

This is an offence punishable by a penalty kick.

It’s obviously a very important decision for the referee to determine DOGSO as the team would then be playing short and the sent off player could be suspended.

The decision must be based on four elements for an obvious goal scoring opportunity before the foul becomes a penalty and a red card offence.

They are described as the four D’s:

  • Defenders: Not counting the player committing the foul, there is at most one defender between the foul and the goal. That other defender is generally the goalkeeper. The keeper committing a foul can be sent off for this offence as well
  • Distance to the ball: The attacker must be close enough to the ball to continue playing it at the time of the foul.
  • Distance to the goal: The attacker must be close enough to the goal to have a legitimate chance to score. So being near the opponent’s penalty area is more likely to be an obvious goal-scoring opportunity than the attacker being in his /her team’s defensive half of the field.
  • Direction: The attacker must be moving toward the opponent’s goal at the time of the foul, not toward a corner flag or away from the goal.

New Rule 2. Quick Free Kick

Quick free kicks may be taken without a referee’s signal to resume play, as long as the Referee deems the action to be safe. If play is restarted in an unsafe manner the referee may decide to take appropriate action as he deems fit. This could be either the retaking the free kick, or reversing the decision, and awarding the free kick to the opposing team.

A player who intentionally tries to prevent the taking of a quick free kick will be blue carded.

Note for clarification:

  • It is the referee’s decision to award a free kick
  • It is the players’ decision to take a quick free kick
Handball rule clarification

The implementation of various changes to the handball rule by the FA have caused confusion and we have recently seen some bizarre decisions in the Premier League, often facilitated by an extensive VAR review process.

The FA will, for season 2020/21, also be revising their definition of the “arm” in handball decisions.

The WFA endeavour to keep the LOTG for Walking Football as simple and safe as possible. And as easy to implement for referees.

As a unique sport, we make our own decisions and do not follow what the rule-makers deem suitable for Association Football.

Consequently, we have not changed the simple rule that accidental handball is NOT an offence in any circumstance.

Similarly, we have no intention of amending the definition of an arm. This remains as being from the “tip of the fingers to the shoulder”.

The FA Rules

We suggest that those who use and support the FA version of the walking Football LOTG should lobby the FA to adopt a similar approach to the WFA so that the already significant variations between us are not increased any further.

The WFA have for the last 3 years endeavoured to create a uniform set of LOTG but the FA have regretfully proved intransigent on this important matter. The WFA LOTG are in a 7 page document. The FAs version comprise 20 pages. Unnecessary.

With the FA now in crisis, and a major re-structuring under way, we can only hope that our long-standing “working together for the good of the game” partnership (Established in 2017) will continue.

Our main contact at the FA, the Head of Participation & Development, Steve Day has unfortunately this week been made redundant. We wish Steve the best of luck in finding a new position elsewhere and thank him for his work within the sport.

For such a key senior role to be removed from the FA structure would appear to be devasting news for grassroots football, and it may also impact on the good work being done in our sport by some of the County FAs. Hopefully, our existing relationships with many County FAs will not be adversely affected.

Clearly the FA budgets are having to be pruned dramatically, with forecast losses of £300 million this year, and any planned investment in WF will presumably be delayed or cancelled.

Author: dawn@level

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