Football has come a long way since its first laws were drawn up in London in 1863.
It’s faster, quicker and the players are bigger and more athletic. Technology has made its way into football which has helped in the tactical advancement of the game and sports science got a lot better.
Here we take a look at how the rules have changed over the years in football.
The offside rule has always been one which has been subject to a lot of controversies. The rule has seen some major changes through the years.
1866 – Forward passes are permitted, as long as there are three defending players between the receiver and the goal.
1925 – The offside rule is reduced from three to two defending players between the player and the opponent’s goal line.
The new offside rule as we know it to be now was established in 1990. The new law suggested that if the attacker is to be in the same line as the last defender he will be onside.
The substitutes were first introduced in 1958. While the number of players has always been eleven, the number of subs has changed over time from none to one, to now three.
This year, the option of allowing a 4th substitution in extra time has also come up in some tournaments like the FA Cup.
Red and yellow cards
The use of the Yellow and Red cards to indicate a caution and a dismissal (respectively) came about in the late 1960’s to provide a visual reference, especially when each team and the referee all spoke different languages.
Then in 1990’s, the concept of denying an obvious goal was added to the list of serious foul play which mandated a dismissal from the game.
In addition to it, the rule of tackling from behind was altered in 1998 as it was qualified as a red card offense.
In 2016, pre-match red cards were introduced.
The Back-Pass rule
This rule came in 1992. To keep teams from delaying the game, goalkeepers’ teammates are not allowed to kick the ball to the keeper for the keeper to control with his hands, nor to throw-in the ball for the keeper to handle with his hands.
For how long the goalkeeper could handle the ball has changed over time. It used to be for four steps. Finally, they allowed the keeper to take as many steps as he wishes (within the penalty area) as long as he places the ball back into play in six seconds.
The regulation was utilised at the 1998 and 2002 editions of the World Cup. But it proved to be decisive on two occasions which included Germany at the 1996 Euros and for France after 4 years in the same tournament. The rule stated that after the completion of 90 minutes, two fifteen-minute periods of extra time would be played. If any team scored a goal during the extra time, that team became the winner and the game would come to a halt at that point. If both teams remained even, then penalty shootout would decide the proceedings.
Since 2004, the rule has been abolished which has been replaced by the rule of extra time where both teams have to play out the entire 30 minutes comprising of two halves of fifteen minutes each. The team which leads the score line at the end of 120 minutes will come out victorious or else the game will go into penalties.
Just 10 days before the 2010 World Cup, FIFA announced that players will no longer be able to stop before kicking the ball to try and trick the goalkeeper. Players who feint will receive a yellow card and will have to retake the penalty if it goes into the net. The IFAB also decided to grant further powers to the fourth official. This aspect has removed the deceiving moves that the likes of South American players would often execute.
National Team Eligibility
Historically, a player could represent for different teams at the international level. Iconic players like Alfred Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Joseph Altafini played for different nationalities in their respective careers.
But in January 2004, FIFA restructured its national eligibility criteria and implemented new guidelines that permitted players to represent one country at youth level and another at the senior level.
The away goal rule came into effect in 2004. Competition rules may provide that where teams play each other home and away, if the scores are equal after the second match, any goals scored at the ground of the opposing team will count double.
Goal Line Technology
Goal-line technology was introduced in 2012 and was first used in the 2012 FIFA World Cup.
As seen at Euro 2016, the ball no longer has to go forward at kick-off. The previous law stated the ball had to go into the opposition half at the restart, but it has been changed to allow it to move in any direction, as long as it “clearly moves”. This change has paved the way for one-man kick-offs.
End to the triple punishment law
The previous ‘triple-punishment’ law meant a player who denied a goal-scoring opportunity in the box was automatically red-carded and handed a suspension, as well as giving away a penalty. The law has now been changed so players committing accidental fouls that deny goal-scoring opportunities in the penalty area will not be automatically sent off, with a yellow card sufficient punishment.