The International Football Association Board (Ifab) and Football Association in England have agreed that any footballer who deliberately cough at close range from another player or match official can be awarded a red card. This new rule which is expected to take effect immediately is one of the new guidelines introduced amid the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement released on Monday, Ifab said referees can only award a red card to a player who coughs during a match when they are certain that the player coughed intentionally. The football law-making body also noted that the new rule falls under the category of
“using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” which is punishable by a red or yellow card.
Hence, once a match referee is certain that the action is not severe enough, a player that carries out such an action can be awarded a yellow card but if the referee feels that the action is severe, the guilty player can be awarded a red card.
Ifab said: “As with all offenses, the referee has to make a judgment about the true nature of the offense.
“If it were clearly accidental, then the referee would not take action nor if the ‘cough’ took place with a large distance between the players,” added Ifab.
“However, where it is close enough to be clearly offensive, then the referee can take action.”
This new and every other rule enacted during the coronavirus pandemic which gives referees total control during football matches would continue to take effect throughout the pandemic and the rules are to be applied in all levels of football.
Referees can award yellow card for unsporting behaviors
While domesticating the rule in the United Kingdom, the English FA agreed with the recommendation of Ifab and urged referees to only send-off players when they are able to prove that their coughing was deliberate. But if it was not severe enough to merit a red card, the player should be given a yellow card.
“If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, caution could be issued for unsporting behavior – shows a lack of respect for the game”, the FA said.
While describing what unsporting behavior is in regard to the new rule, the FA said: “action can only be unsporting where it is evident it was a clear act against someone else”.
Though this new rule will take full effect during the 2020-2021 football season, it was gathered that referees officiating a Premier League match or other lower league matches in England are free to use their discretion in issuing punishment to players under the new rule since there was no written guidance on the new rule.
IFAB Approves continuation of 5-Substitution per match rule
Meanwhile, the International Football Association Board (Ifab) has approved that the five substitutions per team in a match rule should continue. However, football associations and organizers of football competitions have been given the right to choose to adopt it or ignore it.
Recall that the five-substitution rule was introduced after the coronavirus pandemic forced football to a halt. The rule was used in all the football competitions including the Premier League, the Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, and Spanish La Liga, that returned to action in June 2020.