Coronavirus and the Laws of the Game

Coronavirus and the Laws of the Game: some changes are announced by IFAB. There are options for five substitutes, leagues have the possibility to not use the video referee and leagues can choose whether they’ll use old (2019-2020) or updated/new (2020-2021) Laws of the Game.

Key points from the IFAB circular

  • There is a temporary amendment to Law 3, as more substitutes can be used. More about that below.
  • Competitions in which video assistant referees (VARs) are implemented are permitted to cease
    their use upon their restart, at the discretion of the competition organiser
  • The Laws of the Game 2020/21 come into force for competitions (and non-competition matches) as from 1 June 2020, but competitions suspended because of COVID-19 have the option of completing the competition using the Laws of the Game 2019/20 or the Laws of the Game 2020/21, even if the restart is after 1 June 2020.
  • ‘Friendly/warm-up/practice’ matches inpreparation for the restart of the competition should use the version of the Laws that will be used when the competition restarts.

All details are in the circular by IFAB (EN). Other languages on IFAB website.

Law 3 – The Players – temporary amendment

The summary by IFAB on the temporary amendment of Law 3:

  • Each team will be permitted to use a maximum of five substitutes.
  • To reduce disruption to the match, each team will have a maximum of three opportunities to make substitutions during the game; substitutions may also be made at half-time.
  • If both teams make a substitution at the same time, this will count as one of the three opportunities for each team.
  • Unused substitutions and opportunities are carried forward into extra time.
  • Where competition rules allow an additional substitution in extra time, teams will each have one additional substitution opportunity; substitutions may also be made before the start of extra time and at half-time in extra time.

How referee Alan Kelly stays fit in corona period

How does referee Alan Kelly stay fit during the Covid 19 crisis? Alan Kelly talks about this on a webinar by Silbo, a company that automates sports officiating administration.

The MLS referee has a daily morning routine – Covid 19 or not. He wears a Polar watch that measures his fitness and sleep. “First thing that we do every morning. I check my resting heart rate”, the former FIFA referee from Ireland says. “Then I answer 5 questions how I slept, how I feel. And I send it to the referee department and get a training programme each day.”

MLS referee Alan Kelly during work-out. Photo courtesy of referee.

Uploading training results

Referee Alan Kelly is just back from an injury, so he’s building up his training intensity again. “When I have trained, I upload this to a computer”. Because fitness instructors that help the referee department will see the results of his training, they can adjust it to his performance. “Based on my results they change the scheme for the rest of the week.”

Referee Alan Kelly’s basement is a home gym

“My basement is converted to a little bit of a home gym”, he says. Kelly has the opportunity to use weights, bands and he can cycle and jog. No running yet, because of the injury he had. 

The programmes professional referees at PRO get are tailored for each individual. “The expectation is that we look after ourselves, because we need to be prepared if we return into practise again.”

Training almost every day 

In this period with Covid 19 and no games, there’s maybe 1 intensity session instead of 2 per day. “But it’s a 5 or 6 day process every single week”, he says. It shows the importance of fitness for referees these days. “That’s an expectation for the level we’re operating at.”

And what keeps them going? I’ve written a blog post about how to stay motivated when not having any games. Referee Alan Kelly mentions a messages from a colleague, that he received in a group chat. It showed what you should keep in mind as well. “One of the guys in the group send a text: whenever we’re back, we’re going to be operating at a regular basis, so we have te be ready.” Because of that they keep motivated. “We approach every day as if we’re still in the season.”

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Essex FA Referees Development Clips

The Essex FA Referees Department has shared some wonderful development clips on their Twitter channel. “For us, it’s about providing as many development opportunities as possible to referees in Essex”, they let me know. However, it is great to see referees from around the world benefiting from the resources we are putting out.”

Development during lockdown

“Any sort of referee development, no matter where the referee is from, can only be good for the game once it resumes”, they shared with me. “We want to make sure that referees are getting some form of development whilst they cannot be on the pitch and these online resources are a great way to do this. We have even seen people attend sessions who do not normally attend our face to face sessions which is really good to see.” Read more about refereeing in Essex.

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