Laws of the Game changes 2021-2022

Laws of the Game changes 2021-2022: the first updates from The IFAB meeting of March 5th appeared on their website. Update: below the links to changes in 4 different languages are added.

The main topic was the handball rule and all members “confirmed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence”. Plus more about concussion substitutes

Firstly a personal thought on the arm being in natural position., I hope that The IFAB will add examples what normal movement of the arm is. if you ask me: the arms will be further from the body when jumping in the air, but I’m really curious what is natural for you in which position. Please share your feedback.

IFAB links to different langues

Photo by IFAB published with LOTG change announcement

Main topics in the changes

  • New Laws of the Game will be applied from July 1st, normally June 1st. Football associations are allowed to start earlier than July 1st.
  • Concussion substitutes: trials are prolonged until August 2022. The idea is that a team receives an extra substitute option if a player has to leave the field of play because of their own safety. More info at IFAB.
  • Temporary amendment of Law 3 on the number of substitutes due to covid keeps in place. Football associations can allow 5 substitutes instead of the “normal” 3. More on this amendment.

Changes to the handball rules

The text below comes from the website of IFAB.

As the interpretation of handball incidents has not always been consistent due to incorrect applications of the Law, the members confirmed that not every touch of a player’s hand/arm with the ball is an offence. In terms of the criterion of the hand/arm making a player’s body “unnaturally bigger”, it was confirmed that referees should continue to use their judgment in determining the validity of the hand/arm’s position in relation to the player’s movement in that specific situation.

Following this clarification, it is a handball offence if a player:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball;
  • touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger. A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised; or
  • scores in the opponents’ goal:
    • directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper; or
    • immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental.

Accidental handball that leads to a team-mate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence.

Your thoughts on the changes

I really love to year your thoughts on the changes and your suggestions to improve the game. Please comment or send an email to


  • Abubakar Zubairu

    The concepts of handball are becoming more difficults year after year so referees has to be very careful in dealing with the handball situations, especially the changes that has just come out yesterday after the AGM. That states accidental handball which resulted to a goal or creates a goalscoring opportunity will not be considered as an offence now.
    This is a huge task on referees.

  • Asko

    I agree with you on the jumping to head the ball. For example, if you jump to head the ball and the ball strikes your arm in the air, is it intentional? As a player, you can’t jump with your hands down the body or crossed on the chest-that would be unnatural. If you played on a higher level, you will perhaps understand the situation better, but also, IFAB cannot issue a rule for every possible situation, some things will simply be left to our own interpretation.

    • Philip McNelly

      It seems the IFAB is indeed trying to make a sub-Law for every situation, and is ‘Law-ing’ themselves into a can of worms. After they’ve written 10K extra words they may, as Louis suggests, go back to ‘in the opinion of the referee’.

      Remember when they started on this new update crusade a couple of years ago they said it was to ‘clarify and simply the LotG and remove all unnecessary words. They’re now adding back more and more words every year and have created more confusion that ever – some might say 🙂

  • Kealan

    Ill be honest. Do we really need examples? Arnt we clever enough to understand deliberated handball comoares to accidental? Can we not use common sense? The handball rule really isnt hard, im yet to understand how IFAB made it so difficult!

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