Often known as the ‘last man’ rule (it’s nothing to do with being the last man), the punishment for ‘denying a goalscoring opportunity’ has always been excessive.

Not only do the team lose a player (and then usually a substitution as well) but if the infraction happens in the box, they also face a penalty – a move which always restored the goalscoring opportunity anyway. The player then serves a one-game suspension.

Finally, the authorities have seen sense!

At the AGM of the International Football Association Boar (IFAB), they have decided to revise the law.

The decision was a special item on the AGM agenda and new wording for the Law (Law 12) was approved unanimously.

It now reads:

Denial of a goal-scoring opportunity (Law 12)
Where a player commits an offence within his own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player should be cautioned unless:
– The offence is holding, pulling or pushing or
– The offending player does not attempt to play the ball or there is no possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball or
– The offence is one which is punishable by a red card wherever it occurs on the field of play (e.g. serious foul play, violent conduct, etc.)
In all the above circumstances, the player should be dismissed from the field of play.

As you can see, if a penalty is awarded, the offence is no longer automatically punishable by a straight red card.

This will now be implemented globally for a two-year trial period when it will be reviewed by the IFAB.

IFAB’s role in life is to ‘discuss and decide upon proposed alterations to the Laws of the Game.’

‘FIFA and the UK-based associations (English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs) can propose matters to be discussed and ratified at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which usually takes place in February or March.’