Ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, there will be 42 changes relating to the professional game all of which became effective at the start of June.

Some of them are significant, including those which involve fouls and misconduct like verbal offences and the list of cautions. Others meanwhile, seem either silly or pretty self-explanatory like usual.

As released by the International FA Board (IFAB), here are the main important rules that have been altered:

Fouls and overall misconduct

In terms of fouls and overall misconduct, verbal offences by players are punished with an indirect free-kick. It’s likely that in most cases, the referee will book the offender too.

If an advantage is played for a sending-off and the player commits another offence, that particular challenge is penalised. Players have regularly been sent off for stopping a promising attack but interestingly, they will no longer be cautioned if the referee deems there was a genuine attempt to play the ball and not catch the player in possession.

Attackers that enter the penalty area cannot play nor challenge for the ball before it is touched by another player, whether that be from a goal-kick or defensive free-kick in the opposing half.

An offside player can be penalised if the ball rebounds or deflects off a match official, while players who impede their opponent must be penalised. In addition, a player who is fouled before or after committing an offside offence will earn the free-kick for their side.

So for instance if Alexis was flagged for offside but fouled seconds before latching onto a pass in the box, a free-kick would be awarded where he was almost hauled down by the opponent.

From the penalty spot meanwhile, it seems self-explanatory but the player taking the spot-kick must be identified beforehand. This is to stop tricks aimed at deceiving the goalkeeper.

In addition, the referee can order a retake and brandish yellow cards to both the goalkeeper and penalty-taker if they both offend at the same time. This includes instances such as encroaching from the goal-line, trash talk during the build-up and purposely wasting time to provoke a reaction or play mind games.

forster milner
Fraser Forster was criticised for his mind games during Liverpool’s goalless draw against Southampton, where he purposely tried to put James Milner off seconds before the penalty. New rules mean that officials are likely to eradicate this type of controversy from spot-kicks. (Picture source: Daily Mail)

For the full explanatory documents for this year’s changes, you can find them here.

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Football writer. Objective reviews and analysis of European football. Lifelong Arsenal fan, youth football enthusiast.