by RICHARD IV
BELFAST, Northern Ireland/ FIFA Weekly/ President Blatter introduced today's 129th IFAB meeting with the following explanatory notes on this week's house magazine FIFA Weekly.
''One of the main reasons for football’s popularity is its stable values. The fundamentals of the Laws have barely changed since they were first laid down by the English Football Association in 1863.
In 1886 the International Football Association Board (IFAB) was set up to control, monitor and, if necessary, adapt those Laws. The Board’s annual meeting takes place in Belfast this weekend. The IFAB treads the fine line between conservation and modernisation with great assurance and has proved the Keeper of the Grail in the most positive sense.
It refuses to be knocked off course by short-term (and short-sighted) swings in the public mood. A prime example is the never-ending debate about the (so-called) ‘triple punishment’ for offences in the penalty area – a debate based on a misinterpretation, because the Laws set out clear guidelines, regardless of whether a foul (or handball) is committed in the box or outside.
Law 12 lists the ten offences to be punished by a direct free kick, from kicking an opponent, via charging or pushing, through to deliberate handball. The same clause stipulates the offences for which a sending off is due. These include serious foul play, violent conduct, and denying the opposing team an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Where the offence takes place is immaterial. A foul is a foul, wherever it takes place on the field. However, if the foul takes place in the penalty area the referee must give a penalty instead of a free kick. This is also entirely non-negotiable. It changes nothing about the facts of the incident (and the required sanctions) whether the player committing the offence is an outfield player or the goalkeeper.
The Laws apply equally to all. I’ve said it often enough, and I’m happy to say it again: interpreting the Laws demands intuition and dexterity. The responsibility lies with the referees and their assistants. Intuition trumps changing the Law''
Best wishes, Sepp Blatter