FIFA explores use of 4th substitute in extra time

FIFA will discuss the possibility of allowing teams to use a fourth substitute in extra time when its rules-making panel meets next month.
A FIFA match official holds up an electronic board to signal a substitution during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Quarter Final match between Paraguay and Spain at Ellis Park Stadium on July 3, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

FIFA will discuss the possibility of allowing teams to use a fourth substitute in extra time when its rules-making panel meets next month. 

The International Football Association Board is set to decide at a meeting in England on March 3 if increasing the current quota of three replacements would help improve matches and reduce injuries.

"The FIFA Task Force Football 2014, the medical committee and the football committee support the proposal in order to maintain the technical level until the 120th minute and to protect the health of the players," FIFA said Wednesday. 

Goal-line technology tests will return to the agenda of the rules panel, which is known as IFAB.

The panel will receive progress reports on tests involving eight systems, and decide which will proceed to a scheduled second round of testing starting in March. 

Goal-line technology, 5-referee system on agenda

FIFA said a final decision to approve goal-line technology can be taken at a further IFAB meeting on July 2. It could take place in Kyiv, the day after the 2012 European Championship final in the Ukraine capital. 

IFAB will also study trials of the five-referee system, using additional assistants beside each goal to support referees' decision-making, which conclude at Euro 2012. 

The panel will reconsider allowing Islamic female players to wear a hijab, five years after the headscarf was banned for safety reasons. 

FIFA vice-president Prince Ali of Jordan has urged IFAB to respect cultural traditions and approve a headscarf held in place by a safe Velcro fastener. 

IFAB, which is comprised of the four British associations plus FIFA delegates, could also amend the so-called "triple punishment" of sanctioning certain fouls with a penalty kick, red card and suspension.

FIFA acknowledged that the current system is "widely considered to be too severe."

A suggested amendment calls for a red card only when a player prevents "an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball, by holding or an offence committed from behind inside his own penalty area when he has no opportunity to play the ball." 

Hand ball terminology modified?

Other proposals on the agenda include assessing tests at the 2011 Copa America where referees used vanishing spray on the grass to mark the 10 yards (9 metres) that defensive walls must retreat from the ball once placed for a free kick. 

FIFA wants the word "blatantly" removed from definitions of a handball offence, and the English Football Association suggested that players must only use tape of the same colour as their socks.

"This can cause confusion particularly for assistant referees who may need to look at the sock to determine who last played the ball before it has gone out of play," the IFAB agenda stated.

Rules are amended with six of the eight available votes. Each British association — from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales — has one vote and FIFA officials have four. 

Changes typically take effect on July 1 ahead of the following season, but can be fast-tracked for a major tournament if the panel agrees.