FIFA proposal would limit red cards

Updated: October 25, 2011, 2:58 PM ET
Associated Press

ZURICH -- A FIFA panel proposed Tuesday that referees be more lenient with players who foul in the penalty area.

The FIFA Task Force Football 2014 led by Franz Beckenbauer agreed that the so-called "triple punishment" of penalty, red card and suspension is too severe.

"A penalty is enough if it is a simple foul or a tackle where you try to get the ball but you are a second late," said Beckenbauer, a World Cup-winning player and coach with West Germany. "If you have a violent foul, if it would have been a red card anywhere on the field, then it's a penalty and a red card."

Red cards would still be given for handball offenses that stop a certain goal, under the 20-member panel's proposal.

FIFA's head of refereeing, Massimo Busacca, said the proposal would have stopped him sending off South Africa's goalkeeper in a 2010 World Cup match against Uruguay.

Busacca was required to dismiss Itumeleng Khune for bringing down Luis Suarez despite only slight contact. South Africa lost 3-0 and Khune missed the final group-stage match against France.

"This is one of the changes we would want to see, when the goalkeeper challenges but finds the (forward's) legs," said Busacca, who is part of the expert panel.

FIFA will present a new draft to its rules-making panel, known as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which has previously upheld the triple sanction when defenders and goalkeepers deny attackers a goal-scoring opportunity. It will meet March 3 in England and can approve the changes that would take effect in July.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter created the task force to suggest ways of improving soccer before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

On Tuesday, the panel debated giving more clarity to the offside law relating to players who are not actively involved in an attacking move.

Busacca said he routinely advised referees and assistants to let play unfold before judging whether players in an offside position were "active or passive."

"I don't think we could find better words," the Swiss two-time World Cup referee said.

The task force, which included former World Cup winners Cafu of Brazil and Christian Karembeu of France, agreed to discuss the offside rule at its next scheduled meeting in December.

They also backed a previous IFAB decision that coaches should not use gadgets and technology aids in the dugout.

The panel discussed the possibility of temporary substitutions that could help injured players be treated more effectively during matches.

Jiri Dvorak, FIFA's chief medical officer, said there was talk about setting minimum standards for treating bleeding injuries and possible concussions.

The panel wants portable defibrillators to be available at all international matches run by FIFA and its six continental confederations.

"The number one priority is proper treatment of players," Dvorak said.

FIFA also is monitoring "abuse" of anti-inflammatory drugs and food supplements by players at Under-17 tournaments.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press