Emboldened by football’s positive reaction to the radical decisions taken at the 130th IFAB AGM in 2016, when approval was given for an experiment with video assistant referees (VARs), a change in the ‘denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity’ (DOGSO) philosophy and the historic revision of the Laws of the Game, The IFAB, in close partnership with FIFA, aims to expand the football debate with a ‘PLAY FAIR!’ strategy which complements and enhances FIFA’s ‘fair play’ programme so that ideas to develop the game through its Laws reflect “what football wants”.


Improving player behaviour and increasing respect

The behaviour of players and team officials (especially coaches) must improve and more respect must be shown for the ‘spirit’ and letter of the Laws and for the referees who apply them. There are many ways in which behaviour can be improved and respect increased:

  • Increased responsibility for the captain

  • Mobbing/surrounding’ match officials

  • Red and yellow card for coaches/team officials

  • Pre-match handshake

  • Red card for substitute


Increasing playing time

Many people are very frustrated that a typical 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of effective (actual) playing time (EPT) i.e. when the ball is in play. The ‘PLAYFAIR!’ strategy proposes measures to reduce time-wasting and ’speed up’ the game:

  • Stricter calculation of ‘additional time’

  • Goalkeeper holding the ball

  • Substitutions

  • Effective playing time

  • Stadium clocks

  • ‘Self-passing’

  • Moving ball at goal kick

  • Goal kick position


Increasing fairness & attractiveness

The ‘PLAYFAIR!’ strategy should develop the Laws to make the game fairer and more enjoyable to watch, play, coach and referee. This may involve challenging aspects of football which have been traditionally accepted but which cause irritation and ‘spoil’ the game:

  • A different order of kickers for kicks from the penalty mark

  • Goal kicks and defending free kicks in the penalty area

  • Handball

  • Half-time and full-time whistle

  • Penalty kick – same as a kick from the penalty mark


Strategy Paper English (8.2MB) Download

More info coming soon