Lionel Messi had his name scribbled in the ref’s notebook for this neat little trick from the penalty spot – and it’s now set in the Laws of the Game that any player who feints to kick before rolling the ball into the net will get a yellow card for ‘unsporting behaviour.’
Away and bollocks, man. If a goalkeeper is daft enough to fall for that one, he deserves the red face.
The International Football Association Board has released a number of rule changes which came into force on the 1st of June and they’re pretty bog standard; get in the way of someone taking a throw-in and you’re booked, hands and arms don’t count in playing someone offside and logos are now allowed on corner flags, so expect to see some McDonald’s golden arches flapping on a pitch near you soon.
But others are a bit more interesting – you can now walk for violent conduct even if you don’t make contact – a bit like getting done for throwing a drunken punch in a bar-brawl and spinning yourself onto your backside. If you’re going to get sent off you might as well make a decent go of it, like when Zinedine Zidane famously stuck the head on Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final.
A mix of artificial and real grass surfaces are now allowed, too, but how that will work I don’t know. Plastic eighteen-yard boxes to stop them getting hacked up in the winter months?
Touch a ref and it’s a direct free-kick or a penalty, now. And football’s top brass have also done away with this neat trick almost pulled of by AS Roma. Look at the confusion on the liner’s face!
The wording of the rule has been changed to: ‘The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves.’ This is to stop players touching the ball and pretending the corner has not been taken, to then gain an advantage.