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136th Meeting Of The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) – Opening Address By The FIFA President

FIFA has hosted the 136th Annual General Meeting of The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) in Doha, Qatar. The video submission – including interview clips from FIFA Chairman of the Referees’ Committee, Pierluigi Collina, Debbie Hewitt (The FA) and Patrick Nelson (Irish FA) – is available to download and use, as well as an opening statement from FIFA President, Gianni Infantino.

Transcripts (video 1):
Gianni Infantino 1 (EN):
Welcome, everyone, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for being here, thanks for having an interest in what we do. Thanks for taking an interest, as well, in this IFAB [International Football Association Board] meeting in particular, which is what we are going to discuss today, as Brian was saying.
Let me start by thanking, of course, my colleagues here: Noel [Mooney], Ian [Maxwell], Patrick [Nelson] and Mark [Bullingham], as well as Pierluigi Collina for their work at this morning’s meeting and throughout the years to come, indeed, [following] this meeting.
[The] 136th IFAB meeting – this means 136 years that the IFAB is looking at how to protect the game, and how to make the game better. So, today, as well, [is] an important step in this direction. It’s actually the first time that the IFAB has come to Asia.
Only the fourth time that it is [held] outside of Europe; the first time in Asia; the first time in the Middle East; it’s the first time in Qatar, in Doha, of course – [a] very symbolic, very important country hosting the [FIFA] World Cup in a few months time from now.
A few decisions have been taken; you received the [press] release, in this respect, so I’m not going to go through them. Nevertheless, just to mention a few of the most important ones: obviously, the five substitutions, which was a temporary rule being introduced because of COVID,
and being supported by many, many stakeholders all over the world. So this has become, now, a permanent rule. Of course, it’s a maximum of five substitutions. This is certainly one of the main decisions made today.
Reports were being listened to on some of the trials and tests, which are ongoing, such as the one on concussion [which is very important to protect the health of the players.
For this reason, we obviously continue based on expert medical advice with this concussion experiment for definitely another one year.

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Possible amendments to the offside rule, also there, to make the game more attractive, more favourable to offensive play. Also there, we are testing a new version of the offside rule in some youth competitions around the world and also there, this is an ongoing test.
Obviously as well, we are always looking at how we can improve VAR and make it also more accessible to many countries.
Let me mention, as well, maybe speaking about VAR, there are and there have been tests on VAR, the so-called ‘VAR lite’ version, with fewer cameras and a bit less sophisticated, which have proven very successful.
And we have tested, as well, for example also at the last FIFA Futsal World Cup,
a video support system, an additional video support system which is [made] even for less than three cameras, so allowing countries which have fewer possibilities still to be able to count on the help of technology to take decisions [through] their referees.
In addition to this, what I would like to mention as well is some further trials which will take place and initiatives that we took.
The most important one is linked with referees and, since I have Pierluigi looking at me already, [wondering] when I will mention it, well, I want to mention it precisely now because it is very important.
IFAB, as I was saying, has to protect the game and make the game better, and part of the protection of the game, of course, and making it better is also to protect and help the referees. We help the referees with VAR, with VAR Lite, with additional ways of supporting referees with videos,
but we have to help the referees as well and protect them from aggression which sadly take place in many, many parts of the world, and the FA has come up with a proposal in this respect for grassroots football:
to allow referees to have – or foresee referees to have – body cams to be able to see what is going on and help them and protect them. This is certainly an element we are going to look into, but, more generally, we have to look [into] ways and initiatives, through education and other means, to protect referees
because we cannot have anymore, in any pitch, anywhere in the world, players, officials, sometimes even parents or fans assaulting or aggressing referees.
We have to be very firm in that respect, and IFAB took, today, an important step in this direction.
Other tests which are [in] trials, which the IFAB board is going to look into, are linked with the time, with the waste [wasting] of time, but also effective time, [and] how to find a solution in this respect.
I think we all believe and have the same feeling that it is not really acceptable if we say a game of football is a game of 90 minutes, that in reality only 46, 47 and 48 minutes are played. We need to look into that.
There are ways with the time-keeping, there are ways with granting additional time in the different games, in the different matches, but some trials will be done in this respect to calculate the playing time in a fairer way.
Similarly, proposals were made to test kick-ins. Whilst we might be a bit sceptical on some of these measures, IFAB is also open to looking into any proposal which is made,
and if some proposals are there to help the game, we’ll know it before we look into that. So, we’ll look into these proposals as well. I don’t think I have forgotten anything.
Yes, maybe one more thing: there have been discussions about substitutions, about how many players you can have on the bench, so to say [speak], as substitutes, and we’ve increased this number from 12 to 15;
of course, in addition to the 11 players on the pitch, bringing the total number to 26. I think that summarises more or less what has been said. More is in the press release, and of course, my colleagues here can answer all questions you might have in this respect. Thanks so much for being here.

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