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International

Accidental Handballs to Be Allowed Before Teammate Scores

LONDON — Accidental handballs in the buildup to a teammate scoring will no longer lead to the goal being ruled out, soccer's lawmakers decided Friday.

The move by the International Football Association Board follows irritation in the game about how goals seem to be harshly ruled out.

"Accidental handball that leads to a teammate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offense," IFAB said in a statement after a virtual meeting.

Referees are being urged to "use their judgment" when assessing the position of hands and arms when a ball hits them.

"As the interpretation of handball incidents has not always been consistent due to incorrect applications of the law, the members confirmed that not every touch of a player's hand/arm with the ball is an offense," IFAB said.

Changes to the laws of the game take effect from July 1, although IFAB said competitions have the flexibility to introduce them sooner.

IFAB also opened the door to the use of five substitutes being extended through the 2022 World Cup. The congested calendar due to the pandemic saw competitions last year permitted to give teams two additional substitutions in matches. That currently runs through July 2022 for national team competitions but IFAB said it will "remain under review."

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