NFF to Educate Eagles, Others on New Football Rules

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino



Femi Solaja

Determined not to be caught off guard when new rules initiated by International Football Association Board (IFAB) come into play, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has concluded plans to educate all its national football teams on the move by FIFA.

At its (IFAB) 133rd Annual General Meeting held on March 2nd, 2019 in Aberdeen, Scotland, five major changes to the rules of football were adopted and are expected to come into force from June 1st this year.

Some are minor others are a lot more dramatic. First, there will be no rebounds from penalties, meaning play will stop for a restart if a penalty is saved or hits the post. There will no longer be opportunity of a follow up to score from such rebounds.

Henceforth, handballs either voluntarily or involuntarily will no longer be allowed except if the action leads to goal.

Also, a substituted player can leave the field anywhere to guard against time wasting by advantaged team.

IFAB also ruled that players can now touch the ball in the area after a goalkeeper kicks it out unlike before that players could not touch goal kicks before they exited the box.

Finally, coaches will receive cards instead of reprimands. Now, they can be able to be given yellow and red cards just like players.

“We are ready to adapt to the changes that will come into force in the next few months. Nigerian football has suffered from negligence in the past but in this digital age, we are more abreast to adaptation that goes with whatever change in our dynamic sport.

“In the days to come, the Technical Department and its Committee will soon meet on how best to educate all the teams and not only the Super Eagles, the same message will go down to clubs participating in the continental competition and also in the domestic football,” Head of Communication NFF, Mr. Ademola Olajire revealed to THISDAY last night.

Super Falcons will be the first to face the new rules at the FIFA Women World Cup finals in France from 7th June to 7th July while Super Eagles comes next at the Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt scheduled for 21st June to 19th of July.

The Green Eagles were victims of the ‘ball-in-flight’ rule when it was introduce late 1987.

Indomitable Lions of Cameroon were the beneficiary of the rule as the goal they scored was considered legal in the group stage match against Nigeria in the Nations Cup tournament held in Morocco in 1988.

The goal by Roger Milla canceled Late Samuel Okwaraji’s brilliant early lead for Nigeria. The match ended 1-1 a piece.

Most local pundits and Nigerian bench felt the team was robbed, that the centre referee judgment was wrong to have allowed that goal.

The Nigerian coaches insisted that it should have been ruled an offside.

However, the new rule was later interpreted to the team to avoid such mistakes in their subsequent games.

FIFA has been striving to improve the behavior of players during matches and thus call for changes in the rules.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino sees women as role models for male players because there is less simulation and time wasting in the women’s game.

According to Infantino, it was time for men to clean up their act to improve the image of soccer.

“The men’s game has developed incredibly, positively, but a few maybe side effects have unfortunately developed as well that we are fighting now,” Infantino said at the AGM in Scotland.

“Let’s take the example of the women’s game.”

Infantino’s admiration for the conduct of female players stands in contrast to predecessor Sepp Blatter, who urged them to wear tighter kits to make the game more popular.

“Women are nicer than men, probably, generally,” Infantino said. “Sometimes we men feel that we need to show how strong we are, probably in the human nature, and this is reflected as well in some of the behavior in society in general but also on the football pitch,” he remarked.