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  • England players given crash course over new World Cup disciplinary rules

    • Referees are allowed to take retrospective action during games
    • Gareth Southgate is anxious his team understand the changes

    England’s footballers are to be given a crash course in the new disciplinary rules being implemented in time for the World Cup amid concerns behind the scenes that Gareth Southgate’s players do not fully understand the changes that could mean retrospective action taking place in the same matches.

    Southgate has held one meeting with his squad to explain there will be a new regulation, to work alongside VAR, whereby match officials can be made aware of incidents that went unnoticed at the time and the relevant players can face yellow or red cards.

    That meeting took place on Saturday morning at England’s team hotel when the manager explained to his players that their on-pitch behaviour will be under scrutiny like never before. Referees will now have the powers to take action at half-time, for example, if they are made aware of an incident from the opening 45 minutes.

    “Not that we are looking to get away with anything, but if we thought we could that’s gone now,” Southgate said. “We have to be vigilant in all areas of the pitch.

    “We’re not 100% sure yet [of the rule] until we have the full briefing on whether this situation – something happening 20 minutes before half-time and then [punishment] being implemented at half-time – is a reality. But there have been tackles in recent games that would be pulled up and might be yellow or red cards. For all our players, it’s something we have to be aware of.”


    One example was a two-footed challenge by Ashley Young on Davide Zappacosta during the friendly against Italy in March. Southgate also explained that, in theory, players attempting to con the referees by diving will not get away with it like they have before – and are now more likely to be punished for it, whether that means at the time or later in the same game.

    Raheem Sterling was booked for a penalty-area dive in the 2-1 friendly victory against Nigeria on Saturday, just a matter of hours after Southgate had organised a meeting specifically to deal with this kind of incident, but the England manager said he was confident that the players would understand the increased dangers by the time they flew to Russia on Tuesday week.

    “They recognised that this is going to come in,” Southgate said, when asked whether the players had grasped the rule changes. “It’s a system everybody is still getting used to and how it’s implemented is going to be key.

    “If you look at any corner, for example, and go looking for infringements you could find hundreds. How that is going to be interpreted is going to be really important for the consistency in the tournament.

    “I’m in favour [of retrospective action] for the clear and obvious errors because there have been big moments in huge tournaments – the Zidane head‑butt, the Maradona handball goal – that could be sorted out very quickly and would be an asset. The smaller fouls where there’s more interpretation involved, even when it’s been watched two or three times – I think that’s really difficult.”


    Southgate was reluctant to criticise Sterling for his dive after a week of intense scrutiny on the Manchester City player. However, the manager volunteered that he had been giving serious consideration to dropping Sterling for reporting a day late from a holiday in Jamaica. Sterling, in turn, has said he would have accepted losing his place as punishment.

    “Look, I have been a player and I know that when things get sloppy there is a danger that standards drop,” Southgate said. “We have to make sure we maintain our standards at all times. I felt there’s a fine line [about dropping him]. I have to have some consistency in how I deal with the group and I had a conversation with him around what our expectations were. But equally I knew that if I left him out, after everything that has happened, there’s a huge story.

    “I wanted him to play. I wanted him to get on with his football, get on with playing and get back into it as quickly as possible.

    “I have to manage the group the best way possible – and it’s important the players feel protected [by their manager] – but we also need discipline and we are always trying to strike that balance. I have to keep people focused, across the board.”

    England now move on to the game against Costa Rica at Leeds on Thursday, their final warm-up match for the World Cup, but Southgate is also planning an 11-v-11 practice match for his players the following Monday. The manager is intent on using a 3‑3‑2‑2 formation in the World Cup, with England’s first game at the finals coming against Tunisia in Volgograd on 18 June.

  • Nice one Tony

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    • Haha, really?

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      • Originally posted by TeamBankroll Alex View Post
        Nice one Tony
        Good one Tony

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        • Wow big changes indeed.

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