A number of law changes have been approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) at its 2019 AGM this month, but false/misinformed reporting of the details have caused a degree of confusion in the immediate aftermath.

Stopping play after a penalty is saved to prevent goals being scored on the rebound was one of the ideas that had been up for discussion in recent months. It wasn't on the agenda at the AGM having been dropped some time ago, but influential media outlets like Sky Sports and Marca both wrongly reported that it was part of the updates, leading to the spread of false information.

People were subsequently commenting about this non-existent penalty rule on social media, while it also spawned content on popular blogs and other websites - Liverpool fansite 'Empire of the Kop' produced an article off the back of the 'news' and shared it to its 1.84m Twitter followers.

Sky Sports included the 'no rebound' law in a list of rule changes in an online article and even interviewed former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher for his opinion on what it would mean for football going forward.

However, this was not one of the new laws detailed in IFAB's official announcement. Sky later removed the erroneous section and clarified: 'This is an updated and corrected version of this article. The first edition mistakenly referred to a rule in relation to penalties which will not come into effect.'

It highlights once more how easily inaccurate information can spread online.

Journalist Martyn Ziegler highlighted the mistaken reporting on the faux penalty law and clarified, 'Not true - that idea was dropped in November.'

The real updates to the laws of the game can be found on the IFAB website.

Those changes that have been approved include a clearer and more precise definition of handball, which seeks to remove the term 'deliberate' from the debate and penalise 'non-deliberate/accidental' handball if it means one team gaining an unfair advantage.

'A goal scored directly from the hand/arm (even if accidental) and a player scoring or creating a goal-scoring opportunity after having gained possession/control of the ball from their hand/arm (even if accidental) will no longer be allowed.'

The goal Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero inadvertently scored with his arm against Arsenal last month would be ruled out in future.


Other changes include substituted players leaving the field of play 'at the nearest boundary line', a move which could help combat time wasting. Coaches and team officials will also be shown yellow and red cards instead of just verbal cautions and dismissals as is the case now.

The ball no longer needs to leave the penalty area at goal kicks or defensive free-kicks in the penalty area, while there are new measures to 'deal with attacking players causing problems in the defensive wall'. Drop balls will be used if the ball strikes the referee, and goalkeepers need only keep one foot on the goal line when facing a penalty.