An involuntary hand having provided a scoring opportunity for a teammate will no longer be penalized, the International Board (Ifab), guarantor of the laws of football, decided on Friday, also calling on the referees to use discernment.

This clarification must be added from July to Rule 12 of the Laws of the Game, amended in 2019 and since then the source of countless controversies due to penalties awarded after unintentional hands.

UEFA even asked Fifa last November to change its rule on hand faults in the area, deploring “many unfair decisions that have caused growing frustration and discomfort in the football community.”

Meeting in general assembly by videoconference, Ifab amended its text only marginally, in the event that an accidental hand “leads to a goal scored by a teammate, or a goal opportunity”.

This case arose for example Thursday night in the Premier League, when Fulham was denied a goal against Tottenham (0-1), because a Spurs player had cleared the ball in the direction of the hand of midfielder Mario Lemina, before Josh Maja scores.

Ifab has also “clarified” its guidelines on hand faults, acknowledging that “the interpretation of incidents related to hands has not always been consistent due to incorrect application” of the rule.

“Any contact of the hand or the arm of a player with the ball does not constitute a fault”, insists the International Board, inviting the referees to “use their judgment” rather than to whistle systematically.

In particular, they need to assess whether a player “increased his body area” by spreading his arm or hand, in a manner “not justified by the movement of the body in a specific situation”, a particularly complex criterion.

Among other topics discussed, game keepers continue to “monitor” the impact of Covid-19 on football, which has already led them to allow up to five substitutions per game until the end of 2021 for club competitions, and until July 31, 2022 for international meetings.

Finally, Ifab gave an update on its experiment on concussions, consisting in introducing an additional permanent replacement in the event of suspected shock to the brain.

Fifa holds four out of eight votes in Ifab decisions, the other four being the historic property of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish Federations.