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You snood, you lose

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and Supporters Direct merged to become the FSA in 2019 – so this page may contain hyperlinks that do not work and/or have missing files. Our archived pages are not maintained and will not be updated.

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Saturday marked an historic day for football as the game’s law-makers the International Football Association Board (IFAB) banned the snood – was this the right decision? See the Football Supporters’ Federation’s poll (left) and have your say on this momentous change. All newly approved rule changes kick in on Friday 1st July 2011.

But who makes up IFAB and how are the rules for the world’s most popular sport set? Read on to find out…

As well as saying sayonara to the snood on health and safety grounds IFAB extended the testing period for goal-line technology and approved the use of additional assistant referees, as seen in the Europa League, for Euro 2012. The most unusual item on IFAB’s agenda was “vanishing spray” which allows referees to mark a temporary line in the grass to prevent encroachment at free kicks. South American confederation CONMEBOL has been granted approval to trial the use of vanishing spray.

IFAB has five members whose votes determine the laws of the game and the United Kingdom’s FAs have a very significant role. IFAB is made up of the national FAs of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, along with the world game’s governing body FIFA. The Home Nation FAs all have one vote while FIFA has four votes and, no matter how big or small, six votes are required to implement any rule change.

This leads to an intriguing balance of power whereby FIFA, holding four of the eight votes, can veto any proposed rule change as six votes are required to pass any change in the laws of the game. This is because the Home Nations FAs can muster only four votes between them without the support of FIFA. Similarly, if FIFA wishes to change any laws, the game’s governing body must win the support of two of the Home Nations FAs as FIFA’s four votes plus two would be enough to trigger a change. 

That structure is worth bearing in mind the next time you hear a fellow fan or ex-pro berating FIFA for not changing the game’s laws immediately after the latest controversy. Even as the dominant force on football’s law-making body, FIFA on its own can’t change a thing. In many ways this conservative set-up has benefited football – the game is still remarkably easy to understand because the rules are relatively simple, stable, and cannot be changed on a whim.

IFAB meets twice a year with an Annual General Meeting (AGM) in February or March, to which confederations such as UEFA can propose rule changes, and an Annual Business Meeting (ABM) in September or October. The AGM debates possible changes to football’s laws while the ABM focuses on internal business. Changes to football’s laws must be implemented by Friday 1st July 2011 (unless a season is ongoing in which case changes can be delayed until the following season’s start). This means Premier League stars can continue to strut their stuff in a snood for the rest of the 2010/11 season.

  • Where do you stand on the snood? Are IFAB right to ban neck wear on health and safety grounds? Or should the Save Our Snood (SOS) campaign begin here in earnest? Let the FSF know via our poll (left).

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