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Updated Thursday April 13, 2000
Six-second rule hits Euro 2000 keepers
By Andy Hooper

Goalkeepers will have to release the ball within six seconds as part of law changes that will take effect in time for the European Championships.

Decisions made by football's law-makers are normaly introduced on July 1, but UEFA's executive committee has brought forward its latest rulings to encompass Euro 2000 which begins on June 10.

Apart from the new goalkeeper ruling, linesmen will also be empowered to go on to the field of play, especially to help the referee enforce the 10-metre rule at free-kicks.

Linesmen will also be able to advise the referee immediately if he has identified the wrong player to be cautioned or sent off. Until now, linesmen could not advise the referee he had made an error until after the match.

The fourth official has also been given greater powers and can take a greater part in helping to control the match especially if he sees any indiscipline missed by the referee or linesman.

'Effectively the fourth official now has the same rights as the linesman and referee but of course the referee still has the ultimate decision on all matters on the field of play,' said UEFA spokesman Graham Turner.

The new amendments to the laws, passed by the International Board in February, also include a change to the rules of penalty shoot-outs.

If a team ends a match with fewer players than their opponents because of sendings off, the team with 11 players must reduce their penalty takers to the number of players that their opponents have left.

But the executive committee took no decision on possible changes to the Champions League which will be discussed again in the future.

Earlier UEFA president Lennart Johansson said he would not be disappointed if there was a reduction in the size of the competition, which was expanded to 32 teams this season.

One suggestion considered by the board was to abolish the league system in the second phase of the competition and go straight into a knockout phase when the 32 teams are reduced to 16.

But clubs would be reluctant to play fewer lucrative matches in the tournament even though the general agreement is that the 17 matches the two finalists are forced to play are too many.

One possible solution is that the prize money for the clubs could be re-apportioned.

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