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Panel mulls changing offside law

ZURICH -- FIFA's rules-making panel will consider changing how the offside law is interpreted at its annual meeting next month.

FIFA says the panel, known as IFAB, has been asked to make it clearer for referees to rule when a player in an offside position is interfering with play. FIFA believes the current wording leaves too much room for interpretation by referees.

As it stands, the rule says a player is judged to be interfering by "clearly obstructing an opponent's vision or movements, or making a gesture or movement which in the opinion of the referee deceives or distracts an opponent."

FIFA's proposed new wording drops any reference to a referee's opinion, simply stating: "a player is judged to be interfering by 'clearly obstructing an opponent's vision or challenging an opponent for the ball.' "

The new wording should make it easier for a player in an offside position to be judged as not interfering with an opponent.

IFAB will also examine closing a loophole regarding uncontested dropped balls, after a controversial goal scored by Shakhtar Donetsk against Nordsjaelland in the Champions League.

IFAB has proposed keeping the drop ball rule the same but adding "not touched by another player" to the wording to clarify the meaning of "direct." The rule sees a goal kick awarded if the ball is kicked directly into an opponent's goal from a drop ball, while a corner is given if the ball is kicked directly into a player's own goal without being touched by another player.

The group comprising FIFA and four British soccer associations will be updated on introducing goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup when it meets March 1-2 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

IFAB will have an update on the first use of goal-line technology at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December. It is understood that all the goals scored were registered correctly by the equipment.

The board will also review the additional referee's assistants used in matches by UEFA, but not by FIFA.The officials are employed behind the goals in Champions League, Europa League and European Championship matches.

It will also debate how to respond to calls to make it more transparent and democratic.

It will not discuss the "triple punishment," which would automatical suspend a player who gives away a penalty and is sent off. Critics say a penalty on its own should be sufficient punishment for non-violent fouls.

Franz Beckenbauer led a FIFA working group which suggested replacing the red card with a yellow except in the case of dangerous tackles. The IFAB examined that proposal a year ago, but it is not on the agenda for the meeting in Edinburgh.

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.

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