If you've been paying attention to the European Championships this year, you may have noticed that one of the first rules of the games you'll have learned as a youth has been done away with. Wales Online are among the most eagle-eyed of viewers, and they have today pointed out the fact that the kick-off rule has been altered beyond recognition.
The rule that the ball must go forward on kick-off has been abolished, meaning that it is no longer necessary for two players to be in the centre circle for kick-off. It is just one of a number of rules changed by the International Football Association Board earlier this year. The rules came into effect for this year's competition.
Former referee and friend to Roy Keane David Elleray spoke to The Guardian on the issue a number of months ago, saying that the rule changes were intended on making the rule book clearer. On the kick-off he said:
The current law says the ball must go forward at kick-off and players have to be in their own half. The rule is being changed to allow the ball to go in any direction at kick-off as long as it moves.
There were a number of other changes made also, including this on blocking goals:
If a [non-playing] substitute at the moment comes on and dives and stops the goal, it is an indirect free-kick. And then there is the unlikely but not unforeseen situation in which a team physician comes on to the field during play. If the doctor does it, it is a drop ball, which again is wrong for football. Their team benefits from breaking the law. So they will become direct free-kicks or penalty kicks.
And this on tunnel fights, as players can now be sent off before the game:
[Fighting players] would be banned from playing the match but both teams would still start with 11 because they would be able to use one of the named substitutes. They would lose a substitute.
Elleray cited the example of Patrick Viera and Roy Keane, because of course he bloody did.
Read the full rule changes here.