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Football offside rule changed to reduce confusion

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EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Football's rule-makers have sought to clarify one of the game's most misinterpreted laws — offside — in a bid to reduce widespread uncertainty for referees, players and fans.

In a change to take effect from July 1, the International Football Association Board decided on Saturday to clear up when exactly attackers are influencing play.

The change states that an attacker should be considered offside when "gaining an advantage by being in that position" in situations that will now include receiving the ball from a rebound or deflection from the goal frame or a player in the defending team attempting a tackle, block or save.

IFAB, which comprises officials from FIFA and the four British football associations, also attempted to safeguard its future by opening up its decision-making process.

With the organization of world football undergoing an overhaul under the wake of a series of corruption scandals, there were calls for the British to cede their influence on IFAB, which has been meeting since 1886.

But at the annual IFAB meeting in Edinburgh, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said "this institution will go on."

"I am sure it will not be a victim of the reform of FIFA," Blatter added.

FIFA is looking to take greater control of IFAB by establishing a new unit to run the body while stressing that the "composition will remain unchanged."

IFAB has agreed, however, to consult more by establishing a technical panel featuring refereeing experts and a football panel containing around 20 former players and coaches as well as current coaches.

"The IFAB has agreed that greater levels of consultation are required to provide greater transparency and opportunities for other associations and stakeholders to contribute with ideas and initiatives to benefit the game," Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said. "This will need to be approved by FIFA Congress in May."

IFAB meetings had previously been bitterly divided by the issue of goal-line technology, but the issue has been settled in the last year after FIFA President Sepp Blatter ended his opposition to high-tech aids being given to referees.

FIFA announced Friday that a fourth system had been licensed. GoalControl-4D, which uses seven high-speed cameras aimed at each goalmouth, joins another camera-based system, Hawk-Eye, and two other projects — GoalRef and Cairos — which use magnetic field technology to judge if the ball crossed the line.

FIFA is yet to disclose the costs of the technology, but FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said the cheapest costs around $100,000 to install in a stadium and maintain.

Valcke was speaking after IFAB approved the use of the goal-line technology decision sent to referees' watches also being seen by television viewers and in stadiums on big screens.

IFAB also decided that competition organizers can allow the technology to be used in competitions, such as World Cup qualifiers, even if not all countries have systems in place.

The IFAB delegates deferred two decisions.

Instead of approving trials of electronic chips in players' shirts which could potentially warn of medical problems, a group of experts will examine the benefits of such devices in the next year. Electronic communication between players and staff is currently banned.

IFAB also wants further consultation before deciding whether to close a loophole on goals following uncontested dropped balls.

The rule change being considered would stop a goal being allowed if one team expecting to receive the ball after an uncontested drop has not touched it before their opponents scored.

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