Football: Board to give kick-ins a try

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AFTER the ban on the back-pass, provisional permission was yesterday given to Fifa and Uefa to change the face of football yet more. At the World Youth Cup in Australia next month sudden death will be played in the event of a draw at full-time in the knock-out stages of the competition. And an under-17 tournament in Japan in August will see the introduction (or re-introduction as football historians would insist) of the kick-in when the ball crosses the touchline.

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa general secretary, expressed his doubts that sudden death would be implemented in time for the World Cup in the United States next year - the International FA Board does not meet again until March 1994 - but it is worth greeting those doubts with scepticism.

At the meeting of the board, also attended by Joao Havelange, Fifa's president, Sir Bert Millichip, the FA chairman, and the chief executives of the four home unions, other amendments to the laws were also discussed. From July onwards one figure in the dug-out, designated 'the technical area', will be allowed to 'convey tactical instructions' to the team on the pitch, provided they 'conduct themselves in a responsible manner'. 'It is permitted to coach,' Graham Kelly, the chief executive of the FA, said. 'It is not permitted to harangue the referee or the linesmen.'

The meeting, in Thundridge, Hertfordshire, was described as 'constructive and amicable', but it remains to be seen how amicably the experimental changes will be received by non-administrators - managers, players, and spectators. Several rule-changes have been the subject of experimentation in previous youth tournaments, and by no means all of them were then ratified. But the back-pass got through, and the kick-in, already tried out in France in the 1970s, will now be given a chance.

'Today the game is all stocked in midfield,' Blatter said. 'My opinion is that it will give more space in the game.' Should Japan be a success, the Hungarian League has offered to test the kick-in at a more senior level.

Other amendments were made. It will now be a bookable offence to use 'deliberate tricks' to circumvent the back-pass law - tricks such as that used by a German player who went down on bended knee to avoid kicking the ball back to his goalkeeper.

Referees will also be asked to clamp down on the four-step rule preventing goalkeepers from taking too many paces with the ball in their hands. Eye-balling the London correspondent of the Gazzetta Dello Sport, Mr Blatter said that at the moment 'it is a 16- step rule'.