Peter Walton, general manager of the Professional Referee Organization, has announced that referees will prioritize “four points of emphasis” in 2017.
Walton said that MLS referees have been instructed to pay closer attention to holding and pushing in the penalty area on set pieces, acts of visual dissent, deliberate delaying of restarts, and persistent infringement.
In addition, MLS has adopted several new laws this season based on the IFAB, or International Football Association Board, who decides the rules.
The major changes include no longer automatically giving red cards for denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity in the penalty area, kickoffs now being permitted to be played in any direction, and players who were injured by a yellow or red card foul now being able to briefly receive treatment on the field without having to come off.
So about those rule changes...
Holding and pushing in the penalty area
I’m all in favor of this. The less unwanted bear hugs in the box, the better.
Acts of visual dissent
No more throwing arms in the air? Imagine Robbie Keane having to get used to that rule.
You know that jerk who picks up the ball after a foul, runs 20 yards with it then flings it in the air? With any luck, his day of reckoning is soon coming.
Another excellent call: Giovani dos Santos was the victim of persistent infringement often last season and needs more protection.
Thoughts? I like what PRO has done here. As fun as the league is becoming to watch, there are too many games still dictated by the cheap tactics these points of emphasis are looking to crack down on.
PRO deserve credit for trying to clean up the action: If they can get the job done however, remains to be seen.