England to get crash course on new disciplinary rules
World Cup will see on-pitch behaviour of players under scrutiny like never before
England’s Raheem Sterling gets a yellow card from referee Marco Guida after diving in the penalty area during a friendly against Nigeria on June 2nd. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA Wire
England’s footballers are to be given a crash course in the new disciplinary rules being implemented in time for the World Cup amid concerns behind the scenes that Gareth Southgate’s players do not fully understand changes that could mean retrospective action taking place in the same matches.
Southgate has held one meeting with his squad to explain there will be a new regulation, to work alongside video assistant referees (VAR), whereby match officials can be made aware of incidents that went unnoticed at the time and the relevant players can face yellow or red cards.
That meeting took place on Saturday morning at England’s team hotel when the manager explained to his players that their on-pitch behaviour will be under scrutiny like never before. Referees will now have the powers to take action at half-time, for example, if they are made aware of an incident from the opening 45 minutes.
“Not that we are looking to get away with anything, but if we thought we could that’s gone now,” Southgate said. “We have to be vigilant in all areas of the pitch.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure yet [of the rule] until we have the full briefing on whether this situation – something happening 20 minutes before half-time and then [punishment] being implemented at half-time – is a reality. But there have been tackles in recent games that would be pulled up and might be yellow or red cards. For all our players it’s something we have to be aware of.”
Southgate explained that, in theory, players attempting to con referees by diving will not get away with it like they have before, and are now more likely to be punished for it, whether that means at the time or later in the same game.
Raheem Sterling was booked for a penalty-box dive in the 2-1 friendly victory against Nigeria on Saturday, just a matter of hours after Southgate had organised a meeting specifically to deal with this kind of incident. However, the England manager said he was confident that the players would understand the increased dangers by the time they flew to Russia.
“They recognised that this is going to come in,” Southgate said, when asked whether the players had grasped the rule changes. “It’s a system everybody is still getting used to, and how it’s implemented is going to be key. If you look at any corner, for example, and go looking for infringements you could find hundreds. ”
Southgate was reluctant to criticise Sterling for his dive after a week of intense scrutiny on the Manchester City player. However, the manager volunteered that he had been giving serious consideration to dropping Sterling for reporting a day late from a holiday in Jamaica. Sterling, in turn, has said he would have accepted losing his place as punishment.
“Look, I have been a player and I know that when things get sloppy there is a danger that standards drop,” Southgate said. “We have to make sure we maintain our standards at all times. I felt there’s a fine line [about dropping him]. I have to have some consistency in how I deal with the group and I had a conversation with him around what our expectations were.”
England’s first game at the World Cup is against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18th. - Guardian service