Coronavirus: FA issues new rules including red cards for deliberate coughing amid pandemic

Players who deliberately cough at opponents or referees can be shown red or yellow cards under new FA guidelines issued amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The instructions to referees taking charge of games when COVID-19 restrictions are in place will come into force immediately and be applied at all levels of the game.

The FA said action should be taken when “the referee is certain someone deliberately, and from close range, coughed into the face of an opponent or match official.”

It added that the offence would fall under the category of “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.

“If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour – shows a lack of respect for the game’.”

The document added that referees must not look to punish “routine” coughing and should remind players to avoid spitting on the ground, although it is not an act of misconduct.

The use of five substitutes next season has been approved by football’s lawmakers, the IFAB, though each competition will be free to decide whether or not to take up the new ruling.

Clubs discussed the idea at their final shareholders’ meeting before the end of the 2019/20 season but a vote is not expected to take place until the next AGM – when all 20 clubs have been confirmed for the new term – on August 6.

PGMOL chief Mike Riley presented a VAR review to clubs in their July meeting and the Premier League is expected to hold talks with FIFA during the summer break. FIFA’s top officials, including Gianni Infantino, Pierluigi Collina and Arsene Wenger, have been critical of VAR’s inconsistent use in some competitions.

Meanwhile, plenty of clubs have released new strips for the forthcoming campaign and Nike has released its new ‘Flight’ ball – one they said addresses “inconsistent aerodynamics”.