Players are no longer kneeling before every game and instead will take the knee on certain days this season (opening day, Boxing Day, etc.). The Premier League club captains voted for this change because they believe that doing this on certain match days – rather than every match – will help amplify the message. As a group, the Premier League captains said:
“We have decided to select significant moments to take the knee during the season to highlight our unity against all forms of racism and in so doing we continue to show solidarity for a common cause.
We remain resolutely committed to eradicate racial prejudice and to bring about an inclusive society with respect and equal opportunities for all.”
UEFA and FIFA responded by saying that they will still only fine clubs and supporters 399 Euros for any acts of overt racism from the stands.
In a surprise move bringing the Premier League in line with the rest of world football, teams will be allowed five subs per game this season. That means that Arteta could sub Nuno on and then back off again without worrying as much about how it effects his ability to sub Nuno’s sub off. In addition to five subs, teams will be also allowed to have six grinders, three hoagies, two heroes, and one Philly Cheesesteak.
All players will be required to undergo mandatory sexual consent training. This is a change from previous seasons where only young players were required to attend classes on consent and sexual assault. Now, every club must train every player or face fines.
The change follows meetings last season with three groups seeking to confront gender-based violence in the game. The groups are End Violence for Women, the Three Hijabis and Level Up and they wrote an open letter to Richard Masters last season asking that the Premier League and FA “confront a culture of gender-based violence” in the game by adopting four new policies:
- Introduce mandatory training for all players, managers, coaches and owners on gender-based violence.
- Introduce a Tackling Gender-Based Violence Charter for clubs to sign up to that sets out minimum standards for policies and action to tackle unacceptable behaviour.
- To adopt clear sexual misconduct policies and protocols with the power to impose appropriate consequences and disciplinary action on players, from suspension without pay to lifetime bans.
- For Academies to introduce prevention programmes for young people that take a “Whole Club Approach” to eliminating violence against women in football.
Mandatory consent training was one of the suggested actions and the one which the Premier League adopted. However there is widespread frustration that the FA (which governs the rules on suspensions and bans) has not adopted automatic suspensions for players accused of rape. Shaista Aziz, co-director of the Three Hijabis, said of the FA “It is inconsistent and inconceivable that, in 2022, you can have a high-profile footballer accused of these very serious crimes and his employer says: ‘It’s OK, he can carry on going to work.’ It’s outrageous, and it completely goes against the grain of our open letter.”
I strongly agree with this statement and with the work of these three groups to help put an end to gender-based violence in football.
For those of us who have watched any other country play football, it’s been a source of mirth that in the Premier League, when the ball is hoofed out of play – which is often – players stand around and demand the same ball back. It has been a terrific time-wasting tactic for clubs like Bolton and Burnley down the years but with both of them out of the Premier League, it seems to have been retired and starting in 2022, the Premier League will have 8 balls stationed around the pitch on cones, just waiting to be used. In addition, the fourth official will have a ball and if a player is able to ping a shot off the fourth official then all of the balls will be released at the same time and teams will have to play with 10 balls until all balls go out of touch again. Hence the name “multi-ball”.
One foot behind the line
Last season goal-keepers were required to keep one foot on the line during penalties. This season they will be required to have one foot behind the line at the moment of impact during penalties. Though this may seem counter intuitive the new rule is supposed to help keepers by allowing them a run-up during a penalty kick.
Mike Riley is supposedly retiring as director of PGMOB (the body which governs officials in the Premier League) in December and Howard Webb is taking over.
Webb is famous for incorrectly sending off Emmanuel Adebayor in the 2007 League Cup final against Chelsea. Eboue seemed to sort of steam in on Wayne Briodge who pretended he’d been punched and Howard Webb immediately sent off Adebayor. Adebayor reacted furiously and refused to leave the pitch in a timely fashion. Adebayor’s suspension was upheld, however, after a report by the linesman said that Adebayor punched Frank Lampard (a different incident). Arsene Wenger later got in trouble for calling the report “a complete lie” and asking for Lampard to publicly state whether he’d been punched or not. Lampard confirmed that he had not, in fact, been punched by Adebayor.
Webb is also famous for the World Cup final debacle between Spain and the Netherlands in which Nigel de Jong kung-fu kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest in the opening few minutes of the match as Webb looked directly at the action. De Jong later said that maybe his personal relationship with Webb (de Jong played in the Premier League at the time) helped as he told the referee “listen, it was accidental, don’t make such a big decision so early in the game.” Webb showed de Jong a yellow card which then set the tone for one of the most brutal World Cup finals since any match that Maradona played in. Seriously, you have to watch clips of Maradona, the man was targeted with egregious fouls, which were egregious even for their time.
Webb’s record as referee in Arsenal matches is among the most curious of any referee. In 39 games he awarded Arsenal just two penalties and both times he also awarded the opponent a penalty (Arsenal 6-2 win over Blackburn and the infamous 8-2 loss to Man U). He also awarded Arsenal’s opponents 7 penalties and dished out 6 red cards against Arsenal players and just two against opposition players.
Of all the referees of the last 20 years, he’s the one who I think of as most like Mike Riley. So, as The Who once said, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
As of this report, Webb’s wife will also serve on the board as the Women’s Select Group Director.