TOWARDS the end of last season, I wrote an article for a refereeing magazine, entitled ‘Don’t underestimate the law of unintended consequences.'

I listed many instances where players overcame law changes in ways that were not envisaged.

For example, when the four-step rule was introduced to speed up the game, goalkeepers could not take more than four steps while carrying the ball. However, a goalkeeper could just stand still for as long as he liked.

Also, opposing players stood in front of the goalkeeper after his four steps to prevent him releasing the ball.

The six-second rule was then introduced and it was made an offence to prevent the goalkeeper from releasing the ball into play.

Would there I wondered, be any unexpected consequences for the 27 changes which we were told to expect?

I haven’t had to wait long with the new law for goal-kicks, which I outlined last week.

In the AC Milan v Barcelona pre-season friendly, the goalkeeper 'flicked’ a goal-kick up to a teammate in the penalty area, who headed the ball back to him.

The goalkeeper caught it, then threw it to another teammate up the field, to set up an attack.

So, what is wrong with that you may ask? The fact is there is a Law which says ‘a player should be shown a yellow card if he uses a deliberate trick to pass the ball to the goalkeeper with his head, chest, knee etc to circumvent the law, whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with his hands.’

This of course came in when clever players started to flick the ball up so they could head the ball to the goalkeeper, after the law was introduced that goalkeepers couldn’t handle the ball if it was deliberately kicked to them by a teammate.

The IFAB can’t give a ruling on this new ‘trick’ until it has been discussed by the technical sub-committee.

In the meantime, if it happens to them, referees are advised to have the goal-kick retaken, but without a yellow card.