While they may look like a cure for insomnia when they first land in your inbox, the latest chunky updates from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) update have plenty going for them.
To give the documents their full name, they go under the title Laws of the Game 2017/18: law changes, Practical Guideline changes, Guidelines for Temporary dismissals (sin bins) and Guidelines for Return substitutions.
The bigger picture is they represent the second part of an attempt by IFAB to update the language of the Laws. Here at the Danish federation I am lucky, because I am far from alone in tackling the many pages, and our dedicated committee involves those responsible for interpreting the interpretations, which is thankfully not part of my job description! One way or another we will be fully prepared for July 1st, when these changes are due to come into effect.
The main thing is that it is good for all people, refs included, to understand the language used within the Laws, and we are talking about terms which have not changed in some cases for over 100 years.
There are times when it is important to stress the intention more than the exact word of the Laws; people deserve clear explanations, to see how we use those Laws, and I welcome any move to standardise our interpretation in a universal way. In Denmark we play our part in feeding back to the Technical Advisory Panel, almost half of which is British, by the way.
Another interesting aspect of the most recent documents is the potential for wider use of the sin bin. In Denmark we have had this for over 20 years at the lower levels and it does not cause as many problems as you might expect.
Players who rise to a level where they no longer temporarily leave the pitch after a yellow card do not seem to have trouble adjusting, maybe because of how much top football they watch on television.
As for referees getting used to the difference, I have never known those who get promoted to suffer any confusion and in any case they always have plenty of friendly advice available in the shape of other officials, players and supporters!
I feel it works well enough to consider using in senior major competitions in future, although I would expect a lot of trials at intermediary level first, for instance the UEFA Youth League or any number of tournaments that take place between seasons.
The only serious complaint I know of is that those players who have to come back on need to warm up again, which can be a real problem in the winter months. But even here, at the elite levels, you would not expect players to be stood there, shivering, with so much modern kit available.
The upside of sin bins may seem obvious but it really does help improve fairness in the game. The player in question is punished immediately, so that the advantage is felt by the current opponent and not by the opponents for the match or matches which follow. This direct advantage is an improvement, without question, so we must simply ensure that everyone knows exactly where they stand, if and when the decision is taken to adopt this system.
Until next time, don’t forget to download those documents from IFAB and take them to bed with you!
Vi ses (see you later), Kim.