Footballers could be sent off if they deliberately cough at an opponent under new rules issued during the coronavirus pandemic.
Referees will be told that coughs aimed at the face of another player or an official can be deemed a red-card offence.
The guidance has been announced by the International Football Association Board (IAFB), which determines the laws of the game.
An IFAB spokesperson said that “given the current situation relating to COVID-19, if a player deliberately coughed in the face of another player, team official or match official” it could be deemed the sending-off offence of “using offence, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”.
According to the new guidelines, referees will need to make a judgement as to whether the cough was deliberate and also take into account the distance between the people involved.
The English Football Association (FA) had previously said red or yellow cards could be issued for the offence.
The rules should be imposed at all levels of the game and 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”, the FA said.
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It added: “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’.”
In March, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said people who claim to have coronavirus and cough towards police officers and other emergency workers will be charged with assault.
The CPS said such behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic is illegal, adding that assaults specifically against emergency workers were punishable by up to two years in prison.
Source : Sky News