Players can be red carded for deliberate coughing under English football’s new Covid-19 guidelines

The measures, released last week, apply to the restart of grassroots football in England amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Players may be sent off if the referee is “certain that someone has coughed deliberately and closely into the face of an opponent or a match official”, according to the guidelines, which will take effect immediately.

“Given the current situation relating to Covid-19, if a player deliberately coughs in the face of another player, team official or match official, this could be considered under Law 12, an offense of deportation consisting of ‘using an offense, insulting or abusive language and / or gestures,’ said a spokesperson for the International Football Association Board, the sport’s legislative body.

“As with all infractions, the referee must make a judgment as to the true nature of the infringement – if it was clearly accidental then the referee would not act nor if the ‘cough’ took place with a great distance between the players. .

“However, where it is close enough to be clearly offensive, then the referee can act. This is not a new ‘rule’ but simply an interpretation of Law 12.”

The guidelines add that referees “should not seek to punish ‘routine’ coughing.” A yellow card could also be issued if the incident is not deemed serious enough to warrant dismissal.

Players and referees are also encouraged to avoid spitting and shouting, and it is advisable to avoid physical contact during goal celebrations.

The FA guidelines were introduced as the country continues to break free from lockdown, although some localized lockdowns have been implemented in England amid fears of a second wave of infection.

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