Infantino: Male players can learn from better behaved women

FIFA President Gianni Infantino holds the official ball of the upcoming Women's Soccer World Championship as he poses for photographers during a press conference at the end of an executive committee meeting in Rome, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ABERDEEN, Scotland — Striving to improve behavior at soccer matches, FIFA President Gianni Infantino sees women as role models for male players.

There is less simulation and time wasting in the women's game, according to Infantino, and it's time for men to clean up their act to improve the image of soccer.

"The men's game has developed incredibly, positively, but a few maybe side effects have unfortunately developed as well that we are fighting now," Infantino said Saturday. "Let's take the example of the women's game."

Infantino's admiration for the conduct of female players stands in contrast to predecessor Sepp Blatter, who urged them to wear tighter kits to make the game more popular.

"Women are nicer than men, probably, generally," Infantino said. "Sometimes we men feel that we need to show how strong we are, probably in the human nature, and this is reflected as well in some of the behavior in society in general but also on the football pitch."

Infantino was speaking after the game's lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board, discussed ways of improving on-field behavior at its annual meeting, including treatment of referees. Yellow and red cards for misconduct by team officials are now entered in the laws of the game after successful trials.

"When it comes to behavior," Infantino said, "if there's something to learn from the women's game ... it's certainly this: This is much less time lost and wasted on simulations or on other situations we criticize in the men's game. We are intervening now."

Such as ensuring someone substituted "doesn't greet all the players before going out (leaving the pitch) and so on — wasting time," Infantino said. "All the things you don't see in the women's game."

Diving has been reduced by the introduction of video review, Infantino said, while announcing his support for VAR at the June 7-July 7 Women's World Cup in France. The decision will have to be ratified by the FIFA Council at a meeting in two weeks in Miami.

"Players now know that it's not just sufficient to have a look where is the referee, so if he doesn't see me I can simulate, because he or she will be caught," Infantino said. "That's why VAR automatically helps the fight against simulation and diving in a very efficient way."

HAND BALLS

To reduce controversies, the handball law has been adjusted.

Referees won't necessarily have to decide if there was deliberate handling, but judge the outcome and whether an unfair advantage was obtained by gaining possession or control of the ball.

It won't be an offense if the arm or hand is very close to the body but it will be if they are in an elevated position when the ball is handled. But even if a player accidentally handled while scoring, the goal would be ruled out.

KICKS AND PENALTIES

Disruptive behavior around free kicks should be reduced from June. The attacking team will not be allowed within 1 meter (yard) of the defensive wall in an attempt to stop players jostling and matches being delayed by the necessary intervention of referees.

In two changes affecting goalkeepers, goal kicks won't have to leave the penalty area and only one foot will have to remain on the line when facing a penalty.

SUBSTITUTES

To speed up the game, players being substituted must leave the field at the nearest point rather than at the halfway line.

"It's a fairly standard time-wasting tactic that when a manager wants to make a substitution, he can send a player to be substituted to the opposite end of the pitch," said Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell, one of the eight IFAB members.

FIFA has four delegates and the British nations have the other four, with six votes required for a change to the laws which come into effect from June.

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Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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