In light of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), a player who deliberately coughs at an opposing player or a referee during a football match can be punished with a red card, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has decided on Tuesday.
Players who get a red card in football are sent off the pitch and cannot return for the remainder of the match.
Even in professional football, where players are regularly tested and therefore presumed not to be infected with coronavirus, the IFAB said the referee may decide that coughing constitutes a dangerous or insulting gesture.
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"As with all rule violations, the referee will have to judge what the true nature of the violation is,” IFAB said. "If it is clearly accidental, the referee will not be required to act, just as if the cough occurred at a sufficient distance from any other player," they added.
The English Football Association also said on Tuesday that the measure would be applied to amateur football with immediate effect.
However, it was open to a simple warning for "unsporting behaviour" if the incident is not serious enough to warrant a red card.
The Brussels Times