Soccer could soon be taking a page out of other sports' rulebooks after the International Football Association Board approved a trial of sin bins during the organization's annual business meeting on Tuesday.
IFAB has not offered many specifics on the sin bin trial, nor has set a timeline to test the rule. It is eyeing the measure as a way to curb player behavior and bolster respect for match officials during a given match and potentially serve as an in-between for yellow card and red card offenses.
It was the most notable update from this week's meeting, which will set the agenda for the IFAB's annual general meeting on March 2, where they will approve any new rules of the game that could go into effect as early as July 2024.
Here's what you need to know about the potential sin bin rule that could soon impact a team near you.
What is a sin bin and is there precedent?
Sin bins were introduced to the grassroots game in England for the 2019-20 season and allowed referees to show a yellow card to a player and subsequently point both arms towards the sidelines. Think hockey's penalty box, in a way. That player would then sit out for 10 minutes and either stay in their team's technical area or watch from the touchline before being waved back on during play.
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If that same player is sent to the sin bin a second time during the same game, they will not be allowed back in but can be substituted out if their team has subs remaining. A double sin bin offense is seemingly more lenient than traditionally picking up two yellow cards, which would see a team go down to 10.
The FA said that 72% of players, 77% of managers and 84% of referees in the grassroots game approved of the sin bin rule and that it led to a 38% decrease in dissent.
"The success of sin bins in the grassroots game has been prevention rather than cure," FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, per The Athletic. "You get to a point where players know about the threat of sin bins so they don't transgress."
The IFAB has not yet committed to applying the sin bin rule in the professional game in the exact same format as it has at England's grassroots level, but the two guidelines will likely share similarities.
Sin bin offenses
"The areas we're looking at is dissent and tactical fouls," Bullingham said, "There is real frustration with fans when they see a counter attack that is ruined by that and whether a yellow card is sufficient for that."
Per the report, an example of a tactical foul that could result in a temporary dismissal is Giorgio Chiellini's foul on Bukayo Saka during the Euro 2020 final, when the Italian tugged the Englishman's shirt and brought him down.
The professional trial run
The IFAB wants to test out sin bins in the professional game, but has not yet nailed down where to begin. Bullingham was non-committal when asked if the FA Cup or the Women's Super League could be a pioneer in this space, but The Athletic reports that MLS could be the first league to try the new rule out.
The organization reportedly wants to trial the rule in a high-profile league, and the North American league could fit the bill. MLS said it plans to review the announcement for "potential consideration in MLS or MLS NEXT Pro," which is home to the league's reserve teams.
MLS has not set a start date for the 2024 season, but it is expected to begin later in the winter.