New rules for the 2020/21 season

New season, new rules | Handball area of arm changed | Advantage rule | Goalkeeper rules for penalties

The new Bundesliga season is here! A new season means new rules. We have summarised the changes to the laws of the game here.


According to the new rules, a handball can only be awarded if the ball strikes the area from below the shoulder to the hand. This means that shoulders are no longer included, and if the ball strikes the shoulder it is no longer punishable.

In the case of scoring a goal following an accidental handball: According to new rules introduced by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), unintentional handballs will only be punished if the handball leads immediately to a direct goalscoring opportunity. However, if the accidental handball is followed by a series of passes or dribbling, play will continue with no foul.

Advantage rule

During the new season, (tactical) fouls that are followed by the advantage rule will no longer be puniished with a red card. If the offence could have warranted a red card an advatange has been played, the referee must give a yellow card at the next break in play. However, it is the referee's obligation to evaluate the offence and give a red card if he deems necessary.

Recommendations by the Video Assistant Referee

While Video Assistant Referees were not allowed to make recommendations to the on-field official in the past (with the exception of pointing out an obvious mistake), they are now allowed to make recommendations to the referee on fouls or offences carried out. The final decision however still lies with the on-field referee.

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A player in an offside position who receives the the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball is not considered to have gained an advantage, unless it was a deliberate defensive block/save by an opponent.

Rules for goalkeepers at penalties

Following on from last season, goalkeepers have certain rules to follow at penatly kicks. These rules have been relaxed a little to allow more freedom of movement. However, the rules have been made clearer on what occurs should the goalkeeper commit an offence:

  • A goal is awarded if the ball enters the goal.
  • If the ball misses the goal or rebounds from the goalposts or crossbar, the kick is only retaked if the goalkeeper's offence clearly impacted the kick taker.
  • If the kick is saved by the goalkeeper, the kick is retaken.


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