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MLS Unveils New Initiatives: Enhancements Set to Elevate Player Safety and Fan Experience

April 16, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Charlotte FC News Release

In a press release today, Major League Soccer revealed several new regulations set to enhance the game experience for both players and fans, set to debut this Saturday, April 20.

One of the key introductions is the Off-Field Treatment Rule, designed to afford medical professionals adequate time to assess and treat player injuries away from the pitch's intensity. If a player appears injured and remains on the ground for over 15 seconds, the referee will halt the game to allow medical personnel to evaluate the situation.

The player will then be escorted off the field for a minimum two-minute assessment and treatment period, ensuring their well-being without excessively delaying the match. This rule, initially introduced in the middle of the 2022 season in MLS NEXT Pro and continued throughout 2023, has proven beneficial for both player safety and game flow.

The Timed Substitution Rule is another innovation aimed at optimizing match time. Under this rule, substituted players must exit the field within 10 seconds to avoid disrupting the flow of play. Failure to comply results in a 60-second holding period before the incoming player can enter, with the team temporarily playing down a player. Introduced during the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season, statistics show that over 99% of substitutions were completed within the stipulated timeframe.

Additionally, VAR decisions will now be communicated directly to fans both in the stadium and watching broadcasts at home. This move aims to increase transparency and understanding of crucial game-changing decisions.

While these sporting enhancements were initially slated for the 2024 MLS preseason, negotiations between the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) and the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PRSA) delayed their implementation.

However, with agreements in place, these rules are now set to take effect alongside other initiatives such as the Return to Play Equity protocol and the stoppage time clock, which have been in place since the beginning of the 2024 MLS regular season.

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