The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has introduced a new rule that states that players who deliberately cough at other players or match officials can be red-carded.
The football’s rule-makers and the Football Association revealed that due to the coming of the Coronavirus pandemic, such an offence falls within “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”.
It added: “As with all offences, the referee has to make a judgement about the true nature of the offence.”
“If it were clearly accidental, then the referee would not take action nor if the ‘cough’ took place with a large distance between the players,” added Ifab.
“However, where it is close enough to be clearly offensive, then the referee can take action.”
The FA also issued guidance for grassroots football which will come into force immediately.
In a document, it wrote,
“If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour’.” It added referees must not look to punish “routine” coughing and “action can only be supported where it is evident it was a clear act against someone else”.