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Reports suggest that the FA Cup, a fixture in English football for 153 years, may undergo an unprecedented rule change, marking a significant departure from its historical norms. Unlike the recent introduction of VAR, which represented a notable shift, the FA Cup has seen relatively few revolutionary alterations over time.

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While the FA has experimented with the removal and subsequent reinstatement of replays in the third and fourth rounds, discussions now revolve around a potentially groundbreaking rule change. According to The Times, the FA is seriously considering implementing sin-bins, where players could be temporarily sent off for 10 minutes for cynical fouls or dissent toward match officials. The International FA Board (Ifab) is expected to discuss and potentially authorize these trials in its upcoming annual meeting, with the final decision resting with the FA regarding their introduction in the FA Cup.

Ifab had previously approved a trial allowing team captains to approach referees in specific major game situations, and sin bins were proposed for trials, particularly for dissent and specific tactical offenses. While sin bins have been in use at grassroots football levels since the 2019/20 season, their introduction to professional football would mark a significant and revolutionary move. Similar measures have been successful in sports like rugby and ice hockey, effectively reducing dissent.

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Notably, sin-bins were familiar to football fans in the Masters Football tournaments, although their professional application would likely differ. Former rugby union referee Nigel Owens emphasized the potential impact of sin-bins in professional football, drawing parallels to their success in curbing dissent in rugby. Owens suggested that setting standards at the highest level could positively influence behavior throughout the sport, addressing issues of abuse and dissent that persist even at grassroots levels.

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