Report: Temporary concussion substitutions coming for Euro 2020

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According to a report by Sky Sports, football’s lawmakers – the International Football Association Board (IFAB) – is set to vote in February on the institution of temporary concussion substitutions, and it seems to have widespread support.

The rule is proceeding through the regular process of vetting possible changes to the laws of the game, currently under review for presentation and voting in February. Should the vote pass, it would be implemented on June 1, 2020 with all other rule changes that pass, per the usual timeline, meaning the first major competition to make use of the new law would be Euro 2020.

The proposed rule would allow a team to send in a substitute while an on-field player is removed for concussion evaluation. The substitution would not count as one of the team’s three (or four, in extra-time) official substitutions, and the substitute could be replaced by the original player should he be deemed fit to play.

It is intended to afford a team’s medical staff more time to evaluate a player thought to be possibly concussed with as little effect on the game. It is thought at present that teams are hesitant to fully evaluate a player that suffers a head injury in fear that the team is down a man for the duration of the evaluation.

Detractors of the rule believe that coaches will take advantage of the flexibility late in games after having used all three legal substitutions by having a player fake a head injury to see him replaced.

Collegiate soccer in the United States – which has far more relaxed substitution rules than professional – currently allows teams to freely substitute for all injured players without counting against that injured player’s eligibility to return to the match, or the substitute’s eligibility to return later. Professional rugby, a fully contact sport, also currently allows for temporary head injury substitutions.

The Sky Sports report seems to infer that the rule has support, citing both UEFA’s publicly declared support as well as reported support within players’ union FiFPRO.