Five substitutes per game? FIFA suggests special rule change

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FIFA has suggested a special rule change of five substitutions to help teams returning to action after suspensions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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World soccer’s governing body has said that it wants teams to be able to make five substitutions per game.

Its reason for increasing the number of subs from five to three is due to players facing more fatigue as they will likely be asked to play a game every few days when the 2019-20 season resumes behind closed doors.

“When competitions resume, such competitions are likely to face a congested match calendar with a higher-than-normal frequency of matches played in consecutive weeks. Safety of the players is one of FIFA’s main priorities. One concern in this regard is that the higher-than-normal frequency of matches may increase the risk of potential injuries due to a resulting player overload.

“In light of this, and in light of the unique challenge faced globally in delivering competitions according to the originally foreseen calendar, FIFA proposes that a larger number of substitutions be temporarily allowed, at the discretion of the relevant competition organiser. In competitions where less than five substitutions are currently allowed, each team would now be given the possibility to use up to five substitutions during the match, with the possibility of an additional substitution remaining during extra time, where relevant.”

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) are expected to look on FIFA’s proposed rule changes favorably and vote them in for the rest of the 2019-20 season and the entire 2020-21 campaign.

How will this work?

Teams will be given certain windows during games to make subs, outside of injuries, so the flow of the match will not be impacted with extra subs being made just to waste time.

This is a really good idea to help teams cope with some players not being physically fit enough to resume the season. The vast majority will be fit enough but others may not have been able to work out that much during the suspension and they could struggle to get back to the pace of regular games.

This rule change would also allow some of the teams lower down the table feel more comfortable with playing up to three games per week as they were concerned that they couldn’t compete with the squad depth of teams at the top of the league.