One of the game’s long-standing rules may soon change. At least temporarily.
FIFA has proposed a new rule that would allow teams up to five substitutions each as a way to deal with the inevitable fixture congestion that will occur when leagues across the world resume from their coronavirus layoffs. The subs will be permitted in a maximum of three in-play slots and at halftime to avoid unnecessary stoppages, if approved.
“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,” a Fifa spokesperson said. “Safety of the players is one of FIFA’s main priorities. One concern in this regard is that the frequency of matches may increase the risk of potential injuries due to a player overload.
“In light of this and the unique challenge faced globally in delivering competitions according to the originally foreseen calendar, Fifa proposes a larger number of substitutions be temporarily allowed at the discretion of the relevant competition organizer.
“In competitions where less than five substitutions are currently allowed, each team would now be given the possibility to use up to five substitutions, with the possibility of an additional substitution remaining during extra time where relevant.”
Leagues and tournaments that are to be completed or started in 2020 and 2021 would be subject to the rule change. It would also apply to national team fixtures running through Dec. 31, 2021.