Football ready to allow five substitutions in 'temporary' response to virus suspension

LAUSANNE: Football Lawmakers are slated this week to announce a temporary change to sports law that allows teams to make up to five substitutions in games when the sport resumes after the coronavirus-induced suspension.

The global governing body made the proposal to help teams cope with likely accessory congestion on a busy schedule. FIFA and it is expected to be validated by International Football Association Board ( IFAB ) this Friday.

The IFAB said last week that it was working with FIFA on a temporary dispensation of Law 3 (The Players) allowing competitions to give teams the option to use a maximum of five substitutes on up to three occasions during the match, plus at half- time.

Limiting the number of times teams can make changes would remove the incentive to do so solely for the purpose of wasting time.

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A sixth change may also be allowed in games that go into overtime.

Currently, teams can make three substitutions during games, although since 2018 teams have been allowed to make a fourth substitution in overtime.

Leagues will not be required to implement the change, a source said, but they will be free to do so as soon as they restart after almost all soccer worldwide closed in mid-March due to the pandemic.

The German Bundesliga will become the first leading European league to restart at the end of this month.

The IFAB 's objective is to protect players' health when matches do resume, with a fixture schedule that could be even more packed than usual potentially leading to an increased risk of injuries.

Although the measure is intended to be temporary, it could be maintained throughout the 2020-21 season and until the next European Championship, which was postponed a year until June and July 2021 due to the pandemic.

FIFA have said that implementing the measure will be at the discretion of the organizer of each competition.

If the measure is still in force, UEFA it could adopt it for the euro, a source said.

It remains to be seen whether the move could be left in place permanently, but doing so can play into the hands of the wealthiest clubs with the largest squads and the greatest depth force.