IFAB decides to extend five-sub rule until December 2022 due to COVID-19 impact

Due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, IFAB has decided to extend the rule allowing five changes during matches until the end of 2022.

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IFAB decides to extend five-sub rule until December 2022 due to COVID-19 impact
IFAB decides to extend five-sub rule until December 2022 due to COVID-19 impact

Competition organisers will have the option of allowing teams to continue using up to five substitutes until the end of 2022, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) confirmed on Friday.

The temporary rule was first introduced in May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to allow teams to use five substitutes, instead of the standard three, to support player welfare amid a congested fixture schedule. It will be down to competition organisers as to whether they allow teams to implement the rule.

IFAB said the temporary amendment will remain in place until Dec. 31, 2022, “for all top-level competitions”

Top European leagues and UEFA's major competitions adopted the five substitutions rule
Top European leagues and UEFA’s major competitions adopted the five substitutions rule

Teams at the World Cup in Qatar next year will be able to use five substitutes per match after football’s rule-making body on Friday extended the right until the end of 2022. IFAB said the rule, first introduced last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, will remain in place until December 31, 2022, “for all top-level competitions”.

The temporary rule was introduced in May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help support player welfare considering the congested fixture schedule. Top European leagues and UEFA’s major competitions adopted the rule after the 2019-20 season was extended into July and August, respectively, due to the pandemic, and continued to do so for the 2020-21 season.

An IFAB statement read: “During an ordinary meeting of the IFAB Board of Directors held via videoconference today, the members agreed to extend the temporary amendment to Law 3 – The Players, which affords competition organisers the option of allowing teams to use up to five substitutes per match, for all top level competitions scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2022.

“The decision follows a global analysis of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on football, as well as representations from several key stakeholders from across the football community.

“Introduced in May 2020, the temporary amendment is aimed at supporting player welfare, in particular where schedules have been disrupted, often leading to competitions being played in a condensed period.

“The IFAB will continue to review the impact of the pandemic on football and consult with its stakeholders on this important welfare matter.”

However, it will be down to competition organisers as to whether they allow teams to implement the rule.

The Premier League was the only top league in Europe to revert to a maximum of three substitutes in a condensed 2020-21 season, even as managers such as Juergen Klopp and Pep Guardiola voiced concerns about player fatigue. In October, sources revealed an increase of 42 per cent in muscle injuries from the same stage of the previous campaign.

Rules however changed in a positive direction in the EFL Championship in November 2020, when following consultation with the 72 teams in the EFL, the board agreed to increase the number of substitutions from three to five.

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