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Five substitutes option to be made permanent



Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo watches from the bench after being substituted in a Champions League match.PHOTO: REUTERS

Football competitions can decide to make the originally temporary five-substitutes rule permanent, the sport’s rule-making body IFAB recommended on Wednesday (Oct 27).

“FAP-TAP (football and technical advisory panels) today recommended that competitions should be able to decide on increasing the number of substitutes according to the needs of their football environment,” read an IFAB statement.

The decision to permanently amend football’s laws came at a virtual Fifa-chaired IFAB meeting following requests from different confederations, associations and leagues.

The option of using five replacements was introduced in May 2020 to alleviate the strain on players as the coronavirus pandemic upended sporting calendars and congested fixture lists, raising fears for player welfare.

Only three substitutes were previously allowed, but coaches argued the more onerous physical demands on players competing in condensed competition formats or time periods justified the change.

Earlier this year, IFAB’s board of directors extended the temporary amendment to football’s laws allowing domestic and international competitions to use five substitutes to Dec 31, 2022.


Teams can make five substitutes in Uefa competitions like the Champions League, but England’s Premier League rejected the innovation being reintroduced last season.

Critics had said making the change permanent would disproportionately benefit wealthier clubs with larger squads.-AFP

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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