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IFAB temporarily allows five substitutions per game

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In what could be a massive move to help ease coaches and players back to regular football, the IFAB approved FIFA’s proposal to introduce increase the number of substitutions.

FC Augsburg v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
Mueller being substituted in for Coutinho.
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, FIFA requested to temporarily allow all football clubs to be given the ability to make five substitutions instead of three per game. As reported by various media outlets, including Kicker, the IFAB (International Football Association Board) approved this proposal today.

The reasoning behind this decision is understood to be the tight schedule, the burden on the players and the difficult situation faced by the football federations involved and the countries as a whole in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis.

It has also been reported that the IFAB and FIFA will discuss whether an extension of this rule adjustment will be necessary, at a later date - for instance, whether the terms of the amendment would carry on to the 2020-21 season.

The rules in play are as follows:

  • Each team will have the opportunity to make a maximum of five substitutions per game.
  • The teams may however, only interrupt the game thrice to make said substitutions. This means that 2 or more players may have to be substituted at once if a team wishes to make use of 4 or all 5 substitutions.
  • A sixth change will be possible, but only in the case of individual cup competitions, such as the DFL Pokal. If the competition decides to permit an additional substitution during overtime, this will be allowed.

The decision on the application of the rule is at the discretion of the association responsible for a competition. If adopted in the Bundesliga when the season resumes, this would make for some exciting football from a tactical perspective, and masterminds like Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann will undoubtedly be rubbing their hands in glee at the possibility of being able to introduce larger changes to formations.