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FIFA announce five substitute rule to stay until 2021

Five substitute rule

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Man Utd players come and go as the manager makes five substitutions at once during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Sheffield United at Old Trafford on June 24, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Offside via Getty Images

FIFA have announced that the new five substitute rule will remain in place until the end of the 2020-21 season.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

The rule allows each team to make five substitutes per game, up from three, and was put in place due to the extra physical demands put on players due to the suspension of leagues due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then the quick reductions and jammed-packed schedules.

It is down to each individual league or competition as to whether or not they will use the new five substitute rule.

FIFA confirmed that the five substitutes will still only be allowed to be made across three windows during the game so it doesn’t disrupt the flow of play.

Here is the statement from FIFA on the five substitute rule, where they explain their reasons behind keeping the rule change in place until July 31, 2021 for the club game and for international competitions schedule to finish in July/August 2021.

FIFA statement on five sub rule

Following the decision taken on 8 May 2020 to give competitions scheduled to be completed in 2020 the option of allowing teams to use up to five substitutes, The IFAB Board of Directors had agreed to review whether to extend this option further. On the basis of this in-depth review, which included stakeholder feedback and an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on competition calendars, the IFAB Board of Directors has extended the option to competitions scheduled to be completed by 31 July 2021 and to international competitions scheduled in July/August 2021.

The main reason for the temporary amendment to Law 3 – The Players was the impact on player welfare of competitions being played in a condensed period and in different weather conditions. The recent review has shown that the reasons for the temporary amendment remain valid and the impact on player welfare is likely to continue into 2021 due to various factors, including:

  • Some competitions which resumed in 2020 may have a shorter-than-usual recovery/preparation period before the start of their next season.
  • For many competitions, the 2020/21 season will involve matches being played in a condensed period due to a delayed start and the inability to end later than usual because of major international tournaments.


The overall reaction to this decision will be positive but there are some managers, especially those lower down in the Premier League, who believe this short-term rule change benefits bigger clubs with bigger budgets who have a host of world-class talents on the bench.

You can’t please everyone but it is clear that FIFA are trying their best to safeguard players from burnout as the major leagues in Europe will be asked to have a few weeks break, then roll straight into the 2020-21 season.

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