Five substitutes rule extended for 2020/21 season

A soccer ball is disinfected
A soccer ball is disinfected
ADAM DAVY / POOL / AFP

Football teams could be allowed to continue using up to five substitutes during the 2020/21 season after the sport's lawmakers extended a temporary solution to a congested schedule in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) said the measures were taken due to the short turnaround between the end of the 2019/20 season and start of the new campaign and the fact matches will be played in a condensed period due to a delayed start to the season.

Each individual league and international competition will have the option to decide whether to apply the new rule or stick by the pre-pandemic regulations of a maximum of three substitutes per side for a 90-minute match.

To avoid disruption to the game, each team will only have three opportunities to make substitutions, although changes made at half-time are not counted as one of those stoppages.

Despite the concerns over player welfare that has led to the rule changes, the use of five substitutes per side has been controversial.

The biggest clubs with deeper squads benefit most, leading to concerns of further widening the gap between the richest clubs and the rest.

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