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Five-substitute option extended into 2021 in response to COVID-19 pandemic!

Following the decision taken on May 8, 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.

There are no changes to the details of the temporary amendment to the Laws of the Game, which will allow for a maximum of five substitutes to be used per team. However, to avoid disruption to the game, each team will only have three opportunities to make substitutions, although substitutions made at half-time are not counted as one of the three opportunities.

The decision on whether to apply this temporary amendment remains at the discretion of each competition organiser.

The changing impact of the pandemic on football will be kept under constant review to ensure appropriate action is taken in the future in relation to this temporary amendment.

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