The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has announced that the use of up to five substitutes by teams during games has been extended by one year.

IFAB confirmed on Wednesday that their Board of Directors agreed to make an extension in the new amendment regarding the number of substitutes which was introduced in May this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


“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 to take place in July/August 2021.” Reads a statement from IFAB.

IFAB explains that the main reason behind 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.”

With players subjected to playing a game in 4 days, the review of increasing the number of substitutes from three to five has shown that the reasons for the temporary amendment remain valid and the impact on player welfare is likely to continue into 2021.

Some of the reasons IFAB has presented for the extension of the amendment on Law 3 include;

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.


Whereas the amendment allows use of up to five substitutes, to avoid numerous disruptions to the game, each team is allowed to make changes only on three occasions, although substitutions made at half-time are not counted as one of the three opportunities.

IFAB maintains that the decision on whether to apply this temporary amendment or not remains at the discretion of each competition organiser.

Joel Muyita

Joel Muyita is a senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports.

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