Why FIFA is approving 5 substitutions per match

The forthcoming changes to football have been well discussed, from the transfer market right through to changes in the structure of training sessions, yet even more differences to the game are coming, with FIFA set to agree to a move which will permit five substitutions per match.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed football, perhaps forever, and the measures taken to ensure the health of every professional and staff member involved in the return to action will be stringent.


FIFA are currently preparing a document with medical recommendations that will be made official in the coming days, although it won’t be seen as protocol, rather a list of advisory measures.

From the Zurich headquarters of the sport’s governing body, there has been confirmation made to MARCA that teams will be able to make up to five substitutions per match once football returns.

However, to avoid constant periods of changes like what we see in international friendly matches, these substitutions will only be allowed to be carried out at three specific points in a match.

The English Football Association requested this change and it has been well received by FIFA in an attempt to lower the risk of injury to players, who will be playing a large number of matches in a very short time frame.

Another suggestion made to FIFA was matches being shortened to just 45 minutes, however FIFA consider this to be totally unacceptable as it would distort the game too much, as well as the spirit of competition.

In association football, a substitute is a player who is brought on to the pitch during a match in exchange for an existing player. Substitutions are generally made to replace a player who has become tired or injured, or who is performing poorly, or for tactical reasons (such as bringing a striker on in place of a defender).