5 substitutes interim rule in soccer extended by 1 year

ZURICH (AP) — An interim rule allowing soccer teams to use five substitutes per match during the schedule congestion caused by the coronavirus pandemic was extended Wednesday through next season.

Soccer’s law-making panel, known as IFAB, said the option of using two extra replacements would continue in the 2020-21 season and for national team competitions into next August, when the Tokyo Olympic tournaments end.

The decision fulfils some goals in a proposal by FIFA in April which wanted to extend the rule through 2021 for all national team games and calendar-year domestic leagues.

FIFA said its plan would help prevent some injuries caused by “potential player overload” as competitions catch up with a backlog of games.

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IFAB cited “the impact on player welfare of competitions being played in a condensed period and in different weather conditions.”

Competition organizers have the option of letting their teams use five substitutes instead of three in 90 minutes, and a sixth in knockout games that go to extra time.

Teams are still limited to three stoppages of play in 90 minutes to make the changes.

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