World Cup to allow five substitutions and larger squads

DOHA, Qatar. The use of extra substitutions in matches, a change from a long-standing football tradition brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, was officially introduced into the sport’s rules on Monday, just five months before this year’s World Cup kicks off in Qatar.

Under revision to a deliberately short code of football rules, Laws of the gameapproved by its governing body, the Board of the International Football Association, coaches at this year’s tournament – and at any other competition – will be allowed to use up to five substitutions per game instead of three.

The expansion has already been introduced on a temporary basis, introduced in 2020 and created as an attempt to protect players’ physical and mental health. But it was widely adopted in national leagues around the world and in top competitions like the Champions League and was praised by coaches who applauded the tactical flexibility it offered. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, for example, called the replacement “brilliant“For both big teams and small ones.

Making it permanent could set the stage for another change: FIFA can now expand squads for the tournament to 26 players instead of the previous limit of 23.

Both decisions, taken on Monday, mean that the third cycle of the World Cup in a row will start with major rule changes: goal-line technology debuted at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and a replay system known as video-assisted review. was approved for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

The use of five substitutions was approved by the IFAB as an interim measure in 2020. At the time, leagues were rushing back to compressed game schedules — sometimes in the heat of the summer and without the usual pre-season — as they tried to catch up. games and fulfill multi-million dollar television contracts.

But the temporary measure has been maintained in many of the world’s top leagues and, like their fellow clubs, the national team coaches, while welcoming the flexibility and opportunities that additional substitutions and larger squads will offer in the biggest event of the football calendar, are expected to agree. that change becomes permanent.

Club managers might approve of this too, especially if it eases the pressure on their best players, even if only in a modest way: to adjust to Qatar’s scorching summer heat, this year’s World Cup has been moved to the winter months, meaning it will take place in the middle of most club clubs. seasons and create additional difficulties for elite players who are already tired almost non-stop football schedule since the hiatus from the pandemic in 2020.

The added substitutes are now common in Europe and in leagues such as Major League Soccer in the US. The Premier League, which initially used five substitutions before returning to three over the last two seasons, will bring back five starting next season.

Extended lineups aren’t new either. Europe’s governing body has allowed teams to make up a 26-player squad for last summer’s European Championships, while South American officials have approved teams of 28 to compete in last summer’s Copa América in Brazil. In these cases, coaches were still only allowed to include 23 players on their active squads for each game. But the decision to allow playlists to include 15 substitutes instead of 12 will give coaches wiggle room at a time when the coronavirus could still wipe out a team in a matter of days.