DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The use of additional substitutes in matches, a change in soccer’s longstanding tradition triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, was formally added to the sport’s rules on Monday, just five months before the start of the Cup. of the World this year in Qatar.
According to the revision of the brief regulations of football, the Laws of the game, approved by its governing body, the Board of the International Football Association, coaches in this year’s tournament, and in any other competition, will be able to use up to five substitutes per game instead of three.
The expansion had already been temporarily implemented, introduced in 2020, and framed as an effort to protect the physical and mental health of players. But it had been widely adopted in domestic leagues around the world and by major competitions such as the Champions League, and praised by managers who welcomed the tactical flexibility it offered. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, for example, called the change “brilliant” for both big and small teams.
Making it permanent sets the stage for another change: FIFA can now expand rosters for the tournament, to 26 players instead of the previous limit of 23.
Both decisions on Monday mean that, for the third consecutive cycle, the World Cup will kick off with a major rule change: goal-line technology made its debut at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and the replay system known as video review assistant was approved in time for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
The IFAB approved the use of five substitutes as a temporary measure in 2020. At the time, leagues were rushing back to compressed match schedules, sometimes in the height of summer and without their usual pre-seasons, as they struggled to recover. games and fulfill multi-million dollar television contracts.
But the temporary measure has remained in place in many of the world’s top leagues and, like their club colleagues, national team coaches, who welcome the flexibility and options that additional substitutes and biggest rosters at the biggest event on the soccer calendar. agree with the change being made permanent.
Club managers may also favor it, especially if it eases the strain on their best players, even in a modest way: to accommodate Qatar’s scorching summer heat, this year’s World Cup has been moved to the winter months, which means it will reach the middle. of most club seasons, and posed an additional hardship for elite players who were already tired of football’s nearly non-stop schedule since the game’s pandemic hiatus in 2020.
Added substitutes are now common from Europe to leagues such as Major League Soccer in the United States. The Premier League, which used five substitutes initially and then reverted to three substitutes in the last two seasons, will make the switch back to five from next season.
Expanded lists are also not new. Europe’s governing body allowed teams to name 26-man rosters for last summer’s European Championship, and South American officials approved 28-man squads for last summer’s Copa America in Brazil. In those cases, managers were still allowed to name only 23 players on their active rosters for each game. But the decision to allow game-day rosters to include 15 substitutes instead of 12 will give coaches some wiggle room at a time when the coronavirus could still decimate a team in a matter of days.