The International Football Association Board has finally ratified the decision to make the option for five substitutes permanent. The decision comes two years after the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, which initiated the move so that teams and coaches were allowed to use five substitutions instead of the usual three as leagues around the world confronted scheduling congestion challenges. Many leagues decided to keep this regulation last season and IFAB has now decided to make the option to do that permanent for top-level competitions starting from July 2022. The current restrictions which confine those substitutes to three substitution slots plus halftime was confirmed as well.
The 136th Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in Doha, Qatar and was chaired FIFA’s boss, Gianni Infantino, and attended by representatives from FIFA, The FA, the Irish FA, the Scottish FA, the FA of Wales and The IFAB administration. The group also discussed ongoing trials of concussion substitutes, possible alternatives to offside, and the latest technological developments to support match officials. In addition, the members decided to increase the maximum number of named substitutes listed on the team sheet from 12 to 15 at the discretion of the competition organizer, which suggests the World Cup could be expanding their roster to 26 players per team when it kicks off in November.
As stated in the official statement, members received an “update on the early results of the global trial with additional permanent concussion substitutes. Although over 140 competitions are involved in the trials, the AGM supported the ABM decision to extend the trial until August 2023 to gather sufficient data to form a scientifically valid decision. Temporary concussion substitutes were reconsidered, but the members agreed that the trials should continue to focus on permanently removing any player with actual or possible concussion to ensure this player does not continue taking part in the match in question. It was agreed that further education is needed to ensure the trial protocols are applied correctly”.
The AGM was updated by FIFA on innovations that could allow more competitions to use video assistant referee (VAR) technology (VAR “Light”), which has been trialed in over 100 matches, and on successful tests with systems to help video match officials determine offside situations more quickly and accurately (so-called “semi-automated offside technology”). A video support solution is also being considered for potential trial, the official statement confirmed.