The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the legislative arm of world football governing body, FIFA, has permitted that leagues can continue with 5 substitutions per team in a match during the 2020-2021 season due to the congested schedules they are likely to have.
FIFA approved five-substitutions per team in a match before football returned in some major leagues in the world. The body decided to adopt this temporal rule in order to enable clubs to manage their player’s fitness level appropriately amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides that, teams are now forced to play more matches at short intervals as leagues are trying to gain some lost time after the over three months coronavirus induced break from football.
Instead of teams to have the opportunity of substituting just at most three players during a match, they can do that 5 times, thereby helping the teams to cope with their condensed schedules.
“Some competitions which resumed in 2020 may have a shorter-than-usual recovery and preparation period before the start of their next season”, IFAB said in a statement while announcing the extension of the 5-substitutions per-team in a match rule.
“For many competitions, the 2020-2021 season will involve matches being played in a condensed period due to a delayed start and the inability to end later than usual because of major international tournaments.”
However, it is not mandatory that all leagues should adopt the rule next season. Every league has been given the autonomy to decide whether to continue with the rule next season or return to the regular three-substitutes per match rule.
The Argument for and against the 5-Substitutions rule introduced by FIFA
Since the introduction of 5-substitutions rule, some critics have been of the opinion that the rule favours mostly the bigger clubs that have the financial power to have good players on their first eleven and on the bench. Hence, when the good players on the pitch are tired, the manager can easily replace them with as many as 5 good footballers from the bench.
In the other hand, supporters of the rule are of the opinion that the rule has given the clubs the opportunity to utilize more of their players who would not have had the chance under the 3-substitutions regime. It has also enabled managers to take advantage of the rule to try younger players and change formations in order to suit the rhythm of the game.
All the same, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages especially at this time where clubs have less than three days to train and rest before another match.
Usually, when the season ends, clubs will go on break for three months. The players will be allowed to rest for some weeks in those three months and spend the rest of the months for pre-season tours and friendlies.
But the coronavirus pandemic would not permit that to happen for now. For instance, most leagues will end their season this weekend and then start another one around September, meaning that they would not have up to a month to rest.
The case is even worse for clubs that are still in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League for this season. Clubs like Atletico Madrid, Manchester City and a host of other teams that are still in the European competitions might not have up to three weeks to rest before they will start another domestic season.