Concussion Substitutes: Premier League to begin Trials in 2021-2022 season

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The English Football Association and the Premier League will commence trials for concussion substitutes in the 2021-2022 season.

The concussion substitute rule is a new rule that FIFA‘s International Football Association Board (IfAB) is currently working on. The rule stipulates that permanent substitution can be made if a player suffers a head injury during a match. This implies that the affected team can make a new substitution even if the team has exhausted the regular number of substitutions.

The bad side of the rule is that any player that suffers a head injury during a match will have to remain out of football for at least 6 days no matter the degree of the injury. While a fair side of the rule is that both the team with a player that has a Concussion and the opposing team can make an extra substitution to avoid any team from taking advantage of the rule.

Though IFAB is still working on the final aspect of the concussion substitutes rule, FIFA has urged interested football associations to adopt it in their localities from January 2021. The adoption will be on trial in any competition in the world but FIFA will not force it on any football association.

IFAB is expected to discuss the proposed rule on November 23, 2020. But a final decision will not be made on the rule until in December when the FIFA’s law-making body meets for the last time over the rule.

Fifa’s concussion expert group has said that the protection of players is its “main goal and that a clear and uniform approach is needed, which can operate effectively at all levels of the game”.

“Clear, scientific, and football-based feedback will be collected to enable If, Fifa and the expert groups to evaluate the impact of these trials and make appropriate recommendations”, FIFA added.

Earlier, FIFA planned to introduce the rule in the football segment of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before the Games were postponed until 2021 because of coronavirus. Hence, the Olympics games might be the first international tournament where the rule might be used.

Premier League to begin Trials for concussion substitutes in 2021-2022 season
File photo of Dynamo Kiev defender Domagoj Vida playing with a gruesome head injury.

Meanwhile, football authorities in England have agreed not to introduce the new rule in the 2020-2021 season since the season would have gone almost halfway before January when the rule will be ready for implementation.

Hence, the rule will be one of the things that will form part of the side attractions of the 2021-2022 season. The implementation of the rule is seen as one of the new initiatives that would help to fight mental health among footballers.

It is similar to the 5-substitutions per match which IFAB introduced before the restart of football after the three months induced coronavirus break. The Premier League adopted the rule and used it to complete the 2019-2020 season but decided to trash it ahead of the 2020-2021 season.

Currently, most football managers, especially those managing top football clubs in the league have been agitating for the reintroduction of the 5-substitutions per game but no concrete progress has been made in this regard.