While the world is earnestly waiting for the return of football to the pitch after COVID-19, the world football governing body, FIFA is proposing an increase in the number of substitutions per game from three to five during the regulation time of 90 minutes as FIFA cited the safety of players as the main reason behind the new rule.
The implication of this new rule is that most teams, (especially those ones on the continent) may choose to rotate there line up excessively and this will affect how they file out from the tunnel on match days as more matches will be played in a short period of time in order to meet up with the high backlogs of matches caused the outbreak of the deadly virus.
The shape of the first eleven will surely be distorted as many teams will take full advantage of the new substitution rule if it is eventually approved.
It will give many fringe players more playing time to show what they can do. The key players will also have more time to rest and conserve energy, but it will add more pressure on their shoulders to do the damage when they eventually come on board.
Perhaps, this is one of the many things that will change the way football will be played after the pandemic.
The new rule change is to assist teams and players to cope with the high number of matches that will be played a short period of time as such it will help to manage fatigue and protect players from getting injured for may have high volume matches to meet with lost times to the outbreak of the virus.
“Safety of the players is one of FIFA’s main priorities then. One concern in this regard is that the higher-than-normal frequency of matches may increase the risk of potential injuries due to match overload”. Said a FIFA Spokesman on Monday afternoon in Zurich.
This new proposal has been forwarded to IFAB, International Football Association Board, the body responsible for the approval of new changes to the laws of the game.
If granted, teams will be able to make a maximum of three substitutes before half time and have the option of bringing the remaining two substitute if the coach deems it fit to make changes. This is to forestall any unnecessary delays and time-wasting.
According to the FIFA spokesman, the law is only temporary for now as it will only be applied to competitions which are either to be completed in 2020 or 2021 and it would also apply all through 2020/2021 season. The law will also apply to international matches up to December 31, 2021.
The application of the rule will be left at the discretion of the different leagues to implement or not but it will be applied to the remaining matches of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and some matches of 2022 World cup qualifiers will be affected too.
The Bundesliga is due to return on May 9, and some of the other leagues are also planning to return and the Serie A also muted the idea of a return and more leagues is looking at the possibilities of returning to the pitch in the month of May.