The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is set to announce a temporary extension of the rule allowing teams to make up to five substitutes in one game-a decision that is likely to prove controversial for the entire 2020/21 season.

For several leagues across Europe trying to complete the 2019/20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, the IFAB introduced the five substitutes rule as they sought to provide clubs with a greater chance to protect their players during a very hectic schedule from injury and exhaustion.

It was initially merely a short-term measure, but the Athletic now reports that the IFAB is scheduled to announce the extension of the regulation to cover the 2020/21 season in the ‘coming days.’ The report further alludes to the fact that it was the duty of each league to determine if they wanted to introduce such a change even after the proposal was introduced.

While the Premier League voted for the extra replacements, it was all voted against by teams like Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Sheffield United, and West Ham. The IFAB ‘believes’ that with the 2019/20 season ending so far into the summer and with the 2020/21 campaign scheduled to start soon after, the same ‘player safety’ issues will continue.

Nonetheless, it is expected to be a controversial move, because it was proposed that the rule change would favor the bigger clubs with stronger squads. Only Brighton, Liverpool, and Manchester United have so far taken the option to use all five substitutes in a game. Meanwhile, Burnley has made a total of six changes since the play was resumed.

With a significant number of contentious decisions already being taken week after week, the IFAB is ‘waiting’ elsewhere to address the latest issues surrounding offside law in the coming months. The Athletic claims the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) does not give the offender the benefit of the doubt now granted offside legislation.

A new change will see officials judging players’ offsides on their heads, uniforms, or torsos. This would ensure the integrity of the rule, while also giving up the current approach of judging based on whether the toe of a player is offside.

As regards the time it took to make decisions about VAR, IFBA does not find time limits when it looks to make the right decisions.


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