Preprint Communication Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Change in Soccer Substitutions Rule due to COVID-19: Why only Five Substitutions?

Version 1 : Received: 31 August 2020 / Approved: 2 September 2020 / Online: 2 September 2020 (06:09:34 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

2021 Mota, Santos and Marocolo. 2021 Mota, Santos and Marocolo.

Journal reference: Frontiers in Sports and Active Living 2021, 2, 588369
DOI: 10.3389/fspor.2020.588369


Each sport has its specific rules, which determine what is allowed (or not) impacting directly on the sport demands. Studies involving physiological and time-motion measurements have shown that soccer is a highly demanding sport. The new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been a world health crisis. Soccer seasons were interrupted worldwide to avoid spreading the virus. Leagues resumed the season (no fans at the arenas) after several weeks of interruption, causing overlay of schedule. This overlay (e.g., games every Sunday and Wednesday) will cause accumulated fatigue on players, raising the risk of injuries. Considering this condensed calendar, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has changed (temporarily) up to five substitutions during elite games (instead of three as the regular rule allows). Considering the already published scientific evidence, clearly, the change in the soccer substitution rule due to COVID-19 is insufficient. Implementing unlimited substitutions may benefit soccer players' health, coaches’ jobs, more entertainment for fans and sponsors (e.g., keeping intensity during all game, including on the second half) and eventually prolonging the useful life of the players. A real game-changer!


coronavirus; sports; management; football; rules; games



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