European clubs to ask for 5 substitutes in UEFA competitions

GENEVA (AP) — Europe’s top soccer clubs said Tuesday they want UEFA to let teams use five substitutes in Champions League and Europa League games this season.

The option to increase the three-substitute quota and protect players during schedule congestion caused by the coronavirus pandemic was originally given to competition organizers by FIFA’s rule-making panel.

UEFA approved five subs for the completion of 2019-20 club competitions, but this season’s qualifying rounds have reverted to three subs.

The European Club Association wants UEFA’s executive committee to take up the issue when it meets Sept. 24 in Budapest, Hungary.

ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli, who sits on the UEFA executive committee, said the board would be asked to extend the rule and create a “consistent, harmonized style of play” across the continent.

Germany’s Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1 already voted to allow five subs, though the English Premier League will have just three despite most of the 20 clubs wanting five. Critics say the option of more subs favors wealthier clubs with deeper rosters.

European club soccer faces a congested schedule with just eight months for most domestic leagues to complete their mid-September to mid-May program.

All available midweek dates are booked from October through mid-December just for UEFA-organized games for club and national teams.

“We hope (UEFA) will listen to us as they normally do when it’s sporting related matters and also when it’s about the health of players,” Agnelli said.

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