Extra subs for head injuries could be trialed in soccer

ZURICH (AP) — Soccer competitions could start trials next year to test the use of extra substitutes to replace players with suspected head injuries.

A group of concussion experts on Wednesday recommended that “any competition that is interested in taking part” should be allowed to begin trials in January, said soccer’s rule-making panel, known as IFAB.

“The group agreed that applying an ‘if in doubt, take them out’ philosophy would be the best solution to safeguard the health of football players,” the International Football Association Board said in a statement.

The discussion focused on an “additional permanent substitution” rather than a temporary replacement for several minutes while an injured player is assessed.

The laws of soccer allow teams to use three substitutes in a 90-minute game. Most competitions worldwide have accepted IFAB’s invitation to approve five substitutes and help protect players during congested schedules caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

IFAB said its two formal advisory panels — for soccer and technical matters — will consider the concussion proposal at meetings on Nov. 23.

Decisions can be taken at a December meeting of the full IFAB group, which includes officials from FIFA and the four British soccer federations.

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