DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Soccer’s lawmakers on Monday decided against a trial of temporary concussion substitutes, while ratifying the option for teams to make five substitutions per game and to have 15 players on the bench.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) said at its annual general meeting in Doha that it had reconsidered the idea of temporary substitutions to deal with head injuries but that its focus would be on existing trials of additional permanent concussion subs.
“It was agreed that further education is needed to ensure the trial protocols are applied correctly,” IFAB said.
It came after an open letter to IFAB was co-signed by former players including England’s Alan Shearer and top consultant neuropathologist Dr. Willie Stewart. It said the current concussion guidelines failed to protect player safety and urged the introduction of trials for temporary concussion substitutes.
The approval of teams having 15 players on the bench as possible substitutes — at the discretion of the respective competition organizer — paves the way for 26-man squads at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Monday the majority of coaches of teams qualified for the World Cup wanted to have the three extra players rather than the standard 23-player squad. Teams had 26 players in their squads at the European Championship last year.
The ability to make five substitutions in matches, instead of three, was initially introduced on a temporary basis to help teams deal with congested schedules caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It has now become a permanent part of the laws of the game.
IFAB said trials could be held for referees to wear body cameras in adult grassroots soccer to protect officials from physical and verbal assaults. Trials of kick-ins, to replace throw-ins, were also discussed.
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