Teams competing at this year’s World Cup will have a new substitution system to follow in Qatar after FIFA brought in new rules on changes during a game. Previous World Cups had seen teams permitted to use up to three substitutions in a game.
But following the Covid-19 pandemic, football has undergone a transformation in regards to substitutions. European domestic leagues began introducing new rules which allowed teams to make up to five substitutions.
The likes of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola were big advocates for the Premier League to increase the number of substitutions. But they faced some fightback from opposing managers, who felt that it only helped strengthen sides with more quality options off the bench.
Ultimately, they all agreed to introduce the five-sub rule, which was also in place for last year’s European Championships. And the World Cup has now followed suit by allowing nations to make up to five substitutions, but there are certain windows for them to be made.
While managers are able to use all five substitutions, there will only be three in-game opportunities to make changes. That doesn’t include changes made at half-time, meaning managers would need to bring on two players during one ‘break’ if they were to use all five.
But nations competing in the knockout rounds could potentially gain a sixth substitution. If a match goes to extra time, managers are allowed to make a sixth change to their team.
Gareth Southgate took full advantage of the new World Cup rule during England’s opening game against Iran. With England holding a commanding 4-1 lead, Southgate brought on Eric Dier, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden all at the same time.
A few minutes later and Callum Wilson was subbed on for Harry Kane, who picked up a light knock in the match. Substitution rules at a World Cup have changed drastically over the years and they weren’t even a thing when England last won the World Cup.
During the 1966 tournament, teams couldn’t field any more players than the starting line-up. The following World Cup in Mexico saw substitutions introduced for the first time with an extra change permitted for a goalkeeper as well as one for an outfield player.
Those rules would stay in place until the 1994 World Cup when FIFA changed the rules to allow three subs.