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FIFA Proposes New Substitutions Rule, Leagues Look To Germany To Lead Back Into Playing

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores from the penalty spot during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield on August 24, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – While we sit at home waiting for this horrible virus to either get behind us or a vaccine to be developed, we see a few things being reported about sports and a potential return to action.

It’s unlikely that sports will be normal in the foreseeable future, it is times like these you remember how important sports are.

For the time being, these articles will be updates of different actions being taken by the soccer sport around the world, until it’s safe enough for us to kick back on the sofa, mid-morning, to watch the English Premier League on KSL 5 TV again.

Once the social distancing requirements are lifted, leagues will need to play more games in a shorter span of time. This means players will be needed for games close to three times a week compared to the standard one to two times per week.

With this in mind, FIFA proposed that teams be allowed to increase the number of player substitutions from three to five. The idea is to stop the increased injury risk in what could be a condensed window to play out the remaining 9-10 matches with the inevitable congestion that will come for the leagues planning to complete their seasons.

I’m all for it personally. I hope the rule is kept long after the world is back in to normal. Currently, the proposal suggests five substitutions will be allowed for teams finishing this season and also next season.

I would like to see this rule become standard moving forward because it will cut down on injury and risky decisions, leading to more sustainable competition and protection of our players. This will improve the sport, including watching our favorite teams as they fight for titles, cups, and various European qualification places, and those trying to stave off relegation.

With most teams being out of commission for over a month the team momentum will likely be impacted. It is vital that we protect the players as much as we can. Yes, they are entertainers, but the reason we tune in every week is because of the high athletic standards they have set over time. The level of play before the shut down took months to develop and it is logical to assume that shutting down competition would impact the standard of play.

The proposal is subject to the game’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), and then left up to each individual league whether to implement it or not.

The New FIFA Rule Proposal

Part of the proposal also includes measures to avoid teams wasting time, outside of injuries there would be a set window for teams to use these additional substitutes.

One concern I have, and as we’ve seen in preseason matches, multiple substitutions can ruin the flow of the game. With these measures and the importance of the fixtures remaining, there is absolutely everything to play for.

Even with the EPL title race almost a forgone conclusion, many teams still have a huge incentive to play not only their best soccer but post-social shutdown, they must also have a mindful approach for their players who could be needed to play games every two to three days.

Entire squads will be utilized at some point to effectively manage players’ physical and mental welfare.

The EPL bottom three teams are not settled and relegation will depend on the final matches. As well, the top four teams from the Championship have invested big money in the hopes of moving into the EPL where their current spending would be more sustainable.

Both the athletic and business side of these leagues face a sense of panic. These teams all want the chance to either avoid relegation to the Championship or win promotion to the EPL.

The plan to have this proposed substitution rule through the 2020/21 season and if implemented, could help us see a difference in how games are managed and how coaches approach games. As stated above, I would like to see this rule made permanent, but even with just the current suggested time frame, my hope is that we’ll see fresh attacking talent during matches which should add to some late and unexpected drama to what is already the most exciting league in the world.

The Rest Of The Soccer World

In other news, France and the Netherlands have chosen to end their seasons early.

There are more questions than answers concerning what happens next throughout the rest of Europe and the world. England, Spain, Italy and Germany are adamant that their respective leagues will resume.

Germany was leading the way as their teams had been on the training pitch for a couple of weeks already and the plans they had in place were favorable with the government. However, Cologne announced last week that three of their players tested positive for COVID-19. Now there are 10 cases among the two top divisions in Germany. German teams were waiting for the German government to give the green light again. As of today, Chancellor Angela Merkel approved their plans to restart the Bundesliga, next Friday, May 15.

Wolverhampton Wanderers announced that on May 11 their players will start training at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground for individual sessions and fitness training. Strict social distancing guidelines will be followed.

A handful of the Wolves players have been out of the country, along with manager Nuno Espirito Santo. They are all expected back in time for next Monday as the players step up and try to get some kind of normalcy and show faith that the EPL will finish playing the current campaign.

Talks are ongoing in the EPL of a possible return date, but in all honesty, it feels like everyone is keeping an eye on Germany as their testing and infrastructure seem robust and ahead of the curve compared to the majority of the world.

Until next time…keep washing those hands.

You can follow Spenno on Twitter here and catch him hosting The Lions Den with Tom Hackett, powered by KSL Sports. 

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