How Many Substitutions Are Allowed In Football? 2024

How Many Substitutions Are Allowed In Football?: Football, often hailed as a beautiful game, captivates millions with its dynamic and strategic essence.

One pivotal aspect that adds complexity and versatility to the sport is the concept of substitutions. Teams strategically utilize substitutions to impact game flow, adapt to various scenarios, and ensure optimal player performance.

In “How Many Substitutions Are Allowed In Football?” this article, we’ll try to understand the rules governing football substitutions, examining their influence on the game.

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How Many Substitutions Are Allowed In Football?

In football, teams are granted a specific number of substitutions during a match, allowing them to replace players and adjust tactics.

The substitution limit has evolved, with a significant shift in 1995 when FIFA increased it from two to three per team.

This alteration aimed to enhance the tactical dimension of the game and provide teams with greater flexibility in managing their squads.

Current Substitution Rules:

As of my knowledge cutoff in January 2022, the standard substitution rule allows each team to make three substitutions per match.

However, exceptions exist, such as in extra time during knockout stages in tournaments like the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League, where an additional substitution is permitted, bringing the total to four.

It’s crucial to note that substitutions must occur during designated stoppages in play, commonly referred to as “dead ball” situations, including throw-ins, goal kicks, and free kicks. This approach aims to prevent disruptions to the game’s flow and maintain fairness.

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Strategic Timing:

The timing of substitutions is a critical element in a manager’s tactical decisions. Coaches often wait for opportune moments to make changes, considering factors such as the scoreline, player fatigue, and the overall game dynamics.

Substituting an attacking player when trailing or introducing a defensive reinforcement to protect a lead are common strategic manoeuvres.

Furthermore, substitutions can exploit the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing team. Bringing on a player who excels against a particular opponent can shift the balance of power, while a tactical substitution can neutralize an opponent’s key player or exploit vulnerabilities in their defensive setup.

Injuries and Substitutions:

In case of injuries, teams are allowed an additional substitution outside the regular substitution windows. The injured player must promptly leave the field, and the replacement can enter the game immediately.

This rule prevents teams from facing unfair disadvantages due to unforeseen injuries. However, the interpretation of injury-related substitutions can sometimes be contentious.

Managers may strategically claim a player is injured to make a substitution that aligns with their tactical agenda. Referees and officials have the authority to assess the legitimacy of an injury and take appropriate action if foul play is suspected.

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VAR and Substitutions:

The advent of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology has added complexity to the substitution process. VAR reviews can impact the timing and validity of substitutions, especially if an incident leading to a substitution is under review. This technological advancement aims to ensure fair play and uphold the integrity of the game.

Global Variations:

While the standard substitution rule is widely adopted, variations exist in different football leagues and competitions.

Some leagues allow an additional substitution in extra time, while others strictly adhere to the three-substitution limit regardless of the game’s duration.

Awareness of these variations is crucial for players, coaches, and fans to comprehend the dynamics of specific competitions.

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Football substitutions go beyond player changes; they represent strategic tricks that can shape a match’s outcome.

With the flexibility of making 3 substitutions per game, managers navigate a delicate balance of holding player fitness, capitalizing on opponent weaknesses, and responding to the vibrant nature of the game.

As football continues to evolve, so too will the rules surrounding substitutions. Whether including new technologies like VAR or adapting to the distinct demands of various tournaments.

Understanding the nuances of substitutions adds a layer of appreciation for the tactical chess match unfolding on the football field.


1. Why are 5 subs allowed now?

Answer: The decision to allow five substitutions in football matches was primarily influenced by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a congested fixture schedule and concerns about player fatigue and injuries, FIFA temporarily increased the substitution limit to five to provide teams with more flexibility and better manage player workloads.

2. How many substitutions are allowed in a football game?

Answer: As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, teams are generally allowed three substitutions during a standard football match. However, variations may exist depending on the league or competition rules.

3. How many substitutes are allowed in the FIFA World Cup?

Answer: The number of substitutes allowed in the FIFA World Cup is typically in line with the standard football rules, allowing three substitutions during regular time. During extra time in knockout stages, an additional substitution may be permitted, bringing the total to four.

4. How many substitutes in football?

Answer: The number of substitutes in football in 2023 is subject to the rules of the specific league or competition. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, the standard substitution rule allowed three substitutions, but variations might exist.

5. Why did subs change from 3 to 5?

Answer: The change from three to five substitutions was a temporary measure introduced by football governing bodies, including FIFA, in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased number of substitutions aimed to address concerns about player welfare and minimize the risk of injuries during a congested schedule.

6. When did 3 substitutions start in football?

Answer: The allowance of three substitutions in football matches became a standard rule in 1995. Before that, teams were limited to two substitutions per game.

7. Can you make 5 subs in football?

Answer: The ability to make five substitutions in football matches was a temporary measure introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided teams with more flexibility during a condensed fixture schedule. However, this rule may not be applicable in all leagues or competitions.

8. When were 2 substitutes introduced in football?

Answer: The option for teams to make two substitutes in football matches was introduced in 1965. Before that, only one substitution was allowed.

9. Can a player come back on after being substituted in soccer?

Answer: In standard football rules, once a player has been substituted, they cannot re-enter the game. The substitution is considered final, and the player who has left the field cannot participate in the remainder of the match.

10. How many subs allowed in La Liga?

Answer: As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, La Liga adhered to the standard football rules, allowing three substitutions per match. However, it’s essential to check the current regulations, as rules may change.

11. When did they change to 5 subs?

Answer: The decision to allow five substitutions was made in response to the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The change was implemented in 2020 and was intended to be a temporary measure to address the challenges posed by the congested schedule and potential player fatigue.

12. How many subs are allowed per set?

Answer: The concept of “sets” does not apply to football. Substitutions are typically allowed during stoppages in play, such as throw-ins, goal kicks, and free kicks, and are not tied to sets, as in sports like tennis or volleyball.

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