FIFA to consider letting World Cup teams use a fourth substitution in extra time


(Andre Penner/AP)

Soccer players have it tough. There are no timeouts and very rarely are there water breaks, which means for players who partake in the entire match, they run — often at full speed — anywhere from seven to 10 miles on average, according to Gizmodo. Now, imagine adding another 30 minutes to that. No wonder when matches go into overtime, players who’ve played the previous 90 minutes can seem lethargic or more prone to making silly mistakes. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra substitution at the ready?

That is the question FIFA is considering as it begins to mull over rules for the 2018 World Cup.

“At this World Cup everything is going so quick, so fast, the tempo has been so high. As a technician we would like to have in extra time the possibility to have another substitution,” Gerard Houllier, a member of the FIFA technical study group, said at a press briefing Wednesday, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN). “I think that’s an idea that we will put” to FIFA’s rules-making panel, Houllier continued.

If this year’s World Cup serves as an example, substitutions have added a lot of end-game excitement. Substitutes have so far scored 29 goals out of the 154 that have been scored during this year’s World Cup, with many of those coming late in the second half or in extra time. Currently, FIFA allows teams to use only three substitutions per game, which they can make in regulation time or extra time.

“Substitutes play such an important part because they come with a freshness and attitude. Nearly a quarter of (all) the goals have been scored in the final 15 minutes of the game,” Houllier said. “It’s a good idea. Only in extra time. Maybe if someone is injured, why not?”

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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