This is the second part of a thorough overview of the development of substitutions in football. Read the part 1 here.
Let’s go: Substitutions independent of an injury
In 1965 there was another innovation in football substitutions, which was not immediately rejected in the Laws of the Game: In 1965, two substitutions were allowed in England, even in competitive matches, irrespective of an injury. In the 1966/67 season, the Scottish FA also adopted this rule. Again, a year later, all national member associations of FIFA were free to adopt this regulation.
Whether these were experiments in England and Scotland, I can only guess. However, I have no proof for this and I do not know whether the possible experiment was only carried out in England and Scotland.
After 1967 nothing changed for some years, although there were experiments and proposals for changes.
What the US-American football association USSF wanted to test in 1974 seems familiar to us: Five substitutions instead of – back then – two. It did not receive permission from The IFAB, but nevertheless the USSF carried out the test and was reprimanded for doing so.
This association also tested – excessively long – games with three substitutions from 1978 to 1981. Again, The IFAB reprimanded the USSF because after three years there was still no report of the experiment. Apparently, the USSF found the two possible substitutions too few and increased the number behind the cover of experiments.
According to Stanley Rous, he himself made sure that the number of the player to be substituted (and now also the player to be substituted) was displayed in our matches.
According to his autobiography „Football Worlds“, he saw this procedure at a youth tournament in Malaysia. There, the Secretary of the Asian Football Confederation, Koe Ewe
Teik, had introduced the system of holding up a piece of paper with the number of the player to be substituted. Unfortunately, Rous does not give any year numbers.
It was discussed at the 1986 Annual General Meeting that a maximum limit on substitutions should be removed in general. However, this discussion did not receive the necessary majority, nor did the 1988 proposal to allow the substitution of two field players and a goalkeeper.
The provision later known to us as the 2+1 rule was proposed again in 1993 and, after lengthy discussions, was postponed until the following year. Then, in 1994, this amendment was accepted. And was replaced the following year by three substitutions independent of position.
The fourth substitution in the extra time
The idea was first submitted by the Scottish FA at an Annual General Meeting in 2009 but did not receive the necessary majority this year. It then took six years before it was proposed again. This time by FIFA, CONMEBOL and the national associations of USA and Sri Lanka. Although FIFA also submitted the proposal, the then FIFA President, Joseph Blatter, was very distanced from the proposal. He feared that such permission could open the Pandora’s Box. So, the proposal was first submitted to the newly established Advisory Panel of The IFAB, which has been independent for a year.
A year later, Blatter was no longer FIFA President, but Gianni Infantino, who, unlike his predecessor, was a great friend of the fourth substitution in extra time. The proposal was initially allowed as a two-year, worldwide experiment. The matches that went into extra time were analysed and a survey conducted. After one year, the first reports were very positive, so that the minimum requirements and a Gold Standard for professional use were developed. The Gold Standard then became part of the Football Quality Programme.
Since 2018 there is officially the fourth substitution in extra time.
This was the last change concerning the number of substitutions until spring/summer 2020. Since then and until the end of July 2021, national associations are free to allow up to five substitutions at competitive matches. However, these must be made within three breaks (excluding the half-time break).
This rule was initially temporary and will be made permanent in the Laws of the Game for the 2022/23 season.
A special case: Substitutions in international friendly matches
For test matches, the number of substitutions since 1972 may be higher than for competitive matches. Initially, up to “ve substitutions were allowed. This number was
increased to six for friendly matches in 2004. In 2005 it was added that more are possible in other matches, provided the teams agree on this before the start of the
match. The referee must of course be informed in advance.
In other news
The Number of substitutes
Nevertheless, there are other areas of substitution where something has changed since the 1970s: The number of named substitutes has changed very little. In 1971 it was decided that the two substitutes had to be chosen from five previously named players. Today the competition rules specify how many substitutes may be named, with a minimum of three and a maximum of twelve.
The proposal to increase the number of the named substitutes from five to eleven was rejected in 1987 and 1990 and withdrawn in 1991. It was voiced by several national federations both before the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and the 1990 World Cup in Italy and said that a large number of more players could be allowed to play in a World Cup match.
In 1992, the proposal came back to FIFA, but with up to nine named substitute players. FIFA granted UEFA the right to test this variant, and to do so at the European Championship next summer.
In 2002 during the World Cup in South Korea and Japan there was the possibility of naming up to twelve substitutes as a trial.
After having been successfully tested in England and Scotland, return substitution in recreational and amateur football are possible since 2015.
The place of substitution
In 1972 it was decided that substitutions must always be made on the centre line. Before that, there were no more detailed rules on the place. And in 1973, it was added that the substitute may only enter the field after the substituted player has left it. Of course, all this only with the approval of the referee.
This remained unchanged for almost half a century, until the 2019/20 season. Now, the substituted player had to leave the field at the next point, in order to minimise the increasing time wasting caused by the substitution process. However, the substitute must still enter the field at the halfway line and only after the substituted player has left the field.