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Wednesday, December 16, 2020
IFAB Approves Additional Concussion Substitutes Trials

Following consultation with key stakeholders and recommendations from the Concussion Expert Group (CEG) and The IFAB’s Football and Technical Advisory Panels (FAP-TAP), today’s Annual Business Meeting (ABM) approved extensive trials with additional permanent substitutions for actual or suspected concussion as of January 2021.

At a meeting held by videoconference and chaired by IFAB Director and Football Association of Wales Chief Executive Jonathan Ford, The IFAB confirmed that it has agreed on the implementation of protocols that will be the basis for the trials. The members agreed that, in the event of an actual or suspected concussion, the player in question should be permanently removed from the match to protect their welfare, but the player’s team should not suffer a numerical disadvantage.

This approach:

- prevents a player sustaining another concussion during the match as multiple head-injury incidents can have very serious consequences;

- sends a strong message that, if in doubt, the player is withdrawn but there is no numerical or tactical disadvantage by prioritising the player’s welfare;

- reduces the pressure on medical personnel to make a quick assessment; and

- is simple to operate and can be applied at all levels of the game, including most of football that is played without doctors or medically qualified staff available on site.

Today’s announcement comes after less than a year of detailed consultation with relevant stakeholders, medical concussion experts, team doctors, player representatives, coaches, competition organizers, refereeing and Laws of the Game experts.

Confederations, national football associations (FAs) and competition organizers (via their national FA) interested in participating in these trials must apply to The IFAB and FIFA. Competition organizers must ensure that the official protocols are used in their entirety and that the required feedback is submitted.

Five-substitute option

The Board approved extensions of the temporary amendment to Law 3, which allows the option of up to five substitutes in top-level competitions, for domestic competitions ending by December 31st, 2021 and for international competitions ending by July 31st, 2022. The members agreed that the ongoing impact of the pandemic on football should remain under constant review so that appropriate action can be taken. The next review will be at the AGM 2021.
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