IFAB agrees to trial concussion substitutes

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has agreed to introduce trials for concussion substitutes with FIFA set to implement them at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

At their annual general meeting in Belfast, the IFAB decided that more research is required before introducing concussion subs into the laws of the game but the trials could take place as soon as this summer at the Olympics.

Irish Football Association chief executive Patrick Nelson, who chaired the meeting, said: “We agreed it would be a sensible move to draw up some protocols for trials for potential additional substitutes in cases of concussion.

“FIFA have expressed strong interest in being part of trials at the Olympics. More research data is needed before we could consider any permanent changes to the laws.”

It appears likely that permanent substitutions would be the preferred option rather than a temporary substitution while a longer 10-minute assessment is carried out. The current assessment period for concussion is three minutes.

Nelson said IFAB would not “close off” the 10-minute/temporary substitute option, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino said player health would remain the priority.

“If there is any doubt you have to keep the player out, and for the coach to have another possibility, he knows there is an additional substitution,” he said.

Infantino insisted player safety remained the focus
Infantino insisted player safety remained the focus (Nick Potts/PA)

“Often we were criticised for being slow (on concussion). Now, we move, we try, and then we’ll see.”

The IFAB has also hinted a possible review of the offside law after much controversy over tight offside calls going against the attacking side with the use of video assistant referees.

“The AGM agreed to consultation with all the relevant stakeholders, including The IFAB Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) and the Football Advisory Panel (FAP), to review the offside Law to foster the spirit of attacking play,” an IFAB statement added.

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