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How many substitutions can teams make at the Qatar 2022 World Cup?

Substitutes will have a bigger role to play at the 2022 World Cup final than at any previous tournaments due to recent rule changes

Roddy Cons
Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Semi Final - Argentina v Croatia - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - December 13, 2022 Argentina's Lisandro Martinez comes on as a substitute to replace Leandro Paredes REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Spain boss Luis Enrique caused (relative) controversy at Euro 2020 – played, as you’ll no doubt remember, in 2021 – by picking a 24-man roster for the tournament when he could’ve chosen 26. “We don’t want to take any more because we want everyone to have a chance of playing, and we know that only around 18 or 19 will actually play,” was his justification.

Despite being able to select 26 players for the first time in a major international tournament, a change made as a result of the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, national team managers were only allowed to name 23 players on the match sheet for each fixture, which also influenced Luis Enrique’s decision. One unlucky player would have to be left in the stands.

For the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, however, the former Barcelona boss has, by contrast, announced a 26-man roster. Why the change of heart?

How many substitutes can each team have on the bench at the 2022 World Cup?

“The difference is that we can have all 26 players on the match sheet this time and we don’t have to leave anyone out. At Euro 2020, it was only 23 and all the managers complained about it,” Luis Enrique explained in his post-roster reveal press conference.

In Qatar, we will therefore see each team have an extended bench of up to 15 players (provided all are fully fit and free from suspension), all of whom are able to be called upon by their national team coach. A maximum of 11 team officials – one of whom must be a team doctor – can also sit pitch-side.

How many substitutions can teams make at the 2022 World Cup?

For the first time in a World Cup tournament, nations will be able to make a total of five substitutions (previously three), another rule change caused by the pandemic which has already been adopted in a large number of club competitions. Those five substitutions can be made in a maximum of three windows across the 90 minutes.

How many substitutions can make in extra-time?

If a match in the knockout stages goes to extra-time, each team is allowed to make one additional change, meaning that a maximum of six substitutions can be made in 120 minutes. More than half of the starting line-up could therefore be replaced.

Has a substitute ever decided a World Cup final?

Show the world you are better than Messi and can decide the World Cup.” These were the words uttered by Germany coach Joachim Löw to Mario Götze as the then-Bayern Munich man waited on the touchline to come on in the 2014 final at the Maracaná.

Götze, who will again be involved in Qatar, did exactly as his coach asked, scoring an extra-time winner against Argentina to become one of the World Cup’s most famous substitutes and the first sub to score in a final since countryman Rudi Völler in 1986.

The new rules mean substitutes will have bigger roles to play in the World Cup than ever before, so don’t count against Götze’s feat being repeated.