The German Bundesliga will keep five substitutions for the 2020-21 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 36 clubs in the top two German men’s soccer leagues voted at a German Football League meeting Thursday to continue the rule for next season. That comes after the English Premier League moved back to three substitutions after using five to finish the 2019-20 campaign during the pandemic.
FIFA allowed leagues to use up to five substitutions in May as a way to reduce fatigue for players in a busy run of rescheduled games. That measure was extended in July to allow competitions to use the rule until the end of 2021.
The French league has started its 2020-21 season with five substitutions, and Spain’s La Liga has yet to decide on the rule for its new season.
The Bundesliga is keeping an extensive coronavirus testing program for the new season while its clubs draw up plans for spectators to eventually return to the stadiums.
Leipzig is hoping to have 8,500 fans at its first Bundesliga home game Sept. 20 even as other clubs are set to play with very few spectators or none at all.
German states and local officials have considerable leeway over holding events during the pandemic, but federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said Wednesday he would prefer “a uniform approach for the Bundesliga, which is by definition Germany-wide.”
League CEO Christian Seifert said Thursday that he considered concerns about unfair competition to be exaggerated, even if some teams begin their seasons with fans and others don’t.