How many substitutions do teams get in soccer?

  • Substitutions in soccer allow fresh players to come onto the pitch
  • The COVID-19 pandemic changed substitution rules forever
  • Managers only have a few chances to substitute players each match
Check out how many substitutions teams get in soccer.
Check out how many substitutions teams get in soccer. / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

Every soccer game, teams get limited opportunities to bring on substitutes who can change the course of a match in just one magical moment.

A substitute in soccer is a player eligible to come into a game from the bench in place of a teammate already on the pitch. Although the substitutes did not make the starting lineup, they have the power to impact a game's final score. When a team needs a spark, fresh legs, or simply to waste time, they turn to substitutes.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, teams were only allowed three substitutions in 90 minutes. However, the extreme circumstances in 2020 encouraged new rules to manage players' health that still exist today.

Here's a breakdown of how substitutions work in soccer across all major leagues and tournaments.

Mario Goetze, Miroslav Klose
Mario Götze getting subbed on in the 2014 World Cup final. / Reinaldo Coddou H./GettyImages

How many substitutions do teams get in soccer?

Teams get five substitutions in a soccer match, but they only have three total opportunities to bring on the new players in 90 minutes. Therefore, managers often sub on multiple players at once to maximize the allotted number of substitutes.

If a game goes into extra time, then teams can make one extra substitution. Unfortunately, if a team has already used all their substitutions, and a player must come off the pitch due to injury, the club will have to finish the match with 10 men.

Also, a player who gets subbed off the pitch is not allowed to later be brought back on. A substitute, though, can be ushered back to the bench if necessary.

Although a manager can utilize their five substitutes whenever they please, they typically bring most subs on in the second half, around the 60th or 70th minute. If a team needs a drastic change, new players will enter the game at the start of the second half.

Ultimately, if a manager opts to use all their eligible substitutions, then five of their 11 original players will end the game on the bench.