In football, you can have three substitutes. Once a player is substituted, that’s it for them. They cannot come back on.

But why?

In American sports, substitutes can come back on again. It happens all the time in basketball, American Football and ice hockey. You can go off and come back on several times.


In basketball it is very rare that players will play very minute of the 48 minutes they play. Even the very best players are brought off once or twice so that they can rest and come back refreshed.

They play basketball several times a week and often play on consecutive nights.

In football, they are always talking about teams playing too much and players getting tired. They rotate their players to keep them fresh.

Well, why not rotate their players during a game. If, for example the top players were playing 75 to 80 minutes most games they would be a lot fresher when it came to midweek games the following week.


In America they don’t need to rest players to keep them fresh. They keep them fresh by taking them off for a few minutes every so often during the game.

The player coming on for them would not be nearly as good but they could run about like hell for the 5 minutes or so that the good player is off. They have all that adrenaline building up while they were sitting on the bench.

Makes Commercial Sense

Teams could play more matches (and earn more money) if they were allowed to rotate their players during games. It would also keep the bench players happy as they would know that they would be likely to get on for a spell in most games.

There are lots of good reasons to allow substituted players to come back on again. I can’t think of any good reason not to do it.

So, why don’t they allow it then?