Number of Players

A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than eleven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. A match may not start if either team consists of fewer than seven players.

Number of substitutions

Official competitions

Up to a maximum of three substitutes may be used in any match played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA, the confederations or the member associations.

The rules of the competition must state how many substitutes may be nominated, from three up to a maximum of seven.

Other matches

In national "A" team matches, up to a maximum of six substitutes may be used.

In all other matches, a greater number of substitutes may be used provided that:

  • the teams concerned reach agreement on a maximum number
  • the referee is informed before the match

If the referee is not informed, or if no agreement is reached before the match, no more than six substitutes are allowed.

Substitution procedure

In all matches, the names of the substitutes must be given to the referee prior to the start of the match. Any substitute whose name is not given to the referee at this time may not take part in the match.

To replace a player with a substitute, the following conditions must be observed:

  • the referee must be informed before any proposed substitution is made
  • the substitute only enters the field of play after the player being replaced has left and after receiving a signal from the referee
  • the substitute only enters the field of play at the halfway line and during a stoppage in the match
  • the substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field of play
  • from that moment, the substitute becomes a player and the player he has replaced becomes a substituted player
  • the substituted player takes no further part in the match
  • all substitutes are subject to the authority and jurisdiction of the referee, whether called upon to play or not

Changing the goalkeeper

Any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that:
the referee is informed before the change is made

  • the change is made during a stoppage in the match
  • the referee is informed before the match

Infringements and sanctions

If a substitute or substituted player enters the field of play without the referee's permission:

  • the referee stops play (although not immediately if the substitute or substituted player does not interfere with play)
  • the referee cautions him for unsporting behaviour and orders him to leave the field of play
  • if the referee has stopped play, it is restarted with an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the position of the ball at the time of the stoppage (see Law 13 - Position of free kick)

If a named substitute enters the field of play instead of a named player at the start of the match and the referee is not informed of this change:
• the referee allows the named substitute to continue the match
• no disciplinary sanction is taken against the named substitute
• the number of substitutions allowed by the offending team is not reduced
• the referee reports the incident to the appropriate authorities

If a player changes places with the goalkeeper without the referee's permission before the change is made:

  • the referee allows play to continue
  • the referee cautions the players concerned when the ball is next out of play

In the event of any other infringements of this Law:

  • the players concerned are cautioned
  • the match is restarted with an indirect free kick, to be taken by a player of the opposing team from the position of the ball at the time of the stoppage (see Law 13 - Position of free kick)

Players and substitutes sent off

A player who has been sent off before the kick-off may be replaced only by one of the named substitutes.

A named substitute who has been sent off, either before the kick-off or after play has started, may not be replaced.