US soccer implements new rule for concussion replacement in MLS, NWSL

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U.S. football announced Monday that it would be introducing a new concussion replacement rule to further protect players who suffer head injuries during games.

The new rule separates concussion substitutions from other substitutions and prevents a team from being penalized for removing a player for a possible head injury. A team can now make two substitutions for players who left the game due to head injuries, regardless of the total number of substitutions made. The teams typically have three substitutions, increased to five due to COVID-19.

According to the Associated Press, officials will now use pink cards to indicate a concussion sub. White cards are still used for a normal submarine and blue cards are still used for an additional submarine.

All professional leagues related to US football have agreed to implement the rule, including the Major League Soccer, the National Women’s Soccer League, the National Independent Soccer Association, and the United Soccer League.

Trials approved in December

According to the press release, the International Football Association Board approved trials of the rule in December 2020 and it was first implemented at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando in February 2021. The judicial proceedings are expected to continue through August 2022.

IFAB outlined four reasons they believe the rule will improve player safety across the board.

  • It promotes the removal of a suspected head injury player by eliminating the consequences of his removal.

  • Making it easier to remove players from the game will protect you from further injury.

  • Without consequences in the game, the medical team no longer needs to feel pressured to make a quick assessment of the player’s injury.

  • The rule is designed to be easy to implement at all levels of the game, including soccer, which is played without any doctors or medically qualified staff on site.

Enforcing the rule across U.S. football is part of the trials the IFAB approved in December. Dr. George Chiampas, U.S. football’s chief medical officer, believes the rule will improve player safety in an area the organization has focused on for the past six years.

“Adopting this new rule is an important step as we continue to lead the way in player safety,” said Chiampas in the press release. “It was important as a sport to come together with our professional leagues and take part in this pilot program, with the well-being of our players being the top priority. We have worked hard over the past few years to raise awareness of head injuries in football and this change should go a long way in protecting players suspected of having a concussion. “

U.S. football is introducing a new rule to further protect players who have suffered a concussion during a game. (Photo by Michael Wade / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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