FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The German league will allow teams to use five substitutions again this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 36 clubs in the top two German soccer leagues voted Thursday to continue the rule for next season. The decision comes after the Premier League moved back to three substitutions after using five to finish the 2019-20 campaign amid the pandemic.
FIFA and rule-making panel IFAB allowed leagues to use up to five substitutions in May as a way to reduce fatigue for players during a busy run of rescheduled games. That measure was extended in July to allow five substitutions in club competitions through July 2021 and international competitions until August 2021.
The French league has started its season with five substitutions, while the Spanish league 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 stadiums.
Leipzig is hoping to have 8,500 fans at its first Bundesliga home game on 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 about holding events during the pandemic, but 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, and that clubs hadn’t voiced concerns.
Bringing back fans could be “a very important and positive sign, a sign that thousands of people really want to comply with and can comply with hygiene rules,” Seifert said.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports