Football Australia receives approval for concussion substitutes

 The FFA Cup Round of 32 begins on Tuesday, 14 September, and the tournament will have a new feature in 2021 with the introduction of a trial for permanent concussion substitutions.

As seen in the Premier League, MLS, J.League, Ligue 1 and many more top-level competitions around the world, Football Australia has successfully applied to The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) to introduce the trial of additional permanent concussion substitutions in the FFA Cup Final Rounds, and for the 2021/22 Australian Professional Leagues – A-League and W-League season.

Following extensive consultation related to finding ways to improve in-game management of possible neurological head injuries in football matches, The IFAB has approved two different trials with additional permanent “concussion substitutes”, and Football Australia will participate in the trial using “Protocol A” allowing each team one “concussion substitute” in addition to the number of normal substitutes allowed.

The first match to be played in Australia under the trial protocols will be Tuesday night’s FFA Cup Round of 32 match, between Peninsula Power and Brisbane Roar at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe.

How to watch the FFA Cup in 2021

Protocol A is as follows:


  • Each team is permitted to use a maximum of one “concussion substitute” in a match.
  • A “concussion substitution” may be made regardless of the number of substitutes already used.
  • In competitions in which the number of named substitutes is the same as the maximum number of “normal” substitutes that can be used, the “concussion substitute” can be a player who has previously been substituted and who may be used at any time, regardless of the number of substitutes already used.


  • The substitution procedure operates in accordance with Law 3 – The Players (except as outlined otherwise below).
  • A “concussion substitution” may be made:
    - immediately after a concussion occurs or is suspected;
    - after an on-field assessment, and/or after an off-field assessment; or
    - at any other time when a concussion occurs or is suspected (including when a player has previously been assessed and has returned to the field of play).
  • If a team decides to make a “concussion substitution”, the referee/fourth official is informed, ideally by using a substitution card/form of a different colour.
  • The injured player is not permitted to take any further part in the match (including kicks from the penalty mark) and should, where possible, be accompanied to the changing room and/or a medical facility.

Substitution opportunities

  • Making a “concussion substitution” is separate from any limit on the number of “normal” substitution opportunities.
  • However, if a team makes a “normal” substitution at the same time as a “concussion substitution”, this will count as one of its “normal” substitution opportunities.
  • Once a team has used all its “normal” substitution opportunities, it cannot use a “concussion substitution” opportunity to make a “normal” substitution.

More information on the trial of concussion substitutes can be found on The IFAB website at