This short football language post explains the meaning of the word, ‘substitution‘, which is the noun form of the verb ‘to substitute’. If you have questions or comments, email us at:

  • You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

Football Language: Substitution

A football match sees 11 play against 11 over 90 minutes but sometimes because players are injured or playing poorly they may be taken off the pitch; they may be replaced or substituted. So, to substitute one thing for another means to exchange something for something else. In football a substitute is a player that is not in the starting xi but instead is on the bench waiting to be called on by the coach or manager. Substitutions were introduced into the English game in the 1965-66 season when one player was allowed to replace another, while the first time that a substitute was allowed in the World Cup was in 1970. Nowadays, teams are allowed to make three substitutions per game although a fourth player can be introduced in extra time in some competitions.

Example: Kepa Arrizabalaga refuses substitution (Independent 25th February 2019).

Example: The manager made a last-minute substitution to try and change the result.

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Learn English Through FootballWelcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Football fans can practise with lots of free language resources, including football-language podcasts and our huge football-language glossary.

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