CHICAGO (April 5, 2021) – The National Women’s Soccer League announced today a new concussion rule to be implemented beginning in the 2021 season as part of a joint effort between U.S. Soccer and all U.S. professional leagues to increase player safety. The rule allows teams to make two concussion substitutes to replace players with head injuries, regardless of the number of substitutions already used in a game.
The new protocol was established to ensure that a player suspected of suffering a concussion may be withdrawn from a match without the player’s team suffering a disadvantage in numbers on the field.
The rule was first introduced this past February by U.S. Soccer during the 2021 SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, Florida.
“The new concussion protocol is another steppingstone in our continued efforts to create robust player safety guidelines for all teams and athletes,” said Director of Sports Medicine Hughie O’Malley. “The welfare of our players is a priority at the NWSL, and we’re pleased to collaborate with the other professional leagues and U.S. Soccer on this pilot program to continue protecting our athletes.”
A taskforce comprised of operations and medical leaders from the NWSL, Major League Soccer, the United Soccer League, the National Independent Soccer Association and U.S. Soccer have agreed to implement the protocol pending approval from FIFA and the International Football Association Board.
IFAB approved trials for concussion substitutions to begin in 2021. All major leagues, as well as U.S. Soccer applied for permission to participate in the trials.