The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has allowed the 26-man squad for the Euro 2020 football matches, instead of the standard 23, to ease the load on players after a shortened pre-season due to COVID-19 pandemic. The recommendation from the UEFA’s national teams committee will also give head coaches flexibility in case of pandemic-related emergency.
The congested season following the shutdown of the sport during the outbreak of the pandemic last year and the workload on players, which has been a concern for coaches, has been the major consideration in making this changes. The increase in squad size also aims to give managers options in case a player contracted the virus in the middle of the tournament.
The decision remains subject to approval but is not expected to meet any opposition, a person with knowledge of the decision told a news agency. Earlier, UEFA had already decided to let teams use five substitutes in regulation time instead of three. This five-sub rule is being used by most competitions during the pandemic season to protect players from injury.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez last month said that increasing squad sizes for the tournament would be a “good thing to do”. He added: “I think it’s something that’s needed. It would match the changes that have been made in the current situation in world football, with the five substitutions, the uncertainty of the pandemic attack and the extra level of injuries, it would be a good thing.”
Earlier, Italy coach Roberto Mancini had warned over the threat of the virus that would leave managers cramming for players. “What if someone tests positive for corona at the European Championship?” Mancini told Italian broadcaster. “It would be tricky to select another player because they will all be on holidays. It would be a good idea to expand squads to 25, 26 players.”
England manager Gareth Southgate is expected to announce his squad during the week commencing 24 May, while the Scotland manager Steve Clarke will name a provisional squad in mid-May, before making his final selection at the end of the month. The 24-team tournament is scheduled to start on 11 June and end on 11 July. Final squads must be submitted to UEFA by June 1.
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