Last updated on September 25th, 2021
You may have seen Tim Krul’s heroics against Costa Rica in the 2014 World Cup. Krul came off the bench to replace the current keeper, Jasper Cillessen, in the final minutes of extra time.
During the penalty shootout, Krul managed to save 2 penalties from Costa Rica. This helped the Netherlands to progress to the semi-finals of the World Cup.
You may wonder if it’s possible to switch goalkeepers before a penalty kick or shootout. Here is a deep dive into the rules of football regarding this scenario.
Can you switch goalies before a penalty kick?
You are able to change goalkeepers before a penalty shootout, provided that it occurs before the final whistle and you still have substitutes remaining.
You can only change goalkeepers during a penalty shootout if the goalkeeper is injured during the shootout. If your team has unused substitutes, you are able to swap goalkeepers. If not, an outfield player will have to take the role of the goalkeeper.
However if your goalkeeper has been sent off during the match, your team is able to bring on the goalkeeper on the bench.
Can a goalkeeper be substituted out during a match?
You can make a normal substitution to replace your first choice goalkeeper with the goalkeeper on the bench. This is just like any other substitution that you can make for other outfield players.
However, making such a change is rare. Most teams do it when the first choice keeper is injured.
Louis van Gaal was one of the rare managers who made this substitution for tactical reasons!
There are also some conditions to be fulfilled first before you can change your goalkeeper:
- A player can only be substituted during a stoppage of play and with the permission of the referee
- You must still have substitutes remaining
- The substitution must occur before the final whistle
#1 A player can only be substituted during a stoppage of play and with the permission of the referee
This is the standard rule across all football games, according to Rule 3 of the Laws of the Game.
The Laws of the Game do not have any special rules when making substitutions for a goalkeeper. So long as the substitution fulfils the criteria, it will be considered as a valid substitution.
#2 You must have substitutes remaining
To perform this substitution, you must have substitutes remaining that you can use. In the Laws of the Game, it states that there can be up to a maximum of 5 substitutes can be done in official competitions.
In most domestic leagues, there is a limit of 3 substitutions for matches. During the COVID-19 pandemic, FIFA gave leagues an option to have 5 substitutions instead of the usual 3.
For cup competitions like the World Cup and Champions League, a 4th substitute has been allowed during extra time of knockout matches.
In other matches like international friendlies, there can be a maximum of 12 substitutions.
#3 The substitution must occur before the final whistle
For a substitution to be valid, it has to occur before the final whistle has been blown.
Under normal circumstances, you cannot make any substitutions during a penalty shootout for tactical reasons.
A goalkeeper can be switched if he is injured after a penalty kick
From the laws of the game, a goalkeeper is able to be substituted if he is unable to continue the shootout. This usually occurs when the goalkeeper becomes injured during the penalty shootout.
If the team still has unused substitutes, you are able to make a substitution.
Interestingly, the Laws of the Game only allow you to make a substitution for a goalkeeper who cannot continue playing. For all other outfield players who get injured, you are unable to make a substitution.
However if your team has used up all of your substitutes, then you are unable to make a substitution. Instead you’ll need to switch an outfield player to take the place of the goalkeeper.
Switching an outfield player with the goalkeeper during the penalty shootout
This mainly occurs for 2 scenarios:
- The goalkeeper is unable to continue (most likely due to him being injured) and there are no more substitutes
- The goalkeeper gets sent off
When this happens, an outfield player will need to take the place of the goalkeeper. This also means that the number of players on the team has been reduced.
The Laws of the Game also states that if one team has a higher number of players than the other, it will have to reduce its numbers to match that of the other team. As such, both teams will only have 10 players eligible to take the penalty kicks.
The referee must be informed of which player will be excluded from the penalty shootout.
You cannot switch back to your original goalkeeper after swapping
Once you swap goalkeepers, you cannot bring back on your original goalkeeper. Like any other substitute in football, the goalkeeper cannot come back onto the pitch once they have been subbed off.
As such, managers will have to think through this decision before making it. It is a balance between choosing their first choice goalkeeper over having the substitute who is less fatigued.
Since managers may prefer the first-choice goalkeeper, it could be a reason why they are able to retire at a later age.
When can a goalkeeper be changed?
A goalkeeper can be changed at any time during the match, so long as the substitution is done before the final whistle. A goalkeeper can only be substituted during a penalty shootout if he gets injured during the shootout.
Managers may want to make changes to their goalkeeper before penalty shootouts. One of the main reasons why they may do this could be due to tactical reasons.
For this to work, the substitution has to occur before the final whistle of extra time has been blown.
Otherwise, the only other way to make changes to the goalkeeper is when the goalkeeper becomes injured or gets sent off.
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