On June 24th 2020, Ole Gunnar Solskjær the manager of Manchester United made a quintuple substitution against Sheffield United. Manchester were leading 3 - 0 in the second half, and with the game in bag, Solskjær saw no reason to save a substitution for later on.

On a normal soccer game each team can have upto 3 substitutions. But FIFA has raised the limit to 5 for the post Covid-19 lockdown games since many consecutive matches are being played with little rest to wrap up championships, and players haven't had proper training camp.

I do remember seeing the rare triple substitution, or a double by one team at the same time as a single by the other, but can't think of any instance with more players subbed all at once of the top of my head. Of course in friendly games, each team is allowed more than 3 subs, having there not been any cap till a few years ago. In theory it was possible that a manger would've subbed half or more of the team at once, but it would've defeated the purpose of the friendly match to analyze the performance of each player as well as how well they fit with their surrounding teammates.

Seeing 5 players of the same team being subbed at once makes me wonder what's the most number of players substituted at once - not necessarily all belonging to just one side - in any top tier league or international play, including friendlies?

  • 1
    (National) Friendlies tend to have unlimited subs, so there's a chance for all 22 players getting subbed at halftime.
    – dly
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 8:49
  • 1
    They used to have unlimited subs, top tier senior national friendlies only are allowed 6 per side for number of years now.
    – alamoot
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 15:32
  • Only nations friendlies. Clubs can still do it.
    – dly
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 22:32

3 Answers 3


Please exclude friendlies. There are tons of games where the whole team gets subbed at halftime.

Some examples:

  • Bayern Munich - Real Madrid (21.07.2019, 16 Subs at halftime; 11 Real + 5 Bayern)
  • Arsenal - Bayern (18.07.2019, 13 subs at halftime; 11 Bayern + 2 Arsenal)
  • Ajax - Watford (18.07.2019, 14 subs at halftime)
  • Stuttgart - Freiburg (19.07.2019, 18 subs in 61')
  • ManU - Leeds (17.07.2019, 11 subs at halftime; all ManU)
  • Mainz - Vallecano (17.07.2019, 11 subs at halftime; all Mainz)
  • Aue - Hertha Berlin (17.07.2019, 16 subs at halftime)
  • Mönchengladbach - Basaksehir (17.07.2019, 15 subs at halftime)
  • Eindhoven - Wolfsburg (17.07.2019, 11 subs at halftime)

All those games were played within a week.

The record I've found so far:

Let's get back to games that actually matter.

These are Bundesliga games:

  • Köln - Mainz (17.05.2020, 5 subs in 83')
  • Düsseldorf - Hoffenheim (06.06.2020, 4 subs from Düsseldorf in 66')
  • Mainz - Hoffenheim (30.05.2020, 5 subs at halftime)
  • Freiburg - H. Berlin (16.06.2020, 5 subs in 82')
  • 2
    20 at once that's unreal. While you're right that the friendly games don't matter as much, I like the extra piece of trivia that you've provided.
    – alamoot
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 15:36
  • 1
    Please add the match dates for the non international games. It'll make it clearer that the 4/5 subs at once happened in an era where 5 subs per side were allowed if someone looks at the answer few years from now
    – alamoot
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 15:40
  • 1
    @alamoot added all dates
    – dly
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 22:40

In a friendly match against Australia on 13 February 2003, England manager Sven Goran Eriksson substituted all 11 players at half-time. There were three reasons behind this:

  • Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had been reluctant to release their star players for friendlies that season, due to the risk of injury or fatigue, and reportedly only agreed to release them for the Australia match if Eriksson gave them no more than 45 minutes of game time.
  • Eriksson wanted to give his younger players some match experience. Indeed, one of those 11 substitutes was 17-year-old Wayne Rooney, who made his England debut that day to become the team's youngest-ever player at the time.
  • England were, at the time, losing 2-0. (They went on to lose 3-1.)

Since you're counting substitutions from both sides at once, it's worth noting that Australia also made one substitution at half-time, for a total of 12 substitutions at once.

A year later, as a direct result of Eriksson's actions, FIFA changed the rules, capping the number of substitutions in international friendlies at six per side. This record is therefore unlikely to ever be equalled, let alone beaten.

  • 1
    WOW| I knew international friendly game substitutions became limited because of Eriksson and his excessive use of it, didn't realize he subbed everyone all at once.
    – alamoot
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 15:31

Relatively to Italian Serie A, the rule goes in the season 2019/2020.

There are the matches with at least 3 contemporary subs in the last two matchdays (28 and 29):

In these days with matches post Covid-19 and the high temperatures, this behaviour is normal. The matches shown below have 10 subs in the 90 minutes

  • 2020-06-27 28° Matchday Cagliari - Torino 4:2 (4 subs on 59')

  • 2020-06-28 28° Matchday U.C. Sampdoria - F.C. Bologna 1:2 (3 subs on 80')

  • 2020-06-28 28° Matchday U.S. Sassuolo - Hellas Verona 3:3 (3 subs on 46')

  • 2020-06-28 28° Matchday S.S.C. Napoli - SPAL 3:1 (3 subs on 80')

  • 2020-06-28 28° Matchday Parma - F.C. Inter 1:2 (3 subs on 69')

  • 2020-07-01 29° Matchday F.C. Inter - Brescia 6:0 (3 subs on 46')

  • 2020-07-01 29° Matchday SPAL - AC Milan 2:2 (3 subs on 46')

  • 2020-07-01 29° Matchday Hellas Verona - Parma 3:2 (5 subs on 46')

  • 2020-07-01 29° Matchday U.S. Lecce - U.C. Sampdoria 1:2 (3 subs on 46')

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