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The Hat-trick | Premier League to Trial Concussion Replacement; Edinson Cavani May Face Suspension by FA; Lewandowski, Bronze Win FIFA Best Player Awards

The Hat-trick (Top Football News of the Day): The new rule will allow two permanent concussion substitutions for a club in a match regardless of the number of substitutions they have made. Premier League, however, voted against introduction of five subs per match | FA hits Edinson Cavani with misconduct charge for posting a racially insensitive message on social media | Robert Lewandowski and Lucy Bronze won best male and female player at the FIFA awards in Zurich.
Lucy Bronze wins FIFA Best award

England star Lucy Bronze accepts the FIFA Best Women Player of the Year award virtually on Thursday.

The Premier League stakeholders have voted in favour of introducing additional permanent concussion replacement during matches after the sport’s rule-making body, the IFAB, approved trials. Representatives of all 20 clubs attended the meeting on Thursday during which they once again voted against the introduction of five substitutions in a game.

There was a growing demand in footballing circles for the governing bodies to acknowledge the dangers of head injuries during games and bring in rules that could help in protecting the players. The introduction of concussion substitution would at least ensure players don’t continue playing with head trauma, and possibly endanger himself with issues that could potentially remain with him the entire life. 

The new rule will allow a maximum of two permanent concussion replacements in cases of head injuries. This is above and beyond the number of substitutions a team has already made during the match. It will also allow the opposing team to make an equivalent number of changes. The Premier League is hoping to start the trails by January before fully implementing the rules.

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“The trial is a result of the IFAB’s consultation with stakeholders and recommendations from their concussion expert group to allow additional substitutions for players with actual or suspected concussion,” the league said in a statement. “The League will now apply for permission from the IFAB, via The FA (Football Association), to take part in the trial which could be implemented as early as January 2021.”

Meanwhile, Reuters cited a source as saying that as many as 10 clubs voted against allowing teams to make five substitutions per match this season. With the late start to the season forcing a packed calendar, many top flight managers -- including Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola of Manchester City -- had demanded increased quota of substitutions per match to protect their players from injuries. However, not all bosses were in support of this. The smaller teams, and those with no commitments in Europe, were not too keen on increasing the number of subs per match. They felt that it would only aid the bigger clubs with deeper bench strength. 

The proposal to introduce five subs was again tabled during the stakeholders’ meet on Thursday. But it failed to garner the threshold of 14 votes in favour. The clubs, instead, agreed to increase the number of players allowed on the bench from seven to nine. This measure will come into effect from this weekend.

Cavani in Trouble

Edinson Cavani was charged with misconduct by the English FA for posting a racially insensitive message on social media. The Uruguayan, who faces a suspension, has been asked to file a reply to the charge by January 4. Manchester United, who have stood by their striker through the controversy, are mulling their response.

Cavani made headlines after bagging a brace in a 3-2 victory for Manchester United against Southampton on November 29. He then used racially insensitive words while replying to a “friend” on Instagram. The 33-year-old apologised for his actions, saying: “The message I posted after the game on Sunday was intended as an affectionate greeting to a friend, thanking him for his congratulations after the game.

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“The last thing I wanted to do was cause offence to anyone. I am completely opposed to racism and deleted the message as soon as it was explained that it can be interpreted differently. I would like to sincerely apologise for this.”

The FA, though, has seen things differently.  The governing body took action against Cavani, and he could be banned and/or fined for the infringement.

“Edinson Cavani has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3, in relation to a social media post on Thursday 29 November 2020,” read a FA statement.

“It is alleged that, contrary to FA Rule E3.1, a comment posted on the Manchester United FC player's Instagram page was insulting and/or abusive and/or improper and/or brought the game into disrepute,” the statement added. “It is further alleged that the comment constitutes an 'Aggravated Breach', which is defined in FA Rule E3.2, as it included a reference, whether express or implied, to colour and/or race and/or ethnic origin. The striker has until Monday 4 January 2021 to provide a response to the charge.”

Man United felt there was “absolutely no malicious intent” behind Cavani’s message, with the Premier League outfit claiming that interaction between two friends has been “misconstrued”.

A ban on Cavani would jeopardize United’s Premier League campaign. Only eight points separate league leaders Liverpool and ninth-placed United, who have played two games fewer.

The club’s title hopes rest squarely on the results in the upcoming five matches, scheduled for the next 16 days. United played Sheffield United on Thursday winning 3-2. They will then play Leeds United, Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa in quick succession. A League Cup quarterfinal against Everton is also part of the schedule. That match will take place on December 23.

“This is a big run of games for us,” Man U manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said. “This period is going to be vital and it’ll be easier for me to answer around that time. I’d be disappointed if the players didn’t think we can put a challenge up.”

“At the moment, anything goes in the league,” Solskjaer added. “This season is going to be very up and down. Whoever finds the consistency and the energy will have a better chance than in the last few seasons, because there’s been a few runaway teams,” he added.

Lewandowski, Bronze, Klopp and Wiegman Win

Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski won the best men's player at the Best FIFA Football Awards, beating past winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the top prize.

The Poland striker scored 55 goals in just 47 games last season as he helped German giants Bayern Munich to the treble. Lewandowski, 32, finished as the top scorer in the league, cup and UEFA Champions League.

The winners were decided by nominations from national team captains and head coaches, an online ballot of fans and 200 media representatives.

Jurgen Klopp was recognised for leading Liverpool to their first Premier League title by being named the best men's coach for the second successive year. The German won the award in 2019 after lifting the Champions League with Liverpool and beat Bayern Munich Hansi Flick and Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa to the top honour this year. 

Manchester City defender Lucy Bronze was named The Best FIFA Women's Player for 2020 ahead of Pernille Harder and Wendie Renard, while future England Women's head coach Sarina Wiegman won The Best FIFA Women's Coach award.

Bronze returned to City in the summer after spending three years at Lyon, where she won three straight Champions League and French league titles. 

Wiegman guided the Netherlands to eight straight wins in UEFA Women's Championship qualifying, though come the tournament she will be in charge of England after Euro 2021 was pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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