World football’s rule-making body has given the go-ahead to trials for concussion substitutes which could take place at this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The International Football Association Board, at its annual general meeting in Belfast on Saturday, said more research was needed before a permanent change was made to the laws of the game.

IFAB is considered the independent guardian of the laws of football.

Officials, in a statement issued after the meeting, paved the way for trials, with football one of several sports increasingly concerned by the impact of head injuries.

“The International Football Association Board (The IFAB)... agreed to draw up protocols to be used in trials for substitutions in cases of concussion,” the statement said.

“The IFAB also agreed that more research data is required before proposing possible changes to the Laws of the Game.

It added: “FIFA (football’s global governing body) indicated a strong interest in having trials at the men’s and women’s Olympic Games football tournament in July 2020, with other competitions also being able to take part in the trials.”

Meanwhile IFAB also indicated a possible change to the offside law which has come under renewed scrutiny in English football in particular as a result of goals being disallowed following hairline decisions by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

“The AGM agreed to consultation with all the relevant stakeholders, including the IFAB technical advisory panel (TAP) and the football advisory panel (FAP), to review the offside Law to foster the spirit of attacking play,” the statement added.

Concussion substitutes, be they temporary or permanent, are already a feature of rugby union and some within football have called for permanent concussion substitutes.

The current assessment time allowed for concussion in a major football match is three minutes but there have been calls for this to be extended to 10 minutes.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who attended the IFAB meeting, said: “If there is any doubt you have to keep the player out, and for the coach to have another possibility, he knows there is an additional substitution.

“Often we were criticised for being slow (on concussion). Now, we move, we try, and then we’ll see.”

But Peter McCabe, the chief executive of brain injury charity Headway, insisted Saturday’s announcement meant “nothing will actually change for the injured player” as the assessment time remained unaltered.

“Three minutes is simply not long enough to give medics a suitable window to diagnose concussion – a position that other sports, such as rugby, have quickly come to realise,” McCabe added.