Powered by

Explained: Why so much added time at Qatar 2022 World Cup

FIFA has long been agitated about dwindling amount of effective playing time

extra-time-wc-ap Representational image | AP

The FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is only three days old but the highlight has been the added time in the matches.

England's 6-2 mauling of Iran in a group B match saw 14 minutes at the end of first half and 10 minutes at the end of the second. Fourteen minutes were added again at the end of Argentina's shocking 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

ALSO READ: Who is Herve Renard, the master brain behind Saudi's stunning win over Argentina?

Every game so far at the 2022 Qatar 2022 World Cup has exceeded 100 minutes, thanks to the longer added time. The five longest periods of stoppage time for a single half of football at any World Cup were all played in Qatar since Monday, according to statistics site Opta Joe.

Even more surprising were the Netherlands-Senegal and the United States-Wales games each entering the 11th minute of time added at the end for the several types of stoppages in modern football.

But why is this happening?

One of the most iconic football referees, Pierluigi Collina had warned that fans should expect such situations in Qatar. “What we already did in Russia [2018] was to more accurately calculate the time to be compensated,” the chairman of the FIFA referees committee told ESPN.

“If you want more active time, we need to be ready to see this kind of additional time given," he said.

ALSO READ: 'Brazil Hexa!' Inside a country's dream of a sixth World Cup

Collina insisted the directive to referees "is something not new".

FIFA officials have long been agitated about the dwindling amount of effective playing time in the regulation 90 minutes.

In 2017, a 60-minute, stop-start game clock like in basketball was suggested by Marco van Basten when the Netherlands great was then FIFA technical director.

Five years ago, even Van Basten noted wryly it had become routine for referees to add one minute in the first half and three in the second regardless of what actually happened on the field.

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the ball was typically in play for about 60 minutes. That was down to between 52 and 58 minutes at the 2018 tournament in Russia, according to one statistical analysis.

"What we want to avoid is to have a match lasting 42, 43, 44, 45 minutes of active play. This is not acceptable," said Collina, widely seen as the best referee of his generation when he worked at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

Video review that was first used at the World Cup four years ago, has caused some of the modern delays, with stoppages often lasting about two minutes to check on game-changing incidents.

Goal celebrations that now go on and on have also tested FIFA's patience.

"Celebrations may last one, one and a half minutes," Collina said last Friday at a briefing about FIFA instructions to their match officials in Qatar.

"It's easy to lose three, four, five minutes only for goal celebrations and this has to be considered and compensated at the end."

Five second-half goals in England's win over Iran shows that, plus there was a VAR review to award Iran a penalty at the end of the 10 minutes of stoppage time that were initially indicated.

It helped England complete 730 passes - the second most in any World Cup game that did not include extra time.

Still, there was only one second-half goal in the 1-1 draw between the United States and Wales.

While fans are getting used to the new norm of longer games and broadcasters perhaps adjust their running times of programmes - the current solution is arguably better than those proposed five years ago.

Van Basten's team also suggested research into combating late-game time-wasting by letting referees stop their watch as play paused toward the end of each half. Both ideas were soon shelved.

📣 The Week is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TheWeekmagazine) and stay updated with the latest headlines