Stoppage time must be added accurately even in one-sided matches like Liverpool v Manchester United last Sunday, FIFA referees chief Pierluigi Collina has said.
Football’s world governing body ordered officials at the last World Cup in Qatar to more accurately calculate stoppage time, including time lost in goal celebrations.
That led to 10 minutes and 11 seconds of additional time being played on average at the 2022 finals compared to six minutes and 30 seconds at the 2018 finals in Russia.
Effective playing time in Qatar was found to be 59 minutes and 47 seconds, compared to 55 minutes and 41 seconds in Russia.
The guidance to referees in Qatar must now be followed by all competitions worldwide from July 1 after a decision taken at the annual general meeting of the game’s lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board, last Saturday.
Collina said it was “understandable” why only three minutes of stoppage time were added in the second half of Liverpool’s 7-0 Premier League rout of Manchester United last Sunday.
However, the Italian said that unless the laws of the game were changed to automatically cut short matches where a team is winning by a big margin, adding on stoppage time accurately was vital in any competition where goal difference was a factor.
Asked what additional time had been played at Anfield, and what it should have been, Collina said: “It was one (minute in the first half) plus three (in the second half). Consider that six goals were scored in the second half.
“I can understand that showing the relevant amount of time or the additional amount of time when it’s 7-0 is difficult to understand in the specific match.
“But if the competition regulations say that goal difference is relevant for the ranking at the end (of the season), even one goal scored or not scored can make the difference.
“When I played baseball, there was a rule that, after the sixth inning, if there was a difference in terms of score of more than six, the match was over.
“Maybe in the future we may consider within the laws of the game to say that additional time has not to be given at the end of the match if there is a difference of ‘X’ goals between the teams. But these would be (changes to) the laws of the game.
“In Spain against Costa Rica at the World Cup, Spain scored one goal in the additional time. That goal could have cost Spain or Costa Rica qualification to the next round.
“But I understand that adding additional time when the result is 7-0 would be seen as something not really understandable.”
Collina demonstrated that the World Cup average was not too far ahead of what other competitions worldwide were adding even before the new guidance came in.
He highlighted that 10 minutes or more of additional time had been added in four of the 10 Premier League matches played last weekend. He also noted that the average amount of time added on at the World Cup decreased as the tournament wore on – from 11 minutes and six seconds in the group phase to 10 minutes and 15 seconds by the semi-finals and final, and even dropped down to seven minutes and 15 seconds in the last 16.
Collina said: “Players understood wasting time was not beneficial any more, because all the time they wasted was usually compensated at the end of the match.
“So once the players realised that, that there was no benefit in wasting time, they stopped wasting time basically.”
FIFA provided a sample of the additional time being played in competitions around the world prior to the World Cup, which highlighted the Premier League’s average was eight minutes and six seconds, dropping to seven minutes and seven seconds in Scotland’s cinch Premiership.
He said the feedback on the new approach had been overwhelmingly positive.
However, a FIFPRO report published earlier on Thursday said the new guidelines could lead to players with existing high workloads playing the equivalent of three extra matches per season, and said that should be factored into discussions around fixture planning.
— FIFPRO (@FIFPRO) March 9, 2023
The world players’ union’s general secretary, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, said his organisation had been “caught by surprise” by the guidelines.
But Collina insisted FIFPRO was consulted via the IFAB advisory panels on the efforts to increase effective playing time, with information also shared with the 32 teams competing in Qatar at a workshop in Doha in April last year.
He said it was at those advisory panels that a proposal to introduce a stop clock was abandoned, with the focus shifting to more accurate calculation of stoppages within the existing laws of the game.
Collina also called on referees to be more “proactive” in reducing the length of minor stoppages where time is not added back, such as throw-ins, free-kicks and corners.