FIFA panel invites debate on 'radical' 60-minute game clock

AP , Sunday 18 Jun 2017

Football's rule-making panel wants debate on moving to 60-minute games and stopping the clock when the ball is not in play.

Playing two halves each of 30 minutes' actual playing time would be a ''radical change'' to the Laws of Football, the FIFA-supported International Football Association Board acknowledged.

It features in a five-year strategy document of talking points and proposals with three goals - to increase respect, playing time and attractiveness of the game.

''The aim of this document is to generate discussion and take a 'fresh' look at how the Laws could make the game better,'' IFAB said in the document called ''Play Fair!''

Any changes would take years to enact after discussions and trials overseen by IFAB, which revises football's laws annually and comprises officials from FIFA and the four British football federations.

Fans have become frustrated that games of 90 regulation minutes plus time added for stoppages at referees' discretion typically produce ''fewer than 60 minutes of effective (actual) playing time,'' IFAB said.

On Saturday, there were just 47 minutes of actual playing time in Russia's 2-0 win over New Zealand to open the Confederations Cup, according to FIFA.

The game in St. Petersburg took less than 1 hour, 50 minutes from first whistle to last, which suggests a 60-minute, stop-start clock would take more than two hours to complete as football adapted.

The 60-minute, stop-start game clock proposal would take away the incentive for timewasting by players, IFAB suggested. A stadium clock could show spectators and TV viewers when the referee accounted for play having stopped.

A second idea is for referees to stop their watch as play pauses when timewasting is most likely - the final five minutes of the first half and the last 10 minutes of the second half.

Other talking points in ''Fair Play!'' to make games faster and fairer include:

-Letting players pass to themselves from a free kick or corner

-Award penalty kicks for defenders using their hands or arms to stop a goal-bound ball

-Abolish encroachment at penalty kicks by ordering play to stop after it is saved or rebounds from the post or bar

-Pre-match handshakes in technical area for the two coaches and referee ''as a sign of respect.

FIFA showed its determination to increasing playing time and fairness by reminding Confederations Cup referees to enforce existing rules on timewasting. Referees in Russia also must monitor stoppages - including goal celebrations - more strictly by adding more additional time.

Marco van Basten, the former Netherlands and AC Milan great now leading FIFA's technical department, said on Thursday that referees typically add only one minute to the first half and three minutes to the second half.

Still, those were exactly the amounts of stoppage time added to the Russia-New Zealand game by referee Wilmar Roldan of Colombia.

FIFA has already signaled openness to radical change by Van Basten's suggestion this year that the offside rule could be abolished.

That idea was mostly met with confusion and derision, and Van Basten declined to discuss it when asked at a briefing in St. Petersburg on the eve of the Confederations Cup.

''What is going to be in the future, that's not the point at the moment,'' he said.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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