FIFA rules panel stresses need for more added time in games

AP , Saturday 4 Mar 2023

The 100-minute matches that became routine at the World Cup in Qatar are set to become routine in club soccer, FIFA’s rule-making panel said Saturday.

File Photo: Referees will be urged to add more time for substitutions at the World Cup. AP

The panel known as IFAB stressed the need for accurate calculation of time added on for stoppages in play because of injuries, substitutions, time-wasting and goal celebrations.

After the annual IFAB meeting held in London — involving FIFA and the four British soccer federations — the anti-discrimination “One Love” armband that provoked problems in Qatar with the host nation was addressed again.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and English federation chief executive Mark Bullingham said the armband issue should next be resolved well ahead of the Women’s World Cup that starts in July. Co-host nations Australia and New Zealand are unlikely to object.

At the World Cup in Qatar, five minutes of additional time each half became routine as referees followed FIFA instructions and several games stretched for 10 minutes after the regulation 90.

“It has been widely appreciated by everyone. We want to fight against time-wasting, we want the fans to enjoy the game,” Infantino said at the IFAB news conference.

Infantino said the laws of soccer need not be changed as they already require additional time to be calculated accurately.

“We have to ensure that also the application of the laws of the game are universal,” Infantino said, noting they were currently inconsistent with average effective ball-in-play time in leagues worldwide ranging from 50 to 60 minutes per game.

“We will monitor leagues all over the world” to ensure proper stoppage time is played, Infantino said, though adding, “I don’t think there is any coercive measure to be taken.”

Referees adding on the full amount of time for an injury stoppage “removed the incentive for players to stay down longer than necessary,” Bullingham said.

The panel agreed they did not want to curb goal celebrations.

“They are the essence of the joy of football,” said Patrick Nelson of the Northern Ireland federation. “But equally if you’re the team that has just conceded the goal you want to make sure that time is added back on.”

The laws of soccer and World Cup regulations are clear on stopping teams using unauthorized equipment yet several European teams wanted their captains in Qatar to wear the One Love armband — a multi-colored design with a heart-shaped logo to promote anti-discrimination.

The dispute flared hours before the tournament's opening ceremony and into the next day with FIFA, under pressure from Qatari organizers, threatening disciplinary measures on the field.

The federations, including England, Germany and the Netherlands, backed down and captains wore FIFA-approved armbands.

“Nobody enjoyed the circumstances that we had at the men’s World Cup. That was difficult for all of us,” said Bullingham, who took part in the fractious meetings with FIFA in Doha.

“We‘ve started a conversation that we can resolve the situation a long time before the (Women’s) World Cup,” he said.

Infantino pledged what FIFA will “try to do better this time is to search and look for dialogue with everyone involved” and express feelings “without hurting anyone else.”

FIFA and English officials also continued to disagree on one aspect of treating players with suspected concussions in games.

IFAB will continue with trials of permanent substitutions for players with head injuries — the FIFA-preferred option — instead of allowing trials with temporary replacements. That’s the option supported by the English Premier League and MLS that would allow injured players to be assessed pitchside for a longer period and potentially return to the game.

Bullingham said permanent substitutes for concussed players is the best model for grassroots soccer and lower professional levels. The temporary replacements are wanted at elite level.

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

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