“Changing the method of calculating extra time in a match runs the risk of breaking the game”

Tout increases with the World Cup in Qatar, also added time. To everyone’s surprise, the panels brandished by the fourth referee at the end of each half have, since the tournament opened on November 20, shown highly unusual figures happily stretching matches beyond the hundred minutes. .

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The refereeing committee of the International Football Federation (FIFA), chaired by the Italian Pierluigi Collina, tends to take its decisions without subjecting them to public debate, only to then judge them formidable. During the 2018 edition, the adoption of video-assisted refereeing (VAR) was done in a hurry. However, the intention of the new instructions is commendable: the calculation of extra time does not make up for the time lost during the match and gives little guarantee of objectivity. In 2018, a study of the World Cup in Russia showed that it was haphazard and insufficient.

The conquest of fluidity

The time outs are mainly due – for almost twenty-five minutes – to free kicks, throw-ins and goalkeeper clearances. FIFA’s goal is not so much to reduce them as to rigorously count them to add them at the end of the period, in order to increase effective playing time. From just under an hour on average you can go down to about forty minutes. In Qatar, its increase is dramatic, intentional wasters are discouraged. However, we don’t know which phases are counted, the timing is still out of the cylinder and the reference parameters are disturbed: a mini-overtime opens up at the end of the regular time.

Temporality has always been a central issue for the laws of the game: after a 1990 World Cup marked by brutality, anti-game acts and broken matches, the authorities wanted to restore the rhythm and continuity of matches. A series of reforms achieved this during that decade: restriction of passing back to the goalkeeper, balls available on the pitch, goalkeeper releasing the ball in a maximum of six seconds, harsher punishment for acts of foul play, etc. .

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Recently, two major changes have bucked these advances by adding disruptions and compromising this newfound fluency: the VAR (2018) and the two additional replacements (2020). However, the additional time did not follow proportionately. With this systematic count, FIFA seems to be preparing a small revolution: a truly effective game time, in the style of American sports, with the stopwatch stopping at every break and the end of the game at the stroke of ninety minutes.

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