World Cup extra time: why is there so much added time during Qatar 2022 football matches, what has FIFA said?

FIFA say fourth officials have been instructed to keep track of time lost during the game and claim it is something that they have encouraged since Russia 2018

The FIFA World Cup is underway and it has attracted a huge audience of football fans from around the world.

There have already been a number of talking points throughout the competition such as England’s record breaking opening game victory against Iran and Argentina’s shock defeat to Saudi Arabia. However, throughout these games there seems to be a recurring theme developing - stoppage time and lots of it.

England’s 6-2 victory over Iran lasted a staggering 117 minutes and 16 seconds, making it the longest group-stage game in the 92 year history of the competition. According to Opta, the first half of England’s game with Iran had the most stoppage time of any World Cup game on record with 14 minutes and 8 seconds being added on during the first half alone.

England’s opener against Iran was far from an isolated instance and the four single halves with the most stoppage since 1966 have all taken place in this tournament. In the second half of the other Group B game between USA and Wales there were 10 minutes and 34 seconds of added time, while Senegal’s opener against Holland also exceeded 10 minutes of stoppage time.

But why is there so much added time in Qatar 2022 and can we expect 100 minute long games to continue throughout the duration of the competition? Here’s everything you need to know.

Why did England’s game against Iran last so long?

England’s game against Iran was the longest game in World Cup history and the main reason for this was the injury sustained by Iran’s goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand in the early moments of the game. Beiranvand collided with his team mate Majid Hosseini whilst defending a cross and suffered a broken nose and a concussion as a result.

Beiranvand was visibly unfit to continue the game but carried on for several more minutes following treatment. Around five minutes later the Iran goalkeeper collapsed to the ground and left the pitch on a stretcher.

The delay added a lengthy stoppage and led to great controversy over the game’s concussion rules. Former Liverpool and England goalkeeper David James criticised the decision to keep the Iran keeper on the pitch for so long and claimed that it is everything football is trying to work against.

Meanwhile former England striker Alan Shearer has called for a temporary substitution rule to be introduced during cases where there is a suspected concussion.

Why is there so much stoppage time during Qatar 2022?

Football’s governing body, FIFA are aiming to extend the number of minutes that the ball is in play to reduce time wasting tactics and make the game a more entertaining spectacle for the fans.

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil it is estimated that the ball was typically only in play on average for 60 of the 90 minutes. Four years later in Russia that number is believed to be around 52 to 58 minutes.

What has FIFA said about stoppage time?

Chairman of FIFA’s referee committee Pierluigi Collina revealed that fourth officials have been instructed to keep track of time lost during the game and claim it is something that they have encouraged since Russia 2018.

Collina said: “In Russia, we tried to be more accurate in compensating for time lost during games and that’s why you saw six, seven, or even eight minutes added on. Think about it: if you have three goals in a half, you’ll probably lose four or five minutes in total to celebrations and the restart.”

How are people reacting to the additional stoppage time?

FIFA’s new approach to stoppage time has divided opinion across social media. Some pundits have welcomed the idea and claim it clamps down on time wasting and increases the entertainment of the game, while others feel it is leading to unnecessarily long games.

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said: “Enjoying the amount of time that is being added on by the officials at the Qatar World Cup 2022 there is too much time wasting in football!”

South American football correspondent Tim Vickery had a different view. He said: “Not in favour of these giant stoppage times. Grinding the players into the ground.”

Vickery criticised the extra games that players are taking on and compared the situation to adding on extra rounds at the end of a boxing match.