World Cup fans see more active play through strike directive

Adding more time at the end of World Cup matches to compensate for interruptions has increased average active playing time to 59 minutes, FIFA’s head said on Wednesday.

Pierluigi Collina said FIFA was “quite happy with the outcome” of games routinely expanding from the 90-minute regulation to over 100 in total.

The ball is now in play for 55 to 67 minutes, the Italian official said.

Active playing time was just 52 minutes for some matches at the 2018 World Cup when the video review of referees’ decisions debuted and some reviews took more than two minutes to complete.

“People are here to watch games and be entertained,” Collina said in an interview filmed and distributed by FIFA. “It’s like attending a concert – you’re happy and asking for an encore from the singer.”

FIFA’s directive to referees was a surprising trend at the start of the tournament in Qatar, clearly allowing more time for goal celebrations to be taken into account.

“It takes quite a long time to celebrate a goal and it’s less opportunity for opponents to play,” said Collina, who worked at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups when referees routinely added about four extra minutes to games in total.

FIFA also wanted referees to add at least one minute for an injury delay and 30 seconds for each break to make substitutions.

The average added time was more than 10 minutes after half of the 64 games played through Monday, the first World Cup in which teams were allowed five substitutions.

The average is also skewed, Collina said, by the second game of the tournament when England beat Iran 6-2. More than 27 minutes were added due to injuries, including a concussion suffered by the Iranian goalkeeper, a video review to award a penalty and eight goals.

In 2018, stoppage time in Russia averaged 6½ minutes, which would likely have increased by an extra minute if five substitutions were allowed, he suggested.

“It’s not such a dramatic change as could have been seen after the Iran-England game, which was at the very beginning of the competition,” Collina said, “so maybe created a sense that things were moving in a direction that it isn’t.”

Leave a Comment