Pierluigi Collina is confident that FIFA’s bid to get more effective playing time into games will be successful, stressing that no fan wants to watch games that last 43 minutes.
FIFA introduced measures to increase lost time at the World Cup, which led to many games running over 10 minutes of additional time during the group stage. The amount dropped after the group stage, with Collina believing players had learned that they would not be able to waste time.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
At last weekend’s IFAB AGM, which set the laws and framework for the 2023-24 season, it was decided that the approach taken during the World Cup should be adopted by all competitions around the world.
Collina, chairman of the FIFA referees’ committee, insists it isn’t about creating extra playing time, but compensating for time lost during injuries, substitutions, penalties, red cards, VAR interventions and goal celebrations. He said that games in domestic leagues are already regularly running at over 100 minutes.
Collina added that longer additional time was well received in Qatar by players, coaches and spectators, with effective playing time at the 2022 World Cup 59 minutes and 47 seconds, compared to 55 minutes 41 seconds four years earlier. In comparison, the effective playing time for the Premier League is at 54 minutes and 19 seconds.
“It seems like we did something new at the World Cup,” Collina explained. “Based on the numbers, it’s not really true. Last weekend, 10 matches played in the Premier League, and four of them had 10, two 12 and one 14 minutes of additional time given. So four already exceed the 100 that is mentioned. Two of these would have been even higher but only because they were 7-0 and 4-0, the referee probably decided not to consider the additional time to be given accurately.
“So basically, it’s not really something completely new. What is important is to get consistency. The criteria we fixed very clearly, and that is the reason why the additional time given at the World Cup was well received by players and coaches, because they knew what they should have expected. When there is consistency on the field of play ever decision is better accepted.”
FIFpro, the players’ union, has raised concerns, suggesting it could lead to players playing an extra three games across the course of a season. But Collina added that the average added time in the Premier League is already at 8 mins 6 seconds, and a more stringent application of lost time is likely to only add three minutes.
“We are not talking of adding something on top,” Collina explained. “We are talking of compensating for time that was not played during a match. We are not considering a goal of 70 to 75 [minutes playing time], no we want to avoid 43. Aston Villa vs. Brentford this season was 43. I don’t think there is someone who likes watching a 43-minutes lasting match.”
Questions have been raised about referees clamping down on goalkeepers wasting time when they have the ball in their hands for much longer than six seconds, the limit defined within the Laws. Collina admitted that this law had been unintentionally relaxed over time, and feels it should be more strictly enforced again.
“The game, year by year, became less clean somehow,” Collina said. “Certainly more than six seconds is taken by the goalkeeper. We will work on this, but we don’t need any IFAB [the lawmakers] intervention.
“This is a matter only for those that deal with refereeing at the different levels. I know that it is difficult for a referee to blow up and punish a goalkeeper for a six-second rule break, because it’s an indirect free kick with the ball inside the penalty area, it might be a goal and there might be consequences.
“This is an obligation of FIFA, confederations and the competition organisers to get the current rules more enforced, and we will do it. Sometimes I feel we have lost a bit of clean in the match.”
Pierluigi Collina defends FIFA push for more added time