FIFA is considering adding full stoppage time to all games, even those with lopsided scores, as part of an effort to provide more entertainment for fans.
However, the organization’s head of refereeing, Pierluigi Collina, suggested that a “mercy rule” like the one used in baseball could be discussed in the future to end games at 90 minutes.
Why The Extension?
The push for longer stoppage time began at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where referees were instructed to add accurate amounts of time for stoppages such as goal celebrations, substitutions, injuries, and time-wasting.
This resulted in games lasting up to 100 minutes, with Spain’s 7-0 rout of Costa Rica in the group stage having eight minutes of added time, allowing Alvaro Morata to score the seventh goal.
While some may argue that lengthy added time in games like Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Manchester United can be seen as unnecessary, Collina stated that consistency is key. He also highlighted how even one goal can make a difference in competitions where goal difference is a deciding factor in the final rankings.
Plans for the Proposal
FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) are hoping to adopt World Cup-style timekeeping globally next season, making 100-minute games a routine part of domestic leagues.
However, Collina suggested that soccer could learn from baseball’s “mercy rule” to control game length. This rule ends a game when one team builds a big lead after a certain number of innings.
Collina acknowledged that some fans might view lengthy stoppage time in lopsided games as “something not really understandable.” Still, he stressed that having consistency on the field of play leads to better decision-making.
Last Report on Extended Stoppage Time
Before this report, an announcement on the discussion of an extended stoppage time was made in February. At the time, sources said that the stoppage time directive was part of a long-standing FIFA aim to create more active playing time on the field and give fans and viewers better value.
However, it led to record-setting long games at the World Cup with a slew of stoppage-time additions of more than 10 minutes early in the tournament.
Although FIFA trials at the Club World Cup in Morocco of live broadcasts during video reviews of communications between match officials were successful, organizers, such as individual domestic leagues, have not followed FIFA’s example.
Some have said they are unwilling to change policy midseason and will revisit the subject in the offseason.
Currently, nothing is confirmed with FIFA or IFAB. Aside from the stoppage time, there are also discussions on other topics like allowing an extra substitute for teams when a player sustains a suspected concussion, though not the emergency temporary replacements requested by the global players’ union FIFPRO and some head injury experts.
As FIFA continues to explore ways to provide more entertainment for fans, it will be interesting to see how the soccer community responds to the possibility of a “mercy rule” being introduced. While some may see it as a practical way to control game length, others may argue that it goes against the spirit of the game.
Whatever the outcome, one thing is clear: FIFA is committed to making soccer more exciting and engaging for fans around the world.