Why FIFA lets players play longer

SEven the sheer numbers evoke drama and excitement: a goal for the Netherlands in the 99th minute and a penalty in the 13th minute of regular time. Iran’s Mehdi Taremi, for example, scored the latest goal in World Cup history in his country’s 6-2 defeat, but there is a real risk that that record will be shattered in the next three weeks. Because all games last longer than usual, 64 minutes were replayed in the first four games alone. “What’s going on here?” Many spectators ask themselves, but this unusual approach by the referees is by no means surprising.

Pierluigi Collina, the referee chief of the world association FIFA, had already explained the new calculation of overtime last Friday. What initially sounded like a small adjustment now turns out to be a massive incision in the tectonics of the game. “We will calculate injury time very carefully and try to make up for the time lost due to incidents,” Collina said. In this tournament it is “quite normal that there can be seven, eight or nine minutes of added time”. A goal celebration alone often lasts 90 seconds, which will be replayed consistently in the future; all interruptions that last longer than 15 seconds should be added up at this World Cup and made up for after 45 or 90 minutes. “The aim is to offer the spectators the greatest possible spectacle,” Collina explained of this new variant of higher, faster, stronger, which FIFA football is resolutely following. In this case, however, it is possible that many games will actually become more attractive.

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