The 2022 World Cup has been a superb spectacle on the pitch, with some of the world’s best teams and players shining on the biggest stage of the international game.
One of the most surprising features of the group stages of World Cup 2022 was the amount of stoppage time played in each game. In fact, in the group stages of the competition, an incredible 563 minutes or nine hours were added on by officials. Only one of the competition’s first eight games finished in under 100 minutes.
For example, England’s opener, a 6-2 win over Iran, ended up being 127 minutes, which included stoppage time for a nasty injury to the Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand. However, Beiranvand had experienced the injury in stoppage time in the first place.
Why so much stoppage time in the group stages?
|Stage||Overall Added Time (Ave)||Added Time Indicated (Ave)|
Well, it was down to a new FIFA directive aimed at preventing players from wasting time and gaining an advantage when needing a result. The stoppage time is also added to take into account injuries, VAR decisions and other factors that may use up any of those valuable supposed 90 minutes of play.
Chairman of FIFA’s referee’s committee Pierluigi Collina has stated that the fourth officials on the sidelines were instructed to keep a close eye on any time lost during the game. The Italian stated that this also happened at the last World Cup in Russia.
Collina went on to say: “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,” he stated at a pre-tournament briefing.
“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.”
Record-breaking amounts of time played
|Fixture||Half||Amount of time played|
|England v Iran||First half||13.59 minutes|
|Argentina v Saudi Arabia||Second Half||13.53|
|England v Iran||Second half||13:05|
|USA v Wales||Second half||10:32|
|Senegal v Netherlands||Second half||10:03|
Due to the stoppage time added on in many games at World Cup 2022, it has become a tournament that has broken records. In fact, the current edition has registered the longest five halves ever seen at any single World Cup, excluding extra time.
The table above looks at the five longest halves ever seen at a World Cup by minutes (excluding extra time)
Of course, longer games give players more opportunities to score late goals. Iran and Porto forward Mehdi Taremi broke a record with his goal in the 6-2 defeat by England, as his penalty strike clocked in at 102:30, which is the latest World Cup goal ever scored, once again excluding extra time goals.
Mixed opinion on the stoppage-time
The vast stoppage-time divided opinion. Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher came out in support of it. At the same time, South American football expert Tim Vickery argued that it was excessive and not good for the player’s well-being.
The new development also led to mixed opinions amongst football fans worldwide on social media. It even became a joke amongst UK commentators, who seemed to milk the situation for all it’s worth.
Have players learnt their lessons about wasting time?
The vast stoppage time added on in the early group stage games seems to have now died down in the knockout stages of the competition. The sight of eight, nine or ten minutes of stoppage time on the fourth official’s digital board now seems to be a thing of the past.
Maybe those early attempts at preventing time-wasting have actually taught the players a lesson? Or have officials decided that the earlier games’ stoppage time was, in fact, slightly excessive?
Whatever the reason, we are unlikely to see the same amount of extraordinary stoppage time in games for the rest of the World Cup unless there is a severe injury or a VAR decision that takes longer than usual to check.
This World Cup has certainly shown us the dangers of leaving a game early, as in those early stages of the competition, you never really knew when the games would end. Now we are back to closer to two halves of 45 minutes, which for some is a relief and for others a disappointment.