Mid-way through the World Cup and fresh off the 2013-2014 football season in Europe, this has become a factor affecting teams more as of late. Added time.
The technical terminology for it really is “allowance for time lost”. It includes time lost through substitutions, injures and time delays. It doesn’t include when the ball leaves the field of play naturally and needs to be retrieved. To learn more, see the post here.
The focus here, however, is what we have been seeing over the matches recently.
The most recent UEFA Champions League final had 5 added minutes. There was almost an uproar on Bjorn Kuipers but he was well-justified in doing so given the stoppages that had to be dealt with. Is it finally time when teams are being cracked down upon for time-wasting?
An even stronger case is during the current World Cup. Several group stage matches have had significant amounts of added time (3+ minutes) that have angered a few managers and players. Have you noticed the significant amounts of added time being included in the recent matches? Are they realising referees are cracking down? Will it prevent this form of gamesmanship?
I draw the line here to say that the referees have taken a stronger stance on this. Players have been warned.
But. Is this enough?
In my honest opinion, no.
What we see nowadays is teams aiming for a result and that’s enough. That’s fair. A win is a win whether by an inch or a mile but not at the expense of the image of the game. Prolonged stoppages not limited to but including having to deal with numerous injuries (some which may not be true) as well as excessive amounts of time taken in restarting play. This frustrates opponents and shows a clear lack of respect for the game.
In the refereeing mindset, sometimes it comes down to “So what? I will add more time” – what we are seeing now.
This is the easy way. The harder way is the route of cards. Cautions for Unsporting behaviour or Delaying the Restart of Play but that avenue presents a risk. Harsher discipline from the league but above all, it could result in a send-off which referees, for the most part try to actively avoid according to the circumstances. The easy way is to point to the watch and let them know you’ll be adding time. The vast majority of time, players will disregard this threat and will continue anyways. It becomes an empty ultimatum.
Something that fails to be better recognised is momentum. When a team takes the lead, they try to slow the game down, prevent their opponents from gaining possession and do nothing but run crop circles as far away from their goal as they can. Goalkeepers coaxing attackers to force them to pick up the ball in an effort to burn away at as much time as they can. Not to mention the new found love for shielding the ball near opposing corner flags!
The entertainment value is being lost from the game however it is during play so it is perfectly legal and referees simply need to be vigilant of misconduct in case of attacking team frustration or unseen gamesmanship from the defending team. Part and parcel of the game.
The momentum killer is the game-changer. It truly changes and affects the game when teams try to kill another team’s momentum when the ball is out of play.
To save football from this fatal development, this must be dealt with. Players must be cautioned and understand that the game needs to flow and continue. We cannot allow the behaviour to continue.
The yellow cards need to start coming out. Adding time isn’t enough.