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FIFA to target time wasters to guarantee minimum playing time

Time wasters have been targeted by FIFA in a series of trials aimed at speeding up play, while increasing concerns about the time the ball is in play in football.

The International Football Association board has also agreed to also push forward other measures designed to increase the pace of play, including semi-automatic offsides, which should reduce the delays currently associated with VAR. .

And IFAB said it would test the use of kick-ins instead of throw-ins, an idea first suggested by former Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger.

Last season, playing time dropped to its lowest level in the Premier League since the 2010-11 season, averaging just 55 minutes and seven seconds of action.

At some point in the fall, the ball in play for top flight dropped to its all-time low.

Man City games generally have over an hour of ball in play - the best in the Prem

Man City games generally have over an hour of ball in play – the best in the Prem

The situation is even worse in the lower divisions. The ball in play in League Two fell to 49 minutes and 45 seconds last season.

Goal kicks, corners, throw-ins, free kicks, extra substitutions and the use of VAR all contribute to a decrease in playing time.

And seconds have gone out of the game at a time when ticket prices are more expensive than ever and there are extreme variations from club to club, as well as between competitions.

In Aston Villa games, the ball is in play for an average of 52 minutes and 45 seconds

In Aston Villa games, the ball is in play for an average of 52 minutes and 45 seconds

Now the game lawmakers have had enough and plan to take action by testing various solutions.

“Trials that the IFAB board is going to investigate are related to the time, a waste of time, but also effective time, how to find a solution for this,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said at the 136th Annual General Meeting of the International Football Advisory Council.

“We all believe and have the same feeling which is not really acceptable that if we say that a football game is a 90 minute game, but in reality only 46, 47 or 48 minutes are played, we should look at that. †

“There are ways to keep track of time, to allocate extra time… but there will be some trials in this regard to calculate playing time in a fairer way.”

In October's game between West Ham and Brentford, the ball was in play for just 41 minutes

In October’s game between West Ham and Brentford, the ball was in play for just 41 minutes

A controversial proposal from the International Football Association Board in 2017 was to time matches to 30 minutes each way, with a strict countdown timer, which would be interrupted for any stoppage, no matter how small. A similar method is used in basketball.

While at first glance it may seem like fans have no game time, in fact almost all supporters would see more action. Manchester City are the only club in the Premier League to have an average of more than an hour of ball in play.

In October, Manchester City beat Burnley 2-0 in the Premier League at the Etihad and had the ball 65 minutes and 42 seconds in play, almost 13 minutes more than Clarets’ average.

Premier League fans pay significant amounts for tickets, but get less action

Premier League fans pay significant amounts for tickets, but get less action

The worst offenders in the Premier League are Aston Villa, whose fans saw an average of 52 minutes and 45 seconds of meaningful action last season.

Meanwhile, West Ham’s 2-1 home defeat to Brentford this season saw their lowest effective playing time in the top flight. It fell back to just 41 minutes and 33 seconds.

And roadside supporters at Leyton Orient fared even worse as Barrow made the long journey south. They saw the ball in play for just 36 minutes 28 seconds, in a game that ended 2-0 for the home side.

FIFA president Gianni Infantini wants action against wasted time in football

FIFA president Gianni Infantini wants action against wasted time in football

So the countdown now seems to be back on the agenda with one of the trials looking at measuring the actual time the ball is in play and adjusting the length of play accordingly. This would potentially remove the incentive to waste time.

“In terms of having the actual time the ball is played is recorded is one of the program trials that is looked at,” said Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the England FA, who is a member of IFAB.

“We’ve all talked in the room that timekeeping in football is an area where the game could get even better and we’ve seen matches where time has been wasted, so we’re looking at where actual playing time will be.” are registered and used. to determine the length of the game.’

FIFA has not listed the various trials it plans to undertake, but it is clearly determined to take action.

“We want to find the best way to play more,” said Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA’s refereeing committee.

Referees get extra help using a semi-automatic offside system

Referees get extra help using a semi-automatic offside system

Separate research has since been conducted into reducing the delay around checking offside decisions using VAR.

A semi-automatic offside system, which uses 12 cameras to generate eight million data points during a match, has been trialled at the Club World Cup and the Arab Cup and, after evaluation, could be introduced at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this winter.

FIFA is looking at visual aids to help fans in the stadium and at home understand what’s happening.

Collina told reporters it would work in a similar way to goal-line technology, which automatically generates a 3D image.

‘The [offside] line is not defined by the video assistant referee,” Collina said after the IFAB meeting. ‘It is determined by the technology that is based on the data received.

‘The VAR checks whether there is agreement between what is seen and the calculation of the technology.’

In other developments, IFAB agreed to increase the number of substitutes on the bench to 15, plus the 11 players on the field, bringing the potential match roster to 26. Individual leagues must decide whether to apply the new measure.

In addition, the temporary increase in replacements to five, implemented during Covid, has been made permanent.

And IFAB said it would allow the adjudication of bodycams for officials to address violence against umpires, particularly in the base game.

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