Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stoppage Time Inconsistency

The inconsistent determination of stoppage time has been gnawing at me for years, but it came to a head over the last two weekends.

First we had Norwich and West Ham playing out a drab, scoreless second half at Carrow Road, where there were no injuries, no goals, a single yellow card and five substitutions, all of which were done efficiently with minimum wasted time. The referee somehow found three minutes to add on.

As I write, Liverpool versus Manchester United is drawing to a close. The second half has had three goals, all celebrated at length, three yellow cards, four substitutions plus two major injuries (Agger and Rafael) that combined stopped the game for a minimum of six minutes. Yet there was only five minutes stoppage time showing on the fourth official's board. While I can't prove it, I guarantee that without the injuries there would have been three minutes added, which means the 6-7 minutes of actual injuries were only deemed worthy of two additional minutes.

In general, it seems that referees add one minute to the first half and three minutes to the second half, no matter what happens. If something exceptional happens, they then add one or two more minutes.

This needs to stop. We have been calling for transparency from FIFA, UEFA, CONCACAF, etc. We also need it from our referees. The IFAB needs to look at the issue of stoppage time and come up with a clear, unambiguous explanation as to how referees should decide how much time to add on. Otherwise, we'll be left with inconsistency and the feeling that some teams are given more additional time when they are losing than others.