Why is there so much injury-time at the World Cup?

The World Cup always throws up surprises, and the large amount of injury time being played in matches is definitely a talking point from the early matches in Qatar.

There was a total of 24 minutes added on in the England vs Iran game, although a lengthy injury accounted for at least some of that.

However, there was another nine minutes added on in both of the other games on day two, so it definitely feels there is a new directive to the referees in play.

Essentially it comes down to the wishes Pierluigi Collina, who retired from refereeing in 2005 yet still yields considerable influence in the game.

Collina is part of the IFAB (International Football Association Board) who oversee the laws of the game, as well as being the chairman of the FIFA referees committee. He has had a been in his bonnet about injury-time for a while, and what we are seeing is his response to it.

“What we already did in Russia [2018] was to more accurately calculate the time to be compensated,” he told ESPN just days before the World Cup.

“We told everybody to don’t be surprised if they see the fourth official raising the electronic board with a big number on it, six, seven or eight minutes.

“If you want more active time, we need to be ready to see this kind of additional time given. Think of a match with three goals scored. A celebration normally takes one, one and a half minutes, so with three goals scored, you lose five or six minutes.

“What we want to do is accurately calculate the added time at the end of each half. It can be the fourth official to do that, we were successful in Russia and we expect the same in Qatar.”

Pierluigi Collina

Pierluigi Collina – the man behind the new injury-time directive / Christopher Lee/GettyImages

It’s definitely a big part of it, and again it comes down to Collina. He has long since wanted to stamp out time-wasting, believing it to be unfair of fans both in the stadium and at home watching on television.

In an interview with Italian media outlet Calciatori Brutti in April this year, he made his position on it very clear, and predicted the kind of ‘9 minute injury time’ we are seeing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“As a spectator, I pay a ticket, physically at the stadium, or at home by TV, to see 90 minutes of football, but I only see 44, 45, 46 played. Half the price of my ticket goes into unplayed time. Most of the wasted time comes with throw-ins or goal kicks.

“These things are functional to the game, but eight to nine minutes for throw-ins, eight to nine minutes for goal-kicks? So, we are doing some thinking.

“If we’re going to be a bit more precise, we’ll have to prepare ourselves for a nine-minute injury time. Today, nine minutes is eye-popping, but give those who want to see a spectacle the chance to see a bit more.”