Alternatives to Time-Wasting in Football


David De Gea’s goalkeeping heroics in Manchester
United’s recent 1-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur were remarkable for many reasons.
Perhaps not since Jan Tomaszewski has Wembley Stadium witnessed a Sondico-shaped forcefield
of such invincibility. In fact, his instinctive reactions to a series
of helpfully aimed Spurs shots ranked third on the all-time Premier League list for most
saves in a single game. But the Spaniard’s performance was also noteworthy for the amount
of time he wasted. It’s been reported that De Gea’s goal-kicks
amounted to almost 5% of the match, which saw a total of 10 restarts from the away side
taking an average of 26 seconds per clearance. While the club’s enduring “Attack, Attack,
Attack” philosophy has clearly still to recover from Jose Mourinho’s ideological
hack, this serves to illustrate a broader issue at the centre of football, which the
sport’s authorities are now seeking to address. In November, The International FA Board (IFAB)
confirmed plans to discuss a range of measures intended to combat time-wasting. Founded upon
the organisation’s 2017 PLAY FAIR! initiative, the news came shortly after a Premier League
match between Cardiff and Burnley, which saw the ball in play for 42 minutes and two seconds. Officially confirmed as the shortest amount
of actual playing time in the English top flight since December 2013, when supporters
enjoyed 40 minutes and 50 seconds of Stoke City against Aston Villa, fans spent eight
mins waiting for Cardiff’s Sean Morrison to work his way through 20 throw-ins. For some time, pressure has been growing on
the international football community to reconsider traditional timekeeping measures, a fact highlighted
on the biggest stage at last summer’s World Cup tournament. The game’s showpiece event
featured the dazzling spectacle of Neymar rolling around the grass for approximately
15 mins. The competition actually provided an even
more acute illustration of the damaging and defining impact such behaviour can have on
the sport. In July, FiveThirtyEight, a website that uses data to analyse happenings in global
news and sport, crunched the numbers on Russia’s footballing fiesta. Founded by famed statistician Nate Silver,
who successfully predicted the outcomes in 49 of the 50 states at the 2008 US Presidential
election, they targeted two key themes: amount of time wasted by each team at the tournament
and the accuracy of stoppage time added by referees at every match. Their findings were simultaneously alarming
and depressingly predictable. In the first example, isolating five basic activities that
allow players to control game pace – throw-ins, goal kicks, corner kicks, free kicks and substitutions
– a total of 4,529 points of data sourced from 48 group stage games revealed: “Teams
that are leading take about 34% longer to complete these activities than teams that
are trailing.” In the second example, FiveThirtyEight used
a stopwatch and a team of timekeepers to track all 3194 stoppages during the first 32 games
played at the World Cup. Their findings confirmed that the current system is “wildly inaccurate”,
a fact graphically underlined by the Group B game between Iran and Morocco. “Each side used all three substitutes; there
was only one booking; no goals were scored. In a group with Spain and Portugal, both teams
presumably were eager to steal a crucial three points and break the 0-0 tie. When the game
reached the 90-minute mark, the fourth official raised the electronic board to indicate six
minutes of added time. It should have read 14 minutes,” they explained. In a bid to address the issue, The IFAB have
proposed a range of ideas “to reduce time-wasting and ’speed up’ the game”. These measures
include: Stricter calculation of additional time and Goalkeeper holding the ball. Here
referees will be directed to stop the clock whenever incidents such as a goal, penalty,
injury or substitution take place and enforce the six seconds rule when goalkeepers are
in possession. Other strategies listed as part of PLAY FAIR!
include: Self-passing at a free kick, corner kick and goal kick. This idea, which would
allow a fouled player to continue playing directly after a foul, was part of the original
1863 Laws of the Game. Further options include: Moving ball at goal kick and Goal kick position.
These would rethink the existing parameters of the sport at the point of a goalkeeper
restarting play. Elsewhere, more dramatic policy changes have
also been outlined, for example: Effective playing time (EPT). This centres on stopping
the clock whenever the ball is out of play and could result in a match consisting of
two periods of 30 minutes rather than 45. “Such a radical change would not only mean
that there would be less point in players wasting time but would also mean that in a
competition every club would play exactly the same amount of EPT,” explained The IFAB.
Another option is: Stadium clocks. This would provide a direct and accurate visualisation
for fans to the referee’s official match calculations. However, in an interview with Tifo, The IFAB
explained that their immediate priority at the upcoming AGM in Aberdeen would centre
on “simple and immediate measures”, namely the potentially mandatory introduction of
one specific strategy: Substitutions. This commands substituted players to leave the
field of play by the nearest boundary rather than at the halfway line and has already been
successfully trialled globally. Elsewhere, the organisation, which includes
four British football associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and
FIFA, remain focussed on the landmark recent introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VAR)
and seeking to build greater education about the laws of the game to the sport’s global
audience. The IFAB told Tifo: “Our goal has always
been and will continue to be the development of the Laws of the Game and how the game is
played, based on ‘what football wants’. But we also want to ensure the image of the
game can improved by focusing any relevant amendments on the behaviour and fairness on
the field of play.”

100 thoughts on “Alternatives to Time-Wasting in Football

  1. this would be so easy to combat if football did what rugby do and stop the clock whenever an injury or throw or anything that stops play happens the start the clock when play restarts and get rid of stoppage time

  2. it is 90 minutes anyway. enough playing time. There are not even breaks so i think time is fair. It is not easy to run around for 90 minutes. like a marathon. people cover 3km every match.

  3. Here is an idea for the six seconds rule; a keeper takes longer than that and he's shown a mandatory yellow. This rule should also apply to players taking throw ins.

  4. Want to get rid of time-wasting? Add a clock that stops whenever a ball goes out for a throw-in/goal kick or there's a foul. Two thirty-minute halves. (EDIT: wrote this before the point came up in the video lol)

  5. This is a really well-timed video, I recently watched some of the 5th round matches in the FA cup and it was just like clockwork, as soon as a goal was scored, no matter how early in the game, the team would just start painfully wasting time whenever they could… just kills the flow and interest of the game…

  6. they should leave the game alone!
    time wasting is part of the strategy of the game.
    it may be anoying to the loosing side but its somhow phenomenal to the winning site.
    yah i whine when time is wasted cos my team is loosing but am joyful when time is wasted cos my team is wining .
    and yes am pretty annoyed when too much time is added cos my team is wining!

  7. In terms of stoppage time, Why don’t they just play by rugby rules, there’s no added stoppage time, the clock simply stops when the game stops, and restarts when the game starts. Thus, 90 minuets of pure football.

    Then just have strickter punishments and post match reviews

  8. Get a watch with a button that pauses the game clock. All down to the official….. Then crack on them….

    Basically you can't stop time wasting. It's in every sport. Basketball- foul before they can't shoot…
    Baseball- pitching change
    Hockey- 2-1-2
    NFL- take a knee

    Maybe like volleyball or something like that but the big5…. It's a part of the game ..

    Ohh maybe if you actually injure the winning team a ref might add it on… Idk. Y'all difficult. I'm trying to help but it's dumb… Gahahaha

  9. I’ve been a die-hard advocate for these changes. I think it’s an absolute disgrace to the sport that such cheap tactics are rewarded. Thank you so much for this video!

  10. Easy solution, just stop the fucking clock when the ball goes out of play, or if it's a free kick etc. It's not hard.

  11. While reading the comment section, I see that some people think that stopping the clock will solve the problem, but in my opinion more complex protocols are required. We need to discourage players from wasting time because it ruins the flow of the game, and it may affect the momentum of a team.
    Here are some ideas that I have:

    -Limit the usage of VAR technology. Referees will not use VAR voluntarily. A team is allowed to ask for a VAR revision only three times per game.

    -Create a protest protocol. Players can only discuss a decision by a referee if they want to ask for VAR technology. Only the captains of both teams and the players involved in a VAR revision are allowed to discuss with the referee. Any other player discussing with the referee will receive a yellow card.

    At any other circumstance, if a player protests any decision made by the referee, the referee will give the player a yellow card for lack of respect.

    -Reduce time-wasting due to injury. Any player that remains in the ground may receive medical treatment immediately. In this case, the clock will be stopped. If the player doesn't receive medical treatment immediately, the referee will give the player 20 seconds to get up or allow him to call for medical assistance. If 20 seconds have passed, the referee will make a signal to stop the clock. In this case, medical assistance will be mandatory and the player will be given a yellow card for time-wasting. Players who receive medical assistance will have to leave the field but will be able to return with the permission of the referee whenever the ball is out of play.

    -Punish time-wasting. Referees will give a team 20 seconds to make goal-kicks, indirect free-kicks, and throw-ins. If 20 seconds have passed, the opposing team will be awarded with a throw-in, a free-kick, or a corner-kick.

    If these protocols are followed, I don't think it is necessary to stop the clock every single free-kick or when the ball is out of play. Also, no added time will be necessary.

  12. How about yellow cards for when players pull that "I've just been shot" pathetic face when they get tapped. And a £20,000 weekly wage cap. That would solve a lot of the problems.

  13. Yellow cards!!!! 15 minutes on the bench! Yellow cards DO NOTHING right now, a warning is NOTHING in exchange for a hard foul or "tactical" foul….

  14. FIFA needs to start paying attention to FIH (field hockey). They have been innovating the games very succesfully for years by introducing and cutting rules that make the sport much more attractive. They just pause the clock so there is no point in wasting time, introduced self-passes ages ago, oh and believe it or not they actually have a functioning VAR. Still don't understand why FIFA couldn't just copy their system…

  15. The most simple solution is also the easiest one to implement: Effective playing time, such as used in basketball and indoor soccer would eliminate all time-wasting behaviour period. Simply because there is no time to be wasted as the clock isn't ticking. No arbitrary stoppage time anymore either.

    To implement it, researchers would just have to work out how much effective playing time is needed to get to a total game-time of 90 -100 minutes by analyzing EPT in all matches across multiple leagues and other competitions in say the last 15 years and appoint a sideline-referee has to be appointed to manage the game clock (like in NBA basketball). Et violá! No more annoying and unsporting behaviour in our beautiful game related to time waisting!

    As for other annoying behaviours like flopping, theatrics to influence the referee to give the opponent a card, asking the referee to give the opponent a card and excessive (and aggressively) complaining to a referee: zero-tolerance = yellow card. At first, it would generate quite a lot of red cards (due to double yellow's) and lead to a bit of chaos and uproar, but within a few months, our sport would be cured of all that cancerous behaviour.

  16. I really don't like EPT. I don't think players waste that much time though. Time taken to make a corner kick or throw in doesn't count as wasted time to me.

  17. Excellent video. yes, the "powers that be" have to get off their behinds and make changes (beyond simply straining themselves to monitor more accurate added time!) to address the time-wasting issue.
    Also, they are going to have to eventually seriously address getting more scoring into the game somehow.

  18. Watching some games in Brazil is really tough,because this kind of behaviour takes much of the playing time.

  19. Man United's attack attack attack philosophy died when LVG came to the club. Mourinho just perpetuated it, and actually built a team that looks capable of attacking.

  20. well imporving this would definately make the gap even wider between small clubs vs big clubs becuase small club usually win games using these tactics of wasting time. for me the most frustrating thing has always been players going down with cramps to burn time. i think the player who has cramps should be carried off immediately no questions asked .

  21. I thought the exit the nearest part of the field was already a thing. They do it in high school and academies. This should have been added to professional football a long time ago.

  22. Pausing the match clock whenever play is stopped is the most logical solution. Almost every other sport on the planet does it. The only problem with it is commercial greed as advertisement will start infesting our beloved sport.

  23. Well then is passing around the back still considered time wasting or is it more strategic? What about corner flag antics when you’re just holding the ball in the same spot from defenders?

  24. what about time wasting of added time. This time is not coming back. Why not fake injuries for three minutes..? I'm not from a place where football is wildly popular but I did enjoy watching international events for some time. But no more, i'm sick of faking and time-wasting. Buy a damn clock and pay someone to hit play and pause

  25. 2:17 For anyone who doesn't know, that's Rui Patrício, Portugal's goalkeeper and Vladimir Putin. Didn't know he was a referee.

  26. Easy mode:
    You have 5 seconds from when the ref blows the whistle to continue play to act your action(goal kick, corner, foul etc)
    If you go over the 5 seconds, you get a yellow card and the team and player are fined xxx amount of money, per offence.

    As for injuries: They have 10-15 seconds to get up and continue play, if they can't then players will be dragged(assissted) off the pitch immediately by medical staff or their own team mates(no faffing about, you get off ASAP) and can be attended to at the side of the pitch.
    If they are cleared and allowed back on, after a minimum time of 2-5 minutes of being checked on, they must wait until a stoppage in the game(goal kick, corner etc) and the ref signals to let them return.
    If no injury is found, they return before the ref allows, or they waste time getting off the pitch(ref's discretion), then they are given a yellow card and the team and player are fined xxx amount of money, per offence.

    ANY arguing(note arguing, not discussion, ref's discretion which is which) with the ref will be met with a yellow and a removal from the game, of that player, for 5-15 minutes(ref's discretion).
    Continued arguing with the ref, after a punishment has already been given to your team, may result in fines and or bans of players for x amount of games.
    It's about time refs were given some respect like in Rugby. If bulky 6ft+ men that could tear your head off can respect a small man telling them what to do without punching him in the face, then some pussy twats who worry more about their hair than they do the game, can do the same.

    If players, and teams, are going to encourage fucking about, time wasting and faking injuries to get penalties/free kicks etc, then the FA/FIFA need to grow a pair and start kicking some ass.

  27. dude its a game! a live performance from managers, players, fans… best sports entertainment in my opinion. Iol I start breathing after the last whistle is blown. enjoy the suspense within time

  28. I'm so for this. This shit kills the game. And from what I can tell, would help to entice more Americans to watch the sport we love.

  29. Are you joking? I mean okay wasting time can be exaggerated and such but as if a football match wasn't exhausting enough and now you want us to play for even longer? Thanks but no thanks

  30. Does anyone watch the NFL here? Would you prefer the current system or that? In the NFL, while the clock is extremely strict, ensuring the audience would enjoy a fixed amount of action per game, it is also marred with running down the clock, changing side and their infamous review system, the origin of VAR which breaks up the game multiple time and a commercial heaven. I think just letting the VAR staffs who collect the non playing time during the match to advice the referees would be sufficient. It's not as if decisions can be absolutely objective.

  31. How about if a team wastes more than X amount of time during a match, every player in that team starts with a yellow card for their next game?

    Or if you're caught purposefully wasting time, the other team gets a penalty shot.

  32. effective playing-time is NOT a radical change. Literally every other sport does it. They could also implement a system where it is effective playing time for let's say the last 10 minutes

  33. 15 minutes of Neymar rolling? Oh god Brazil's "best player" is wonderful

    He only is the best 'cause he plays on the easiest league

  34. give 1 game detention for diving because of unsportsmanship. detention can be applied through video evidence after games by an official board. the sport has too many divas nowadays.

  35. I propose 60 minutes per half. Even with wasting time it's more time to recover even a 2 goal deficit. Big clubs won't win as many games as per 45 half.

  36. I don't know why a simple solution such as actually stopping the clock when the ball is not in play , is not taken into consideration , Handball , Basketball and other sports use it and it's so effective , especially with the addition of VAR , some matches became really unwatchable and i don't think that there's any better option than stopping the clock and getting rid of extra-time since leading teams waste it anyway.

  37. We all know the answer. Stop watches. Stop the fucking time until the ball is in play. This isn't rocket science…

  38. I agree too much time wasting. Players taking too long to take a throw in drying the ball etc, there should be a 5 second rule to take the throw if longer the throw should be reversed as in a foul throw. The idea of stopping the clock when the ball is out of play is a god one and works vey well in Australian rules football with the clock being controlled off field by two timekeepers. Substitutions give me the shits, too many. Substitutions could be made while the ball is still in play and would encourage the departing player to exit quickly and not drag his feet. Time wasting is spoiling the game. Get a grip FIFA!

  39. I don't understand why goal keepers can receive a yellow for wasting time but NEVER a 2nd yellow. It's clearly meant to be unsportsmanlike conduct so why not treat it as such?

  40. Well they must be concentrate on what measures they make, not to harsh. So for example that the referee doesn't get angry that a celabration gets to long. A monumental stoppage time-goal must alouda whole minute.

  41. I have been thinking about this for a few years. I think there should be a "play clock" for each throw in and goal kick. If the player does not put the ball in play before the time runs out, he gets a yellow. I had not thought about having the player play the ball to himself, but that would be an option if they have nobody near them. I had thought about having the subbed player walk out the nearest line, but ALSO have a timer for this. If they are not off in, say, 10 seconds, they get carded. I think those were the two I came up with. I had not thought much about foul situations. I guess that if there is no foul or anything, the ref can see it in the VAR and yellow card the player for wasting time.

  42. Lighter rule changes will eventually fade away. Stopping the clock is the only way to help this. This way the fake injuries, substituions and delayed
    restarts – the biggest problems in time wasting – will not affect the effective playing time, even if they continue to break the match pace.

    Regarding fake injuries, one of football's current embarassments IMO, this would clearly remove incentive from the players who cheat by doing this.

  43. Officials simply need to be strict. A couple weeks where if you waste time, you're booked, they'll stop doing it. Even if they send loads of people off, after a couple weeks they'll catch on.

  44. forget about the time wasting, I just want that with the VAR now in use in many leagues, players who fake an injury or a hit, for example when the teams are arguing and you just know somebody is gonna pretend they got hit in the face and fall down in excrutiating pain, well the VAR can tell the ref "that bitch is faking, give him a yellow card", easy, just like that, oh what? your gonna argue that you werent pretending you got hit? Ive got video of it, and now for arguing, you can fuck off of the field, second yellow card, get the fuck out of here. if theyre promoting fair play, the first thing they should do is condition the players behavior to eliminate once and for all, all this bitchery going on every damn match.

  45. I'd like EPT if it mean't two halves of 45 mins but if they cut it down to 30 mins I feels that just means less footy for us to watch. Whatever the solution is, games should stay with 45 min halves imo.

  46. get a more refined way to calculate how many minutes must of been added. Don't execrate with it, but why not giving 9 minutes of extra time? This makes the game much more intens I guess and in my opinion it won t affect the game nearly as hard as stopping the clock.

  47. When Neymar was overreacting because of a fake injury, and was rolling around like a maniac, I started screaming, I mean Neymar is a pretty good actor I suppose, but I really wanted Mexico to win!

  48. This is nothing. Try watching a Boston Red Sox and Yankees playoff baseball game. Those two teams take 4 hours to complete a game sometimes.

  49. Rugby league stops the clock regularly and is still trying to increase the speed of the game. The ball is in play on average more than any other sport (union, footy, NFL etc) by quite some distance. Football just makes mountains out of mole hills. Do something about it.

  50. Video's subject matter made even more relevant with the advent of VAR, where officials themselves seem oblivious of the duration for which they stop the action to consult. A fresh case in point is the recent AFCoN final…

  51. I really have thought for a long time (no pun intended) that they SHOULD stop the clock when substitutes happen and when there are injuries

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