youAway increases with the World Cup in Qatar, even with added time. To everyone’s surprise, the panels that the fourth official brandished at the end of each half have shown, since the tournament opened on November 20, very unusual figures that happily extend the duration of the matches beyond one hundred minutes.

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The committee of referees of the International Football Federation (FIFA), chaired by the Italian Pierluigi Collina, usually makes its decisions without submitting them to public debate, to later judge them formidable. During the 2018 edition, the adoption of video-assisted refereeing (VAR) was done in a hurry. However, the intention of the new instructions is laudable: the calculation of additional time does not compensate for the time lost during the match and gives few guarantees of objectivity. In 2018, a study on the World Cup in Russia showed that it was random and insufficient.

The conquest of fluency

The time-outs were mainly due -for almost twenty-five minutes- to the execution of fouls, throw-ins and clearances by the goalkeeper. FIFA’s goal is less to reduce them than to strictly count them to add them at the end of the period, in order to increase effective playing time. From just under an hour on average, it can go down to around forty minutes. In Qatar, its increase is noticeable, deliberately wasting time is deterred. However, we don’t know which phases are counted, time is still off and the reference points are messed up: a mini extra time opens at the end of regulation time.

Temporality has always been a central issue for the laws of the game. After a 1990 World Cup marked by brutality, acts of anti-play and cut matches, the authorities wanted to restore the rhythm and continuity of the matches. A series of reforms achieved this during that decade: restriction of the pass back to the goalkeeper, available balls around the field of play, throwing the ball by the goalkeeper in a maximum of six seconds, more severe sanctions for acts of anti-play, etc. .

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Recently, two big changes have gone against these advances by adding interruptions and compromising that recovered fluidity: the VAR (2018) and the two additional replacements (2020). However, the additional time did not follow in proportion. With this systematic count, FIFA seems to be preparing a small revolution: a truly effective game time, in the style of American sport, with the clock stopping at every half-time and the end of the game sounding at ninety minutes.

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