The World Cup in Qatar is already extraordinary in every respect. The discussion about human and minority rights in the host country. The exploitation of migrant workers in stadium construction. Crazy time in winter. Most recently, the Fifa ban on the "One Love Bandage"...
Actually, the focus should be on sport at the latest with the opening game. But even there, the controversial World Cup is setting new standards. A special feature of the tournament in the desert is already evident on the second day of play: the games all last an exceptionally long time. Added times of eight or nine minutes per half are not uncommon, but apparently the new rule.
This was particularly evident in England's opening game against Iran. An incredible 24 minutes of stoppage time were played in the English team's 6-2 victory. Ten in the first half, 14 in the second half. With the effect that Iran's last goal by Mehdi Taremi (90 13) became the latest goal in a World Cup in regular time measured since detailed data was recorded in 1966. At least that's how the data service provider Opta calculated it on Twitter.
As soon as the game was over, there was also a late goal in the following game between the Netherlands and Senegal. The decision to make it 2-0 by Dutchman Davy Klasen (90 9) was only made in the unusually late 99th minute of the game.
Fifa chief referee Pierluigi Collina had already pointed out before the tournament that the world football association in Qatar wants to pay attention to the effective playing time in the pairings. "We will calculate injury time very carefully and try to make up for the time lost to incidents," said Collina. "We don't want there to be only 42 or 43 minutes of active play in a half, that's not acceptable. The time lost through goal celebrations, substitutions, injuries or sending-offs should definitely be made up for. "Seven, Eight, nine minutes of stoppage time" are to be expected in a normal World Cup game in Qatar.
In the game between England and Iran, this rough measure was even surpassed in both halves - albeit also because of the very eventful game. In addition to the eight goals, there was a longer treatment break for the injured Iranian national goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand and a decision based on video evidence, in which referee Raphael Claus watched a scene again himself.
In general, the effective playing time in football is significantly shorter than the promised 45 minutes per half. Even the 43 minutes of active play targeted by Colina are pure fantasy. In June, the Spanish sports newspaper Marca analyzed games from Europe's top leagues (France, England, Germany, Spain, Italy) and came to the conclusion that the ball actually rolls for a maximum of 52 minutes per game. Collina now wants to have around 60 minutes of net playing time at the World Cup. At the last World Cup it was 57 minutes.
However, the truth about football's comparatively short effective playing time also means that teams are now extremely adept at salvaging a lead over time. Balls are passed on three times when thrown in, here the jersey is plucked to pull a tactical foul, and there a last substitution is made to – as the saying goes – “turn the clock again”. And anyone who has watched a leading team's goalkeeper's almost scientific, minute-long preparation before an injury-time goal kick knows how nerve-wracking such nitpicking can be
In this respect, Fifa's efforts to extend the season are to be welcomed. More time also means more time to score goals. So it's quite possible that Iran's Mehdi Taremi's historic goal in the 103rd minute of regulation time at the tournament in Qatar will not retain its record for long.