(CNN) — Previously, there have been rumors that soccer matches should be shortened from their traditional 90-minute duration to appeal to a younger generation used to digesting content quickly.
However, at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the public is experiencing matches that have become much longer.
We have seen assistant referees hold up their electronic whiteboards at the end of time in Qatar matches, signaling much longer than the usual four or five minutes.
Seven or eight minutes seems to be the minimum. On some occasions more than 10 minutes have already been added.
The result is that only one of the first eight matches of the tournament has ended in less than 100 minutes.
In fact, according to statistics website Opta, the five individual halves with the most stoppage time in a single World Cup match since records began in 1966 all happened on Monday and Tuesday in the 2022 World Cup.
England’s 6-2 win over Iran took 117 minutes and 16 seconds, with 14 minutes and eight seconds added at the end of the first half and 13 minutes and eight seconds at the end of the second.
As a result, Mehdi Taremi’s penalty, with 102 minutes and 30 seconds left, was the latest taken by any team at a World Cup since 1966.
14 minutes and 34 seconds were added to the 1-1 draw between Wales and the United States, 12 minutes and 49 seconds to the Netherlands’ 2-0 victory over Senegal and 10 minutes and 18 seconds to the victory of Ecuador 2-0 over host Qatar in the opening game of the tournament.
Part of the added time was due to long injury interruptions.
Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand suffered a severe head injury in his team’s match against England, while Saudi defender Yasser al-Shahrani was injured when his own goalkeeper, Mohammed al-Owais, kneed against Argentina.
However, the extended matches are part of an initiative by FIFA, the sport’s governing body, to fight the perception of wasted time and reclaim lost time for goal celebrations, the video assistant referee reviews ( VAR) and substitutions.
Pierluigi Collina, the famed former referee and current chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, explained before the start of the tournament that fans should expect matches of more than 100 minutes, with added time of more than “seven or eight minutes”.
“This is nothing new,” Collina said at a news conference. “(In the last World Cup) in Russia, it became quite normal for the assistant referee to show the scoreboard with seven, eight, nine minutes.
“We advise our referees to be very precise in calculating the time to be added at the end of each half to make up for time lost due to a specific type of incident.”
“What we want to avoid is having a game with 42, 43, 44, 45 minutes of active play. This is not acceptable.”
“Whenever there is an incident, such as an injury, a substitution, a penalty, a red card or the celebration of a goal, I want to underline it because it is a moment of joy for one team, perhaps not for the other, it can last a minute or a minute and a half.”
“So imagine at one point two or three goals are scored and it’s easy to lose five or six minutes and this team has to be compensated at the end.”
However, these longer matches have provoked an ambivalent response from former players and soccer experts.
Former England and Liverpool midfielder Jamie Carragher said on Twitter: “Enjoying the amount of time the referees are adding in the World Cup in Qatar 2022. There is too much time wasted in football.”
But South American soccer expert Tim Vickery said which was “to add extra rounds to the end of a boxing match”.
“I am not in favor of these gigantic downtimes,” Vickery wrote on Twitter. “Grinding players on the ground. 4 would have been fine. 9? Not for me.”
And he added: “The players already cover much more ground than before. Compensating for the blatant loss of time, okay. But this is all too much.”
Physical therapist Matt Konopinski also warned that the increased amount of extra time, in addition to “a sharp demand in terms of matches and match density”, could lead to more player injuries.
“This will contribute to fatigue, both mental and physical,” said Konopinski, co-founder of Rehab4Performanceto CNN Sports.
“We know there is a higher risk of injury towards the end of matches, so if we increase the time players are required to play, it follows that there could be an increased risk of injury.”
“From a mental point of view, it’s physiologically difficult for teams to close a game if they add 10 more minutes to the end.”
“It’s also more difficult for teams looking to integrate players who can return after injury. For example, a 20-minute cameo can become a 30-plus minute cameo.”
Konopinski also highlighted the tight soccer schedule. He said the 32 World Cup teams and their staff members will have to work “harder” to improve player recovery between matches.
“This will include interventions such as nutritional strategies, hydration strategies, therapeutic and technological advances in terms of recovery management. Some examples would be soft tissue massage, swimming pools and ice chambers.”
Injury concerns aside, prepare for plenty more World Cup minutes until the tournament concludes on December 18.