Why is there so much stoppage time at the Qatar World Cup?

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: A giant screen displays additional time of 14 minutes as Alireza Beiranvand of IR Iran received medical treatment during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
A giant screen displays additional time of 14 minutes during the England and Iran match at Khalifa International Stadium on Doha on Monday. (Getty Images)

The world’s best football players competing over a period of 90 minutes is set to become a thing of the past if the opening two days at the Qatar World Cup is anything to go by.

In the first four games in Doha, matches have run past 100 minutes, totalling an hour of additional time already.

The noticeable stoppage time has cropped up after World Cup referees were told to record time-wasting and delays more accurately than ever before.

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The four 45-minute halves of World Cup matches with the most stoppage time – since records began in 1966 – all occurred on Monday, with England's 6-2 victory over Iran seeing 10+ minutes added on to both halves.

The first half had 14 minutes and eight seconds of added time – although much of this was caused by a head injury to Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, who was treated twice by medics before being substituted.

Meanwhile, the second halves of the USA's match against Wales and the Netherlands against Senegal clash both had more than 10 minutes of additional time.

On Tuesday, there were 18 additional minutes overall as Saudi Arabia caused an almighty upset to end Argentina's three-year unbeaten run.

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: Referee Ma Ning of China in action during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Liu Lu/VCG via Getty Images)
Referee Ma Ning of China signals stoppage time between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. (Getty Images)

Before the tournament began, Pierluigi Collina, Fifa’s referees chief, admitted that matches could hit the 100-minute mark throughout football's showpiece in Doha.

Collina told ESPN: "We told everybody to not 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.

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"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 [2018] and we expect the same in Qatar.

"I am not talking about VAR intervention, this is something which is different and calculated by the Video Assistant Referee in a very precise way."

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: Davy Klaassen of Netherlands celebrates after scoring their team's second goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Senegal and Netherlands at Al Thumama Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Davy Klaassen scored in the 99th minute for the Netherlands in their opening win over Senegal. (Getty Images)

This year's tournament is employing semi-automated offside technology for the first time. Collina said the technology would help speed up offside decisions.

The Fifa edict also means that teams holding slender leads deep into normal time matches, may have to do so for longer.

And nothing will be certain for those teams given that we have already seen late goals under Fifa's initiative – the Dutch scoring in the 99th minute to complete a 2-0 win, while Mehdi Taremi scored his penalty in the 103rd minute against England.

The running theme of additional time reared its head again when there were 18 extra minutes across the two halves as Saudi Arabia ended Argentina's 36-match unbeaten run with a 2-1 victory, in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

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