Russia: FIFA mulls shortening football matches to 60 minutes

Moscow, Russia (PANA) - A FIFA-supported Rules Organization has invited arguments following its willingness to consider shortening soccer matches from 90 minutes to 60 minutes and stopping the clock when the ball is not in play.

Playing two halves each of 30 minutes' actual playing time would be a "radical change" to the Laws of Football, the FIFA-supported International Football Association Board (IFAB) was quoted as saying by the FIFA media channel.

The proposal is part of a five-year strategy document on "Talking points and proposals" with three main targets - to increase respect, playing time and attractiveness of the game.

"The aim of this document is to generate discussion and take a 'fresh' look at how the Laws could make the game better," IFAB said in the document, called "Play Fair!"

Any changes would take years to enact after discussions and trials overseen by IFAB, which revises soccer's laws annually and comprises officials from FIFA and the four British soccer federations.

Fans have become frustrated that games of 90 regulation minutes plus time added for stoppages at referees' discretion typically produce "fewer than 60 minutes of effective and actual playing time", IFAB said.

On Saturday at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup opener, there were just 47 minutes of actual playing time in Russia's 2-0 win over New Zealand, according to FIFA.

The game in St. Petersburg took less than 1 hour, 50 minutes from the opening whistle to the last, which suggests that a 60-minute, stop-start clock would take more than two hours to complete.

The 60-minute, stop-start game clock proposal would take away the incentive for time-wasting by players, IFAB suggested, saying that a stadium clock could show spectators and TV viewers when the referee accounted for play having stopped.

A second idea is for referees to stop their watch as play pauses when time-wasting is most likely — the final five minutes of the first half and the last 10 minutes of the second half.

Other talking points in "Fair Play!" to make games faster and fairer include:

— Letting players pass to themselves from a free kick or corner

— Award penalty kicks for defenders using their hands or arms to stop a goal-bound ball

— Abolish encroachment at penalty kicks by ordering play to stop after it is saved or rebounds from the post or bar

and — Pre-match handshakes in technical area for the two coaches and referee "as a sign of respect.

FIFA showed its determination to increase playing time and fairness by reminding Confederations Cup referees to enforce existing rules on time wasting. Referees in Russia also must monitor stoppages — including goal celebrations — more strictly by adding more additional time.

Marco van Basten, the former Netherlands and AC Milan great now leading FIFA's technical department, said on Thursday that referees typically add only one minute to the first half and three minutes to the second half.

Still, those were exactly the amounts of stoppage time added to the Russia-New Zealand game by Referee Wilmar Roldan of Colombia.

FIFA has already signaled openness to radical changes by Van Basten's suggestion this year that the offside rule could be abolished.

That idea was mostly met with confusion and derision, and Van Basten declined to discuss it when asked at a briefing in St. Petersburg on the eve of the Confederations Cup.

"What is going to be in the future, that's not the point at the moment," he said.
-0- PANA VAO/MA 19June2017

19 june 2017 07:00:23

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