Change football (soccer) to 60 minutes with a stop clock
Change football (soccer) to 60 minutes with a stop clock
¿Por qué es importante esta petición?
I love soccer. It is a beautiful sport, and in general, very entertaining to watch, with one big exception: players or coaches abusing and trying to waste time when its to their advantage, against Fair Play and to the frustration of all fans out there. Fouls where the player, seemingly terribly injured, needs to be pulled off the field only to spring up immediately as soon as the stretcher touches the ground; stoppage time substitutions in a clear attempt to waste time; more recently, VAR reviews where the time added is always less than the time taken for a review; and other, multiple, sneaky but evident ways in which players waste time to end the match with the prevailing score, while the other team frantically pressures the referee to stop time, to add it later, or to help players hustle.
I know, as a fan, I do not stand alone in this plea to end the ridiculous attempts by players and coaches to reduce Effective Play Time (EPT), which detracts from the entertainment and blemishes the Beautiful Game. The good news is that all of this is very simple to fix: add a stop clock to games. Every time the ball goes our of play, or the referee blows the whistle, the play clock would stop, nullifying any attempt to unfairly waste time.
You might be surprised that, according to data from the Football Observatory, out of the current 90 minutes of official playing time, the EPT (eliminating the scenarios where the ball is not in play) in European leagues is as low as 50.9% (Portuguese League) and up to 60.4% (Swedish League), with notable leagues like the Premier League at 56.5% and the Spanish League at just 55.8%. We have the opportunity to make this fairer and standard, by establishing two 30 minute halves (60 minutes) with a stop clock. Although this petition would reduce the official time, the EPT would invariably increase. For example, the EPT for the Premier League would increase 15.2% if the change is implemented. That means more playing time for soccer fans and Fair Play for everybody. In fact, I believe that the halves should be more in the range of 28 minutes, but I understand FIFA and the IFAB (International Football Association Board) have already studied the 30 minute halves and this would increase the odds of this change occurring.
Of course, I am not naïve about how this could affect monetary interests. But I actually believe this change has the potential to increase income for all parts involved. Some countries have to interrupt the game's flow by showing ads in the middle of the game, which is terribly frustrating. By having a stop clock when someone is injured, ads can be shown freely reducing the frustration of fans missing out on important details of the game. Since the clock is stopped, even longer ads can be shown as long as the pitch has a comptroller for TV (as occurs in the NBA or the NFL in the United States). I understand nobody is a fan of ads, but this petition must include this transparency to have a shot of moving forward, since we all know ads are important for the stakeholders involved.
More importantly, the stop clock would make the game more exciting and bring in even more fans, increasing potential revenue for the game. Increasing soccer fans from the United States, for example, would undoubtedly bring in much more sponsorship money from US brands. With the run-up to the World Cup in the US (co-hosted by Canada and Mexico), this change needs to be implemented now to make sure US soccer fans are onboard, and can more easily connect the game to other sports they might be more familiar with that use the stop clock (NBA, NFL, NHL, etc.).
Like I said, this change in the game has actually been put forward before by FIFA and IFAB, but this petition can strengthen their commitment to implement the change by giving them the opportunity, if many people sign, to acknowledge what the fans want.
This simple change can bring about fairness and more excitement back to the game. Such a simple change (which most leagues already have the technology to implement immediately, by the way), would have the following effects:
- Completely eliminate arbitrary clock decisions
- Eliminate the need of players to fake fouls to waste time
- Eliminate the need for coaches to perform stoppage time substitutions just to skim clock at the potentially most exhilarating part of the game.
- Eliminate the referee's arbitrary decision to stop a last attack at the end of stoppage time (the game would come to a standstill at the end of the stop clock no matter where the ball is, even if its a milisecond away from crossing the line for a goal).
- Eliminate frustration of ad running while the ball is in play (there would be plenty of opportunities to show ads when the clock is stopped).
- Eliminate yellow cards for players deliberately taking more time to take a free kick or goal kick.
- Eliminate fans' frustration when the referee decides to add too little (for the losing team) or too much (for the winning team) of stoppage time--frustration all around.
- Reset the trend of losing EPT as the new rules are enforced, such as the Video Assistant Referee (EPT in the Premier League was reduced almost 1% the year VAR was introduced).
- Boost fair play considerably.
Yes, this would be a big change, but the game must evolve to make it better (as it has, with most rule decisions made so far). A fundamental change like this needs to take place. Much as the NBA was saved by introducing the innovative shot clock in 1954, soccer must be saved from the pestilence of time wastage today.