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Football Basics: Stoppage & Extra Time

Stoppage & Extra Time

The last few minutes of a football match can be the most daunting for supporters. Be it your team is down by a goal or on the verge of winning a trophy, the dying minutes of a football game almost provide for edge-of-the-seat action. Part of this may be down to the thrilling match-up on the pitch but mostly depends on the added amount of stoppage time and probability of extra time during the game.

A regulation prescribed to utilise the entire 90 minutes on the pitch, stoppage time is the added amount of time owing to injuries, substitutions, and other major incidents causing a significant stoppage in play. On the other hand, extra-time refers to the additional 30 minutes played following the full-ninety as a result of an equal score-line during normal time.

In this article, we explain the concepts of stoppage and extra-time, their distinctiveness, and how they are accounted for and applied during a game of football.

Stoppage Time

Football Basics: Stoppage & Extra Time
The phrase ‘Fergie Time‘ is eponymous to former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, owing to his team allegedly receiving an extra amount of added time to clinch a late goal.

Occasionally referred to as added time or injury time, the regulation comprises of a referee adding additional minutes at the end of each half of the game. Stoppage time is a direct result of making up lost time during the game owing to injuries, substitutions, and scuffles between teams on the pitch, among other reasons. The time added varies depending on the stoppages on the pitch.

Primary reasons for time added include injuries and assessments, substitutions, VAR checks, drinks break, time-wasting, and medical stoppages, among others. Streakers and goal-celebrations are not accounted as stoppages by the fourth official, who is responsible for displaying the minimum amount of added time. The time added is always minimum considering potential stoppages in play during added time, by which the match referee decides to let the minutes roll by to make up for lost time during the added minutes.

Further, the calculation of stoppage time is not always accurate neither is it perfect. Added time is a flexible variable that solely depends upon refereeing decisions and the main official’s interpretation of ‘time wastage’ by players on the pitch. This offers room for players to waste time during goal kicks, set-pieces, and fake injuries, resulting in a frustrating few minutes, primarily for the losing side and their supporters.

Nevertheless, subject to the score-line, the concept of stoppage time adds to the drama of watching a football game with both players and supporters giving it their all in an attempt to see their team all the way to the finish line.

Extra Time

Football Basics: Stoppage & Extra Time
Andres Iniesta scored Spain’s 2010 World Cup-winning goal four minutes before the end of extra time.

Sometimes confused with stoppage time, extra time is not related to stoppages on the pitch. The regulation is only brought into play when a game, usually in a knockout phase or cup competitions, ends in an equal score-line at the end of normal time. 30 minutes, divided into two halves of 15 minutes with a five-minute half-time break comprise of extra time. The extra minutes too, are subject to the regulations of normal time and stoppage time.

Historically, the concept of golden goal – first team to score – in extra time preceded a penalty shoot-out if no team succeeded in scoring the winning goal during extra time. However, nowadays, both teams are offered the fair chance of scoring during extra time, with an equal score-line at the end of extra time warranting a penalty shoot-out.

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