• Our Opinion

How to prevent time wasting in football?

How to prevent time wasting in football?
Getty Images

Should time wasting be punished more severely and what kind of rule changes can be introduced to prevent it?

I don’t think there’s anything connected to the game of football that annoys me more than time wasting. It is anti-football, it is anti-sportsmanship and it is a disgrace. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about it, since time wasting is within the rules of the game. Or, maybe I’m wrong?

I don’t know if you remember the semi-final rematch between Inter and Barcelona the year when Inter won the Champions League title, but I most certainly do. After winning the first leg in Italy 3-1, Mourinho did everything he could to kill the second leg. His players were confined in the 30 meters in front of goal for most of the match. It took the goalkeeper almost a minute every time he was supposed to kick the ball off. Outs, corners, lying on the ground “injured”, he used every tactic possible to prevent Barcelona from creating momentum. And it worked. Inter progressed and he receive praise from around the world for finding a way to stop the best team in history. I never understood that, though.

What was he praised for? For destroying what was supposed to be a fun contest between two talented squads? For the complete ignorance and disregard towards the fans who came to watch football, but saw none? I mean, good for him and for the people who agree with him. Sorry, but I’m not one of them. I like to see football, I like to see attraction and competition. May the best one win, right? Instead of fighting Barcelona, or any other attacking-minded team with defensive tactics, improve, so you can fight it by beating it at its own game. It’s not that difficult, but it does take a lot of time, dedication and practice, much more than aligning a moving wall in front of goal.

So, what can be done to prevent time wasting? Well first, UEFA and FIFA can start punishing it more severely. Yes, I do realize time wasting is arbitrary, but most of the time, it’s obvious. There should be a definite time limit for goalkeepers to kick the ball off. Referees shouldn’t be so hesitant towards showing yellow and even red cards for time wasting. If a player goes to the ground injured, a neutral medical team should be on the pitch within seconds, carry the injured player to the sidelines, and the game should continue while he’s been treated there. That way, the players won’t have a reason to fake injuries, at least not as often, as they’d be hurting their own team. Then, if a referee feels a team was wasting time, he should be allowed the freedom to increase the amount of added time at the end of a game.

All of the above is a start. Limiting the number of passes behind the midfield line is another way to go about it, forcing teams to attack instead of permitting defenders to toss the ball around between themselves seemingly forever. The NBA has something called an 8-second rule which states that after the attacking team gains possession of the ball in their own half, they have eight seconds to move the ball into the opposition’s half. A similar rule could be applied to football. It doesn’t matter whether it’s amount of time or number of passes, as long as it forces a team to either play or give up the ball to the opponent.

These are some of the ways that came to my mind regarding the prevention of time wasting, speeding up the game and forcing teams to attack instead of defend, something that I’m sure most of us fans would love to see.