In professional tournament soccer, there are two periods of 45 minutes each, plus a little extra for any stoppages. FIFA decided to create its own version of a clock with the World Cup, but the reason shows that the soccer organization is happy to make up the rules as it goes along.
The US and Wales drew 1-1 for the first date of Group B of the contest yesterday. Timothy Weah opened the scoring early for the Americans, while Gareth Bale evened things up in the second off an unnecessary penalty shot.
The US Men’s National Team (USMNT) had a couple of opportunities to once again capture the lead, thanks to FIFA. Instead of 90-minute games, it is telling referees to add up to 10 minutes, and the US-Wales game was no exception.
Stars And Stripes Start Strong
The US team came out strong, deploying their attacking forwards with speed. However, the team often seemed hesitant to take any shots.
Then, Weah received a nice pass into the void and, with the tip of the cleat, put the USMNT up 1-0. It was the first time since the US met Belgium in the 2014 World Cup that it scored a goal.
The US team, favorites to win, kept control and put pressure on Wales to respond. The Dragons had chances to tie the game, but US goalkeeper Matt Turner kept every attempt out of the net. That ended at minute 82, though, when the referee called a penalty and Bale turned it into a goal.
As the clock continued to wind down, before another nine minutes suddenly appeared in extra time, the two tried to deliver a fatal blow. They tried, but failed. Wales finished with three shots on target, while the US had just one, despite finishing with more ball possession at 58.7%.
Next up, the USMNT faces England this Friday, while Wales will face Iran that same day. The Three Lions left no doubt about their intentions in their opener against Iran, controlling the ball 80% of the time. That led to an indisputable 6-2 win, and a taste of what’s coming for both the US and Wales on Friday.
FIFA Changes The Rules (Again)
FIFA told athletes that they couldn’t wear anything that displays “political, religious, or personal messages or slogans” on their uniforms because they’re against the rules. The rules also say that each period of the game will be 45 minutes, but FIFA decided it doesn’t need to enforce rules that counter its agenda.
FIFA, which just signed Betano an official gambling sponsor, has told referees to add more time to the clocks at the end of the periods because it wants to increase the entertainment value of the games. That didn’t prove effective at the Qatar-Ecuador game, as almost all the fans left before the game ended.
The BBC reported that the first four games in the World Cup resulted in 65 extra minutes. The most spectacular was England vs. Iran (6-2), which lasted more than 117 minutes. 14 of these were added to the end of the first half, although part of that was due to injury.
Extra time for injury is one thing; extra time that causes injury is something else. At the end of the USA-Wales match, Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim announced an additional nine minutes.
During this time, several players fell to the ground and were treated for cramps. That only prompted the referee to add even more time.
England coach Gareth Southgate isn’t excited about the changes. Soccer players practice and play all year based on a 90-minute clock. While they all expect a few extra minutes, adding even more because FIFA wants to squeeze more out of the games puts the players’ health in jeopardy.
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