UEFA Vows to Avoid Excessive Added Time in Champions League Matches Amid Player Welfare Concerns

UEFAs Chief of Football, Zvonimir Boban, has assured fans that this seasons Champions League matches will not be plagued by excessive amounts of added time, acknowledging the physical toll it places on players and describing it as a “tragedy.

In the 202324 season, the duration of additional time at the end of each half has noticeably increased in some domestic leagues. The Premier League, among others, has adopted an International Football Association Board (IFAB) directive aimed at curbing timewasting. This change has led to match durations regularly exceeding 100 minutes, which has drawn criticism from players. Prominent figures like Kevin De Bruyne have cautioned that players are essentially being asked to play additional games due to extended match durations.

Boban, taking note of these concerns, made it clear that European competitions will not adopt significantly lengthened match durations. However, he did not propose imposing a specific time limit. He expressed his own skepticism, stating, “I can say that it’s absolutely absurd myself.”

In the context of player well-being, Boban termed the situation a “small tragedy or big tragedy” since almost 12 to 14 minutes are being added, which constitute nearly half a challenging game. He emphasized that these extra minutes are played when players are already fatigued in the latter stages of the game. The additional time, often spanning 15 to 12 minutes, raises questions about its necessity.

Boban pointed out the lack of consideration for players and coaches in this decision-making process. He referenced England’s situation, where the packed schedule is well-known, and the recent addition of around six to seven more minutes per game essentially translates to an additional 500 minutes over a season – equivalent to six more games.

Assuring a different approach in European competitions, Boban affirmed, “It’s crazy. It’s too much so we will not do this. We will follow our guidelines.”

Roberto Rosetti, UEFA’s Head of Referees, emphasized that in the previous Champions League season, there was more “effective playing time,” with the ball in play more than in any of the major domestic leagues across the continent. The Champions League averaged 60.07 minutes of ball-in-play time, whereas the Premier League lagged behind at 54.46 minutes.

Rosetti outlined UEFA’s focus on intensifying the rhythm of play, rather than prolonging stoppage time, highlighting the reasons why fans are drawn to the Champions League – its intensity and non-stop action. He explained, “We tell our referees to speed up the restart of play instead of this [focus] on stoppage time.”

In conclusion, UEFA is intent on maintaining the essence of intense and fast-paced football in its competitions, recognizing the need to prioritize players’ physical well-being and aligning with the sentiment that excessive added time burdens players and the overall game experience.