Time Analysis

Time Analysis
When the German Bundesliga introduced the responsibilities of the video assistant referee, who will be an assistant to the referee in every match in the next Bundesliga season (2017/18), I was quite surprised about an aspect of the game that will still be decided by the referee on the pitch. To clarify the responsibilities of the video assistant referee at first: He confirms, if a goal was correctly achieved, if a player should receive a red card, if a foul in the penalty area occurred and he intervenes, if the referee has mistaken a player for another player. However, he does not support the referee on the pitch in finding the right amount of stoppage time.

Is the amount of stoppage time given justified?
From the experience of watching many football matches, it seems as if most matches receive 3 minutes of stoppage time, whereas very few games have more than 4 minutes of stoppage time. However, if the referee thinks a game is already over because a team is leading by more than two goals, he will probably blow the whistle at the 90-minutes-mark without giving any stoppage time. Certainly, each of Europe’s top leagues deals with the amount of stoppage time differently. To this reason, we cannot tell, if the stoppage time given is justified and comprehensible or if there is a huge discrepancy between the effective playing time and the stoppage time given. That is why I decided to conduct a time analysis for selected football matches, where I will list the interruptions caused by each team and the referee and calculate the effective playing time. For that matter, I identified the following types of interruptions which all exclude each other.

Interruptions, where the referee interrupted the play until the players are allowed to continue playing:
Player discussions with the referee that lengthen the interruption:
The amount of time consumed will be awarded to the team discussing, if both teams are involved, half of the time consumed will be awarded to each team.
Set piece positioning by the referee:
This is for example the positioning of a wall before a free kick. The amount of time consumed will be awarded to the referee.
A booking of a player by the referee:
Usually the referee will take some time to write down the booked player in his notebook, the amount of time consumed will be awarded to the referee.
Communication of the referee with an assisting referee:
Amount of time consumed will be awarded to the referee.
Injury break:
When a player is injured on the pitch and the referee waits for him to leave the field. The amount of time consumed will be awarded to the team of the injured player.
Goal celebration:
The amount of time it takes from when the goal was scored until the kick off after that goal is executed. The time consumed will be awarded to the team that scored the goal.
The amount of time it takes until a player is replaced by another player. The time consumed will be awarded to the substituting team.
Untypical interruptions could be a spectator that runs on the pitch or an injury break of a referee. Amount of time consumed will be awarded to the referee.

Interruptions, where we wait on one team to continue and the play is not interrupted by the referee:
The amount of time from the ball crossing the sideline until it is back in play.
Goal kick:
The amount of time from the ball crossing the byline until the goalkeeper kicks it back into play.
Free kick:
The amount of time from the referee permitting the players to execute a free kick until they actually kick the ball.
Corner kick:
The amount of time from the ball crossing the byline and the team kicks the ball from the corner flag back into play.

Applying this method
It was the 18th February 2017, when Bayern Munich scored the latest goal in the history of the German Bundesliga at the end of the 96th minute against Hertha BSC Berlin. What followed were players discussing with the referee, a Berlin coach that could not understand the amount of stoppage time given, TV experts analyzing the effective playing time of the match and thousands of spectators sharing the opinion, that a referee in the Bundesliga won’t end a match until Bayern Munich has scored a goal. Does this game sound delicate enough for you to serve as the first applied time analysis? Yep, I think so too. In the following, you will see the effective playing time of the match in comparison to the total game time, the total amount of seconds spent by each team and the referee, the longest interruptions and the average amount of seconds wasted by each team in each type of interruption.
of 7:32 minutesstoppage time03:02 minof 90 minutesregulation time59:28 minof 97:32 minutes62:30minEffective playing time
17:5812:1604:48Hertha BSCBayern MunichRefereeTotal amount of minutes spent byteams and referee
Goal celebration Hertha BSC (1-0)66 secondsInjury break Vedad Ibisevic after Bayern Munichkicked the ball out of play70 secondsInjury break Per Skjelbred after a foul byRobert Lewandowski93 secondsLongest interruptions
13.7s15.2sDiscussion with referee13.3s38.8sInjury break15s41.3sSubstitution15.5s32sCorner kick7.7s14.6sFree kick21.8s32sGoal kick5.9s16.5sThrow-inAverage amount of seconds spenton interruption type
Looking at the above shown stats it becomes clear, that interruptions, where we were waiting on Hertha BSC to continue, took longer than interruptions, where we waited on Bayern Munich to continue. On average, Hertha took twice as much time to complete interruptions (22.8 seconds) than Bayern Munich (9.8 seconds). However, 59:28 minutes of effective playing time in regular 90 minutes is not a small amount of actual time played. I do not have statistics about the actual time played other than this match time analysis, but according to Opta the average effective playing time in the Bundesliga season 16/17 was 56 minutes. However, I cannot tell if Opta measures the effective playing time only per 90 minutes or for the whole game including stoppage time. Considering that the actual time played was already 3 minutes higher than the average for the Bundesliga 16/17, a total stoppage time of 07:32 minutes seems huge. However, the FIFA rules say, that a referee should reward time wasting with a higher amount of additional time. Referring to that, only 5 minutes were actually played in the last 11 minutes of the game, with Hertha wasting most of this time. Therefore, it was right to award more stoppage time to punish Hertha’s time consuming, but a total of 6:32 minutes in the second half seems too much, 4 minutes would have probably been fair.

The discussions about effective playing time were boosted by the IFAB in June 2017 with their initiative “Play Fair”, where they suggested stopping the clock during interruptions in a football match to prevent teams from wasting time. They suggested an effective playing time (without interruptions) of 60 minutes. Personally, I see this approach as an interesting idea as I think time wasting is not an attractive addition to the game. Nevertheless, it will be a long way until an effective playing time of 60 minutes will be established, right now we cannot even tell if it will be introduced at all. Until then, I will take a closer look at the interruptions caused and the resulting effective playing time in selected matches, because detailed analysis on this matter is not widespread and therefore very interesting to research.

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