SPORT

Cautious welcome over plans to make football 60 minutes long

CAUTIOUS WELCOME OVER PLANS TO MAKE FOOTBALL 60 MINUTES LONG

Many players, coaches and fans have given a cautious welcome to proposals which would cut football matches to 30 minutes each way but where the actual playing time would be increased.

At present football is made up of two 45 minute halves but the clock is never stopped, even when the ball goes out of play or players are down injured.

Referees add on time at the end but it never tallies to the actual amount of time lost.

A proposal from the International Football Association Board (IFAB), football's rulemaking body which is separate from FIFA, says there could be two periods of 30 minutes with the clock stopped whenever the ball is out of play.

Arsenal goalkeeper and former Czech Republic stopper Petr Cech welcomed the idea, saying timewasting is a big problem in the current game given the clock does not stop.

"The game at this moment has 25 minutes of effective playing time per half so you would actually see more football," he wrote on Twitter.

The proposals at the moment are only for consideration and are part of a strategy document issued by IFAB called "Play Fair Strategy".

"I personally like this rule because there are so many teams who try to take advantage...because they are winning and wasting time," former Italy striker and West Ham United manager Gianfranco Zola told the BBC.

Sports such as American Football already have a game clock which is stopped when play is halted.

Soccer fans on social media were split with some supporting the idea but others dead against.

"Imagine a game being an hour long though, surely the prices have to go down?" said one Twitter user worried about ticket costs.

The document issued by IFAB, which is made up of four FIFA members and one each from the four British and Northern Irish associations who first formulated the sport, also suggests stopping the haranguing of referees and letting players dribble directly from free-kicks.

"Referees, players, coaches and fans all agree that improving player behaviour and respect for all participants and especially match officials, increasing playing time and the game's fairness and attractiveness must be football's main priority," said former Premier League referee David Elleray, who has overseen the document.

IFAB secretary Lukas Brud is convinced the changes will help and talks will now take place across of the game over whether to enact them.

"The strategy document is a milestone for football," he was quoted as saying by Germany's Bild newspaper.

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