FIFA referees’ chief Pierluigi Collina says ‘mercy rule’ could be introduced in football

FIFA referees’ chief Pierluigi Collina has said a new “mercy rule” could be introduced worldwide in football going forward.

At the World Cup, fans were surprised to see extremely large amounts of added time awarded as part of a new approach from FIFA.

In the first four games alone there were 64 minutes added on and Iran’s Mehdi Taremi would score the latest ever World Cup goal excluding extra time when he converted a penalty with 102:30 on the clock.

It set the precedent for the tournament in Qatar, where the average match time totalled 102 minutes.

The time taken for goal celebrations, injuries, time-wasting, VAR calls and substitutions were added back on at the end to make up for the stoppages.

IFAB, football’s governing lawmakers, are keen to implement it across the board and so it’s looking increasingly like that there will be 100 minute matches in the Premier League next season.

And referee head honcho Collina, widely one of the best officials in history, believes more time should have been added on in Man United’s 7-0 hammering at the hands of Liverpool.

Image: Alamy

Man in the middle Andy Madley added on four minutes at the end of the 90 played despite six goals and 10 substitutions.

“Last weekend, ten matches were played in the Premier League and four matches exceeded 100 minutes [in total],” Collina said at the IFAB AGM, as per The Times.

“Two of them should have been higher than this only because they were 7-0 and 4-0 [Brighton v West Ham United] and the referee probably decided not to consider the additional time be given accurately.

“Six goals were scored in the second half [at Anfield]. I can understand that giving quite a relevant amount of additional time when it is 7-0 is difficult to understand in this specific match. But if the regulations of the competition say that the entire goal difference is relevant for the ranking at the end even one goal scored or not scored can make the difference.”

Image: PA

In baseball, the “mercy rule” is applied after its deemed there is a point of no return – in the event a team are leading by more than 10 runs after a specific number of innings.

And it could well be making its way to football in the type of scenario we saw on Sunday, where United were utterly obliterated at Anfield.

Collina believes it could be an option in the future though stressed the need to apply common sense when it comes to possible permutations.
Image: Alamy

He explained: “Maybe in the future we may consider to say that additional time has not to be given at the end of the match if there is a difference bigger than ‘X goals’ between the two teams, but that would be in the laws of the game.

“Now it is common sense — but common sense is not common sense if it affects someone. In Spain v Costa Rica at the World Cup, Spain were leading 6-0 and eight minutes of additional time were given.

“Spain scored one [more] goal in additional time [to make it 7-0] and that goal could have cost Spain or Costa Rica qualification for the next round of the competition.”

In the Premier League this term, the average time where the ball has been in play is at 55 minutes.


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