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Football with a stop clock? Xavi adds voice to growing calls for time wasting solution

The Barcelona manager proposes stopping the clock when the ball is not in play with LaLiga the league in which fewer minutes are played but with the most time added on.

Lewandowski, during the Barcelona-Rayo.

Xavi Hernandez is the latest high profile coach adding his voice for the introduction of a stop clock in professional football to stop time wasting. Last Saturday, the Barça coach showed his indignation at the loss of time in the home game to Rayo Vallecano and proposes that the clock be stopped every time the ball is not in play. “For me it’s a ridiculous situation and I’m not singling out Rayo here. But I think we are the only sport where we never play the regulation time. Don’t we want fairplay? Well, that would put an end to cheating”, he stated after the Camp Nou draw.

His protest comes after the first day of the 2022-23 LaLiga season in which on average 52 minutes and 31 seconds were played. That is, 38 minutes are lost between protests, delays in getting the ball out, medical attention, substitutions, VAR and footballers who feign injury. This weekend, the match with the most play in play time was Sunday’s Almería-Real Madrid contest (58 minutes); with only 48 minutes of football being played during Monday’s Betis-Elche game.

GameBall in playTotal timeAdded time (1st half)Added time (2nd half)
Cádiz-R. Sociedad51:30101:0029
Almería-Real Madrid58:33100:1346

The Spanish top flight is the standout among the top five major European leagues where the ball is in play least with the Premier League featuring an average of 2 minutes more game time with LaLiga officials looking to compensate by adding minutes at the end of matches.

CompetitionBall in play time
Ligue 154:19
Serie A54:18

Former Premier League match official Mark Clattenburg is one of the advocators for a stop-clock to be introduced as a deterrent to time wasting and Spanish referees has been asked by the refereeing commission to talk less with the players and not to let player return to the field of play if the official suspects that they have been feigning injury as they clock ticks down. “I think there’s a solution to all of this and that’s 60-minute matches with a stop clock – an idea which Pierluigi Collina, Fifa and Ifab are currently looking at. It works in basketball and it could work in football, too,” claimed Clattenburg.