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Liverpool’s thrashing of Manchester United may lead to FIFA ‘mercy rule’

Pierluigi Collina, the head of FIFA’s referees committee, has spoken about a possible new law following Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Manchester United.

Pierluigi Collina, the head of FIFA’s referees committee, has spoken about a possible new law following Liverpool’s 7-0 win over Manchester United.

Lots of us who have played soccer – and other sports too – have experienced the feeling of being up against an opponent who is far better than we are. Probably much in the same way as the Manchester United players did in their thrashing at the hands of Liverpool last weekend. Only in our cases, we weren’t playing for one of the world’s biggest clubs in the Premier League…

After the final whistle, it came to attention of many onlookers that referee Andy Madley only added on four minutes of injury time at the end of the game, despite the fact that six goals were scored in the second half and 10 substitutions were made.

Huge amounts of stoppage time at the Qatar 2022 World Cup

Contrast that to the Qatar 2022 World Cup, where one of the standout features was the huge amounts of injury time played in every single match, certainly by comparison to what we were used to. The first four matches alone saw a combined total of 64 minutes added on, an average of 16 minutes per game, which dropped to 12 minutes come the end of the tournament.

Speaking at the International Football Association Board (IFAB) AGM, as reported by The Times, Collina explained that he viewed the decision to cut the stoppage time at the end of Liverpool vs Manchester United – and Brighton vs West Ham United, which ended 4-0 – as the match official literally showing ‘mercy’ to the team who were on the receiving end of a heavy loss.

“More injury time should’ve been played” in Liverpool win

“Last weekend, ten matches were played in the Premier League and four matches exceeded 100 minutes [in total],” the Italian said.

“Two of them should have been higher than this only because they were 7-0 and 4-0 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”.

‘Mercy rule’ obstacles

The Italian then spoke about the possibility of adding the ‘mercy rule’ to the laws of the game in the future, although he acknowledged that the fact that goal difference was a factor in many competitions complicates matters.

Imagine, for instance, that Liverpool miss out on Champions League qualification for next season by a single goal. Perhaps they could’ve scored an eighth (and even a ninth and a tenth, the way things were going) had a few more extra minutes been played against United at Anfield.

“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,” Collina added.

“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.”