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Imagine playing in a game where the match officials stop the clock every time. Won’t you find it boring? The disruption of the flow of the game that comes along with stopping the clock every time will be quite annoying. That’s why these days most games have some additional time after each half of play.
In soccer, match officials do not necessarily need to stop the clock every time there is a disruption of play. For instance, when a foul is made or the ball goes out for a throw-in, the referee does not have to stop the play. Stopping the clock means there is a stop of play which will disrupt the match intensity and tempo of the game.
In this article, we will explore in detail why the clock isn’t stopped in soccer, how time is kept in a soccer game, and why the clock is stopped in high school soccer. So read on to get enlightened.
Why Don’t They Stop the Clock in Soccer?
Some sports like an NFL game can go for several hours (3-4) as a result of the frequent clock stops. Major League baseball games also have similar clock stopping traits. Soccer though is unique. Instead of stopping the clock, the referee adds some time at the end of each half of play. Sometimes the referee may even add more time to the added minutes at his discretion if time was wasted during a goal celebration or a player was injured.
There has been an introduction of the cooling breaks in soccer. Players rush to take some water and catch a breath. Despite these breaks, you should note that the clock does not stop.
Generally, soccer is a 90 minutes game with each half having 45 minutes. Now that you are aware that you are probably asking why the referee does not stop the play after the allocated time. You might even start suggesting that the extra added time is unfair, where the referee adds more time so that the losing team can even salvage a draw. Unfortunately, there have been many goals scored during the added minutes, but this does not necessarily mean that the referee is biased.
If you ask soccer fans they will try to give you some of the reasons as to why the clock doesn’t stop. Some include;
1. Soccer is a passionate game
Soccer is a passionate game filled with emotions and anticipations and avoiding the stop of the clock attributes to these elements. Some will say that this is ‘perfectly unperfected’.
In soccer, tackles are made and players get injured as a result. It can take several minutes for the physics to attend to the injured players but the clock is kept running until the play resumes. After the end of the 45 minutes, the referee adds more time and this lets soccer be a free-flowing game.
Even better, the added time of most matches in the second half makes soccer quite thrilling. Research has shown that most of the time is wasted in the second 45 minutes period and the added time acts as a wake-up call and triggers the adrenaline in players. The unpredictability of the game makes soccer a passionate game.
2. Soccer Rules
Most match officials in soccer will also tell you to look at law #7 of the soccer rule book. It clearly outlines that the clock stops only for fifteen minutes during halftime.
The rules here state that there should be an allowance of time to compensate for the one lost since the clock never stops. As mentioned earlier, in-game situations like injuries, time-wasting, and substitutions will stop the game but won’t affect the running of the clock. Instead, the stoppage time is added at the end to cater to such situations.
Why Does the Clock Stop in High School Soccer?
High school soccer is quite different from professional soccer, most importantly because of the in-game stoppage in the clock.
In the US, high school soccer is governed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NHFS). Unlike professional soccer, the clock is stopped whenever a goal is scored. Celebrations of the goal will carry on and the clock remains stopped until the kick-off.
Another instance is when a player is injured and the referee gives a signal. The clock is stopped until the player is taken off the field of play. The signal from the referee though has to come from his arms when he crosses them whilst the wristwatch is above him (on the head). However, you should note that the referee will stop the clock after stopping the player because he deems the injury serious.
NHFS again rules that the clock should be stopped whenever there is a simulation or in the event of a player taking a kick spot-penalty. High school soccer has a timekeeper who restarts the clock when the play resumes or when the referee signal for a restart. Despite the timekeeper’s duties, the referee can also order the readjustment of the clock if it is not working in synchrony with his wristwatch.
Sometimes, there is a use of a stadium clock system as the official time system if it works properly. Announcements can also be made towards the latter stages of the match to inform everyone involved, of the time remaining before the conclusion of the game.
In general, the referee will stop the clock if:
- A goal is scored
- A yellow card issued
- A penalty spot-kick is awarded
- Referees decision to stop because of an injury/ other delays
How Time Is Kept in a Soccer Game
Law #7 in soccer often dictates how time should be controlled. A complete soccer match should be played for 90 minutes. There are other ways in which time can be managed.
Additional time- the referee allows more time as he sees fit due to the time wasted in injuries, substitutions, throws, and corner kick delays.
A tie game- in case of a draw in a knockout league the match is allowed to go for extra minutes (normally in quarterfinals and semifinals). If both teams are in a stalemate, then players will proceed to penalty shootouts. The clock does not stop.
To sum up, management of time in soccer is a crucial element, and the game’s rules to avoid stopping the clock does not make it unfair.