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Added time at World Cup: Added strain or added drama?

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Do not adjust your television sets: England and Iran really did play nearly half an hour of injury time in their World Cup game.

And that was not the only match in Qatar to drag on well beyond the allotted 90 minutes. It is early days at this World Cup, but already a very noticeable trend has emerged: games are going on much, much longer than normal.

So what is going on? It is no accident. Prior to the World Cup kicking off on Sunday, Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA's referee's committee, said fourth officials would be keeping a firm eye on time lost during games.

That could be due to injuries, substitutions, red or yellow cards, video assistant referee interventions and also some old-fashioned time-wasting from teams trying to hang on to a lead. "In Russia (World Cup 2018), we tried to be more accurate in compensating for time lost during games, and that's why you saw six, seven or even eight minutes added on," he told reporters at a pre-tournament briefing. "Think about it: if you have three goals in a half, you'll probably lose four or five minutes in total to celebrations and the restart." For players and coaches already worried about the sheer amount of football squeezed into an already congested season, this can only be bad news.

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