Arsene Wenger insists football’s new time-wasting rules will be better in the long run and bring game length down through conditioning player behaviour. Extended stoppage team and an increased number of bookings have provoked a huge debate in the sport, with Uefa last week revealing it will not follow the protocols.
Wenger, speaking to The Independent in his role as Fifa's chief of global football development, says he could already see the successful effects through the men’s and women’s World Cups in Qatar and then in Australia and New Zealand. He also dismissed the idea it would physically affect players and broke the issue down to a philosophical point.
“I would say are you against time-wasting? Personally I say yes. I am against time-wasting. For the equity of the game, we want the team who wants to play to be rewarded. For the respect of the fan who sits in the stand, the teams to play, to encourage the teams not to waste time. After, it looks logical to me to fight against time-wasting. After that, the second question is how. Then you have to find the logic in it.
“The logic should be for me to add the time wasted on purpose or accidental. Do you limit that time? Personally I am not in favour of limiting it, because once it’s the same thing as the offside, people say give them five inches or two inches and then people say why not three. Once there’s no logic behind it, it’s difficult to defend the decision. So we have to continue to do that.
“I feel having watched the last two World Cups in Doha and now in Australia, it discourages the team to waste time. And we have to have a certain logic in it. The average is around 10 minutes. It happens sometimes there has been 18, maybe due to head injuries. After, is it detrimental to the welfare of the players? I don’t believe so, because five substitutions, we have now two minutes more, two minutes more will not [be detrimental]… when it is needed.”
Wenger similarly appealed to the basic fairness of the game.
“I believe that, if I support Arsenal, if Arsenal’s visiting team is leading 1-0, and they lie down every two minutes I become upset. If on top of that after 90 minutes there is no added time, I become crazy. I want my team to have the chance to come back, so it depends always on what side. If you want to take the subway it’s not ideal, but if it’s between taking the subway or my team winning the game, I still choose my team winning the game!”