Rethinking extra-time in major national football tournaments
Keywords:football, extra-time, injury
Extra-time (ET) of 30 minutes is played if football match scores are level after 90 minutes in tournament knockout play. The demanding schedule of these tournaments along with possible ET matches in the knockout stages significantly increase players’ overload and injury risk. Present study aimed to determine whether ET during major football national team tournaments contributes to the game outcome. Data on the percentage of elimination matches that needed ET, and the percentage of ET matches that eventually required shootouts were retrieved. Over the years, increased number of participating teams lead to increased number of knockout games, and more knockout games needed ET (13% until 1978, 33% from 1982, in FIFA World Cup). In a significant percentage of matches, the ET itself did not determine the winning team, and the majority of ET matches winners were determined by shootouts (FIFA World Cup since 1982: 60.8%; UEFA European championship: 61.3%; Copa America: 92%). The purpose of playing ET is to make a fair game outcome, and not leave the winning decision for shootouts. However, since in most matches ET does not determine the winner, while significantly increasing the player’s overload and injury susceptibility, the need for ET mandates rethinking.