Raphael Varane, who joined Manchester United in August 2021, has criticised the newly implemented injury time and dissent rules, stating they are “harming our sport” and the voices of players are “not acknowledged”.
The new season will see longer injury time to reflect game interruptions more precisely. Players and managers have been informed about stricter penalties for misconduct during matches.
On Sunday, Manchester City’s manager, Pep Guardiola, expressed his dissatisfaction with the new extra time rule. He criticised the “top echelons” for failing to consult the game’s participants after his team conceded in the 101st minute of the Community Shield, leading to their penalty shootout loss to Arsenal.
In the same game, Thomas Partey of Arsenal and Julian Alvarez of City received yellow cards for kicking the ball away after a free-kick whistle. Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s manager, got a yellow card for appealing for Rodri to be booked, marking the introduction of new behaviour guidelines from the Football Association.
“We had a consultation last week with the FA. They proposed new rulings and decisions from the referees,” posted the 30-year-old former French international Varane on social media on Monday.
“From the managers and players, we have been expressing our anxieties for many years about the excessive number of matches, the jam-packed schedule, and the precarious level it represents for the physical and psychological health of players.
“In spite of our previous feedback, they have now suggested for the upcoming season: extended games, heightened intensity, and lesser emotional expression from players. We only desire to be in optimum condition on the field to offer 100% to our club and supporters. Why are our views being disregarded?”
World Cup victor Varane, who stepped back from international football earlier this year, added, “As a player, I feel fortunate to do the job I adore daily, but I believe these changes are negatively impacting our sport. We aim to perform at our peak, give our best and enable fans to rejoice every week.
“I think it’s crucial that we, the players and managers, underscore these significant issues because we wish to safeguard the game we love and present our best to the fans.”
Both City and United participated in meetings last week to discuss these new rule applications.
The Professional Footballers’ Association stated its CEO, Maheta Molango, had encountered a “considerable number” of senior players and managers recently, including Varane.
“There are worries about how the new additional time rules will unfold over an extended season of league and cup matches, as opposed to brief tournaments,” a PFA spokesperson said.
“Given the practically year-long football season, players are already considering these extra minutes as equivalent to additional matches. It also arises at a time when players are resisting what is progressively becoming an utterly unsustainable football calendar.”
When discussing fixture congestion last month with Sport Newes Center, Fifa vice-president and Concacaf president Victor Montagliani said, “The strain on players is genuinely only for the 1% [at the top of the game]. The rest of the world’s footballers aren’t playing enough football. This is true not only in my Confederation but also in Europe, where the majority of players, unless they belong to a top-tier club, might not be playing at the same level as others.”
Why is there now more injury time?
The International Football Association Board (Ifab), the legislators of football, announced its goal to “establish fairer conditions for both teams in terms of match time” at the beginning of the year. This trend became prominent at the Qatar World Cup in late 2022.
Following this recommendation, the Football Association and English Football League have instructed match officials to add the exact time taken for specific events, like goals and substitutions, instead of the “approximate” time they used before.
The 2022-23 season in England saw a decreasing average ball in play time from the Premier League to League Two.
In the first weekend of the 2023-24 EFL season, several games experienced extended injury time.
Guardiola stated, “Now, every game we’re going to play will last for 100 minutes. From my perspective, time-wasting will not be resolved by adding 10 more minutes. It’s more exhausting for the players. It’s too much.”
Despite these criticisms, Dean Holden, Charlton Athletic’s manager, supports the initiative for increased playing time. “I am a qualified referee myself and understand the difficulty in making numerous decisions and tracking time. I believe it should be the fourth official or someone else in the stadium managing the time,” he told Sport Newes Center.
Stricter Consequences for Misconduct
The Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League, Women’s Championship, National League System (Steps 1-4) and referees’ governing body PGMOL have collectively unveiled a ‘participant charter’.
It was developed in collaboration with the League Managers Association and Professional Footballers’ Association.
Players and managers have been informed about stricter penalties for misconduct during matches. New rules have also been set for the technical area.
Last season, the FA fined over 20 Premier League clubs for mobbing match officials or for mass confrontations, amounting to over £1m in total.
This season’s protocols require a team’s manager to attend a pre-match briefing while “players and team officials not listed on the team sheet must not enter the technical area”.