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Explaining how stoppage time, VAR work in soccer ahead of 2022 World Cup

Here’s how VAR and stoppage time works ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 12: Referee Jarred Gillett consults the VAR monitor before awarding a penalty to Leicester City during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Leicester City at London Stadium on November 12, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

The 2022 FIFA World Cup makes its long-awaited debut with host nation Qatar opening the tournament against Ecuador on Sunday, November 20. With each country looking to pick up the necessary points to advance past the group stage and further into the tournament, sometimes a win can hinge on a correct call being made by officials. Ahead of the international competition, we are breaking down how both stoppage time and video assistant referee (VAR) work in the 2022 World Cup.

Stoppage time, or what is sometimes referred to as added time, is game time that the referee adds to the end of each half within a match. This additional time can be added by officials due to a number of reasons including, but not limited to, injuries that occur over the course of the two halves. Per the Football Association, a referee may add stoppage time due to the following factors:

  • Substitutions
  • Assessment of injured players
  • Removal of injured players
  • Time wasting
  • Disciplinary sanctions being issued
  • Any medical stoppages allowed by the rules, such as those for a drinks break
  • Any delays added for VAR checks

As the conclusion of each half approaches, the fourth official must display the minimum amount of time that the respective referee indicated will be added to the game period. A referee can allow the half to be played longer than the time indicated but no fewer minutes than, hence the minimum designation. While a few extra minutes here and there may seem inconsequential, it is during these periods that a respective team may push even harder for an opportunity to catch their opponent off-guard for a last-minute goal.

Additionally, VAR may be needed in the event of reviewing a play that has just occurred. VAR, or video assistant referee, is a match official with independent access to match footage who may assist the referee only in the event of a ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident.’ The use of VAR may be needed in response to the following:

  • Goal/no goal
  • Penalty/no penalty
  • Direct red card (not second yellow card/caution)
  • Mistaken identity (when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player of the offending team)

Similar to other sports, an additional review of a play by an independent official can help resolve what is a missed error upon further evaluation. With many teams’ hopes of advancing further in the tournament hingeing on taking advantage of every opportunity in possessing the ball, the use of VAR can help avoid any mistakes that would have previously been detrimental to a team.