Stoppage Time Football

How Is Stoppage Time Calculated In Football? (Explained)

A football match rarely ends exactly at half-time, irrespective of the events that occurred during the game. In almost all matches, the referee will add a few minutes after the 45th or 90th minute.

These additional minutes are a matter of serious business like the rest of the game, especially since the game’s outcome still hangs in the balance.

How is the stoppage time calculated?

This is what you need to know:

What is stoppage time in football? 

Once the full 90 minutes of a match has elapsed, the referee may add a few minutes to compensate for any stoppages that occur during the game. This period of additional minutes is known as the stoppage time.

Stoppage time may be referred to as additional time or injury time.

However, you may want to note that this is different from extra time, which usually occurs when teams are still tied after the end of the game in a knockout tournament.

You can view how stoppage time is represented in a soccer scoreboard in this article here.

Who decides how much stoppage time there is in a football match?

The referee determines the amount of stoppage time in a football match, based on the amount of playing time that has been lost in the half of the match.

How is stoppage time calculated in football?

Stoppage time is calculated based on the amount of time that has been lost to stoppages that occur during the game. The referee will sum up all of these stoppages, and will determine the amount of time to be added on at the end of the half.

Here is what is mentioned in Law 7.3 in the Laws of the Game:

Law 7.3 IFAB Stoppage of Play

Once the referee decides on the appropriate time, he communicates this to the fourth official. The fourth official displays the time allowed, which is the minimum amount of minutes. 

In the event that the referee gets injured, it is normally the fourth official who will replace him.

However, a peculiar situation occurs if there is a stoppage before the regular time ends. Suppose this stoppage occurs after announcing the additional time and lasts longer than the rest of regular time.

Law 7.3 IFAB Stoppage of Play FAQ

In that case, the original stoppage time is to be played with no more minutes. 

Is stoppage time really accurate?

The stoppage time gives rise to a fair amount of controversy in games. Mistakes are likely to occur as it is entirely the referee’s decision.

Hence, the stoppage time is not always accurate but is usually a fair reflection of the game.

A famous example of controversial stoppage time is Fergie time. During the successful long stint of Alex Ferguson as the manager of Manchester United, it became recurrent for his side to get relatively long amounts of stoppage time. 

The Premier League world came to know this emotional rollercoaster period of additional minutes as Fergie time

Many of Manchester United’s memorable triumphs occurred during Fergie time. These triumphs were interpreted as a combination of referee favour and the grit of Sir Ferguson’s men. 

Is there a maximum limit to the amount of stoppage time in a football match? 

The Laws of the Game stipulate that there is no maximum or minimum limit regarding the amount of stoppage time. 

Although it is uncommon for referees to award brief or lengthy stoppage time, there are no laws of the game binding them not to.  

Thus, the referee will add as many minutes he deems necessary.

What is the longest amount of stoppage time given in a match?

There have been matches where the referee awarded an absurdly long stoppage time. An example is the EFL Cup clash between Burton Albion and AFC Bournemouth

You can find out how the EFL Cup differs from the FA Cup here.

In this match, the referee allowed for 28 minutes of additional time. However, this was due to technical difficulties of power outages during the game.

The game had to be suspended on three different occasions due to power failure in the region that affected the stadium. As a result, the referee initially decided to abandon the game but was convinced otherwise by league officials.

Once the floodlights were restored in the stadium, the referee allowed the additional time to go on.

The match ended in a 2-0 win for the home side, Burton Albion.

Has there ever been no stoppage time in a football match?

Although it is uncommon for referees not to award stoppage time, there are several instances where this has happened.

The referee may decide not to give additional time for two reasons. These include:

#1 Large scoreline of the match

If the match ended in a rout (a winning margin of 5 goals or more), the referee would logically neglect the need for any extra time.

An example of this is the rampant Argentina 6-0 win over Serbia & Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup.

The referee blew the final whistle immediately after the 90 minutes had elapsed. 

#2 Circumstances of the match 

Another reason for the lack of additional time may be fatigue or harsh weather conditions.

An example occurred in a group stage match between Mali and Tunisia in the 2021 AFCON held in Cameroon. The referee, Janny Sikazwe, prematurely blew the whistle at the 85th minute during this match.

However, the players and fans protested, which led to the game’s resumption. Once the 90 minutes were elapsed, the referee blew the final whistle.

It was expected that the referee would add minutes due to the match’s events, which included a red card, a penalty and a brief suspension. However, the referees did not budge to the pressure and had to be escorted off the field by security.

The most aggrieved party was the Tunisian national team’s players and coaching staff. By the referee’s decision, the match had ended in a 0-1 loss to a 10-man Mali team.

The Mali team only had 10 men because one of the players was given a red card.

If the referee had awarded additional time, their players may have had enough time to turn the game around.

Once the referee left, the suspended match descended into chaos. After 25 minutes had passed, the fourth official came on to continue the game but the Tunisian team refused to return

Instead, they lodged complaints to the competition authorities. However, the CAF organising committee discarded their complaints since they refused to return to the field after the fourth official stepped in. 

Moreover, a CAF official later divulged that the referee stopped the match due to the harsh Cameroonian weather. The referee was suffering from a case of heatstroke and dehydration

Because of these conditions, the referee found it unbearable to continue the match and decided against awarding any minutes of extra time.


Referees implement the stoppage time during football games. It is added after full time in amounts proportional to the match’s events and the referee’s discretion.

Stoppage time is essential in a football match as the match is undecided until the final whistle is blown. However, there are no legal limits to how many minutes the referee may add.

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