Major League Soccer

Three new football rules to clamp down on time-wasting this weekend

Three new football rules to clamp down on time-wasting this weekend

MLS referees will be given new powers in an attempt to wipe out time-wasting – USA Today/Troy Babbitt

A crackdown on footballers time-wasting – including by feigning injury – is to make its top-flight debut this weekend.

From Saturday, Major League Soccer players will be forced to leave the pitch for at least two minutes if they go down for more than 15 seconds and require medical attention.

The only exceptions are for fouls resulting in a yellow or red card, head injuries, serious medical events, and injuries to goalkeepers.

The crackdown will take place alongside another for substitutions, which will see players taken off by a manager have to leave the field via the nearest touchline within 10 seconds of the fourth official holding up their shirt number.

Failure to comply will result in play resuming and the offending team being forced to continue with a player short for at least another minute – and until the next stoppage.

Goalkeeper changes will be exempt from the new rule, as will injury substitutions.

MLS announced the double-crackdown before the season began but its introduction was delayed by a referees’ strike.

Another change to make its MLS debut this weekend will be in-stadium announcement of video assistant referee decisions, which have already been used at the likes of the Women’s World Cup.

English football imposed its own time-wasting crackdown at the start of the season which is similar, but less strict, than that agreed by MLS.

In the Premier League and English Football League, players requiring treatment for anything other than a head injury or yellow- or red-card foul, must leave the pitch for at least 30 seconds.

The campaign has also witnessed an unprecedented amount of added-time for the likes of substitutions, resulting in a record number of late goals.

Sources have told Telegraph Sport that the changes have significantly boosted the ball-in-play time.

After the MLS crackdown was announced, Match of the Day presenter Gary Linker posted on X: “More ridiculous nonsense. Punishing players and teams for getting hurt/injured thus rewarding those that commit fouls that cause injuries. You couldn’t make it up, but they do.”

The three new rules coming into force

Two-minute break for ‘injured’ players

If a player goes down ‘injured’ for more than 15 seconds and needs medical attention, treatment will have to be carried out off the field if it is safe to do so. The player will not be allowed to return to the pitch for at least two minutes. The only exceptions are for fouls resulting in a yellow or red card, head injuries, serious medical events, and injuries to goalkeepers. The Premier League and English Football League imposed a similar crackdown this season but with players allowed to return after 30 seconds.

10-second substitutions

Players being substituted must leave the field by the nearest touchline within 10 seconds of the fourth official holding up their shirt number. If they fail to do so, the player coming on must wait for at least another minute – and until the next stoppage – before entering the field. Exemptions from this include goalkeeper changes and injury substitutions.

In-stadium VAR announcements

Already used at last year’s Women’s World Cup, these are designed to stop match-going fans being kept in the dark about the result of VAR decisions. This could also be introduced to the Premier League next season.

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