Happy International Women's Day, friends! Let's celebrate the only possible way, by talking about stoppage time.
Reader Tom emailed me a few questions about stoppage time, and I thought I'd answer here in case some of you have similar confusion. So let's get into another installment of FASQ.
"When is stoppage time announced? How much stoppage time will be added to each half? Is it at the end of the half or near the end?"
Stoppage time is announced at the 45-minute or 90-minute mark, which is the very end of the first and second half, respectively. The clock doesn't stop for fouls, injuries, substitutions, etc. So if there are enough of those that merit some stoppage time being added on, it will be announced at the end of the half. (If you look carefully, you might see the referee indicate how much stoppage time a minute or so before the end of the half. Or you can see the fourth official plugging the number of minutes into the board he holds up announcing stoppage time.)
"Is it true that one of the officials has a watch so the can figure out how much time should be added?"
Yes. So, there are four referees in soccer. The head ref is the one running around on the pitch with the players, doling out the cards and such. The assistant refs are the ones on the sideline on either end of the pitch. They signal for offsides, corner kicks/goal kicks/throw-ins, etc. The fourth official is the one that stands on the sidelines at the center of the pitch between the two benches. He's the one who is keeping track of how much time is being eaten up by fouls/injuries/substitutions, and toward the end of the half, will indicate to the head ref the minimum time that should be added. But the head ref has the discretion to increase that time. Can't reduce it, though.
"It would seem that the more stoppage time, the better for the home team?"
Not necessarily. Essentially, whichever team is winning wants the least stoppage time because that's just more time for the other team to score a goal. And stoppage time can get wild in a close match (or, you know, when ahead 3-1 a la Portland v. United). Obviously, home teams have a big advantage with the crowd behind them. But if a team is ahead, it just wants the match to end so it gets the three points. If behind, it wants all the extra time possible to try to equalize or win. And if tied, both teams usually wouldn't mind some extra time to try to pull off the win.
"Do players ever fake injuries to try to get more time added? Is there a penalty for that?"
Oh, goodness. This is like a whole different can of worms. So, short answer, yes. I think it would actually be more common, though, for a player to fake an injury as a way to delay the match. Because even if that tacks on some stoppage time, it can disrupt the opponent's momentum at the time. Or if it is during stoppage time, it can eat up some of that (though, again, the ref has some discretion there to keep play going if enough of that happens). When a player fakes an injury, it's called "diving." Soccer is rather infamous for it. People frown upon it. But players do it not just as a way to "cheat," so to say. The match moves very quickly, and fouls are hard for referees to always pick out correctly. So making the most of a foul, or whatnot, is a way to get the ref's attention. Like it or not, it's just how it is.
So anyway back to the question. Yes, a player can be carded for diving. Players can also be carded for delaying the restart of play. If you're interested in all these nuances, check out the Laws of the Game. It has got all the specifics on what refs are looking out for during a match.