One of the biggest criticisms of soccer and the World Cup is amount of time players spend on the ground with apparent injuries. Geoff Foster of the Wall Street Journal took a look at the first two games for every team at the World Cup and measured how much time each spent with players suffering from apparent injuries.
Foster calculated that there 302 instances in the first 32 games in which a player “could be seen at some point rolling around in pain, crumpling into a fetal position or lying lifeless on the pitch as the referee stopped the match.” These ate up 132 minutes of clock. Yet, of these, only nine players needed to be replaced by a substitute.
The other major point is the strategy. Of the 143 “injuries” that occurred when the score was not tied, 103 (72.0%) were players on winning teams. Foster’s theory is these teams are more likely to want to run out the clock. Of course, the other factor may be that losing teams may be more aggressive and more willing to attempt a risky tackle.
Here is a look at the number of injuries and amount of time games were delayed by apparent injury with the U.S. national team ranked fourth.
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