Stoppage time in soccer is getting out of control. At the World Cup in Qatar, we saw how the customary three to five added minutes went right to the 10+ zone, while FIFA — through the International Football Association Board (IFAB) — recently suggested leagues worldwide follow suit as a way to "increase the net playing time and reduce time-wasting."
And look, I don't know if the memo got to the Bolivian soccer federation, but a local league game there went on forever because of these guidelines. What does "forever" mean? We're talking about 43 minutes of stoppage time.
Yeah! Almost an entire extra half!
Stoppage time record in Bolivia
The Atlético Palmaflor vs. Blooming game is going to be remembered through the ages. The match was scheduled originally for last Sunday, but a TV strike forced its postponment until the following day.
On Monday, a downpour over the city of Cochabamba threatened to reschedule the game again, however, despite the deluge, the players asked the refs to play. And what a ride it was.
Under the rain, Atlético Palmaflor got a 2-0 lead and seemed ready to celebrate before Blooming put one on the scoreboard in the 85th minute. The goal was a bit controversial and needed a 17-minute VAR check for a possible offside before being validated.
Those 17 minutes needed to be added after regular time was over, but referee Julio Fernando Gutiérrez surprised everybody when he decided to add not 18 or 20 but a total of 30 minutes of stoppage time.
Why? Go figure.
And things happened during those 30 minutes. Blooming got an equalizer and two red cards added even more stoppage time to the game. Those minutes helped Atlético Palmaflor score a winning goal when the clock showed 90'+38.
Record? Maybe. We looked for some late goals in stoppage time and found about the 90'+11 Wout Weghorst equalizer in the 2022 World Cup game between Netherlands and Argentina, a 90'+16 scored by Anderson in a promotion playoff match in Brazil between Gremio and Nautico, and a story about a Cypriot Cup game between Apollon Limassol and Anorthosis Famagusta with a couple of goals over the 90'+20 mark.
At any rate, at the 133rd minute, the Atlético Palmaflor vs. Blooming match was finally over.
In Blooming, the anger was palpable. The club sarcastically tweeted "end of the third half" after the final whistle and harshly criticized the ref's performance.
¡Final del ! ⏱️Bochornoso arbitraje, quienes otra vez fueron protagonistas del partido exponiendo a los jugadores a posibles lesiones, dando una excesiva adición y perjudicando por completo el resultado que nuestros jugadores lograron con mucho merecimiento. pic.twitter.com/xFOHJ51U3k
— Club Blooming (@BloomingOficial) March 14, 2023
Despite the victory, Atlético Palmaflor was not happy either. And their boss, former Bolivian president Evo Morales, voiced it on social media.
"We are happy for our team's victory against Blooming, despite the suspicious refereeing. We are sorry about it and ask for a performance review of all the referees who exaggeratedly prolong matches. We would not like to think that they were looking to make our team lose," he said.
Muy satisfechos porque nuestro equipo Palmaflor nos regaló una victoria ante Blooming pese a un arbitraje sospechoso. Lamentamos y pedimos que revisen la actuación de árbitros que prolongan partidos exageradamente, no quisiéramos pensar que buscaban hacer perder a nuestro cuadro. pic.twitter.com/nBb5Hv6sPv— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) March 15, 2023
And the discontent from both teams got attention because the Bolivian soccer federation decided to suspend the refs involved in the game while they investigate for any evidence of foul play.