As quoted by AP, FIFA referees committee chairman, and former international referee, Pierluigi Collina, has explained that the unprecedented levels of injury time being awarded at the end of every half at the World Cup is meant to give more of a “show to those watching.”
England’s 6-2 win over Iran saw 24 minutes of injury time added in total while most games have seen their second halves reaching the 99th or 100th minute, but Collina explained this was a deliberate initiative from FIFA who want to avoid low ball-in-play times. The Italian said:
“The purpose is to offer more show to those watching the World Cup… What we want to avoid is to have a match lasting 42, 43, 44, 45 minutes of active play. This is not acceptable… Celebrations may last one, one and a half minutes, and it’s easy to lose three, four, five minutes only for goal celebrations and this has to be considered and compensated for at the end.”
During the 2014 World Cup, the ball was in play for only around 60 minutes on average while the 2018 tournament, as well as some Premier League seasons since, have averaged around 55 minutes of actual play.