BBC Sport pundits, Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand, have called on extra-time to be scrapped after the dismal Portugal-France quarter-final.

Player safety has become a major talking point in recent months. Due to expanded schedules, soccer stars are regularly asked to play more matches than ever before.

FIFA has added extra teams to both the World Cup and Club World Cup in recent years. UEFA, Europe’s governing body of the sport, also previously expanded their premier competition in 2016.

This topic has come around again during Euro 2024. The tournament recently began just weeks after many European domestic leagues completed. Although the competition in Germany has been a success so far, several games have seemingly gone stale as play progresses.

An extra 30 minutes are currently added to Euro matches if the scoreline is still tied after regular time. Assuming the score remains level after this extra time, the two teams must decide a result in a penalty shootout. Both of Friday’s quarterfinal fixtures featured extra time.

Spain eventually topped Germany before a potential shootout could occur. However, the game between France and Portugal had to go to penalties. France edged their opponents on the night after Portuguese star Joao Felix hit the post with his attempt in the shootout.

Former England stars hold concerns about player burnout in extra time

While the latter game was certainly dramatic, some significant soccer pundits believe the match lacked intensity in extra time. Former England internationals Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand both believe that extra time should be completely scrapped.

“I have to say, though, I do wonder about extra time these days, with the players,” Lineker stated on BBC‘s coverage of the tournament. “It’s at the end of an incredibly hard season of football.

They’re asked to play so many games of football. I think it’s one of the reasons perhaps at this tournament we’ve seen some tired-looking footballers.”

“If they’re asking them to play more football matches, perhaps they can give them something back by taking away extra time. Because everybody at home wants to see the penalties once it goes to extra time anyway!”

Portugal’s quater-final defeat to France was a dismal match, finishing 0-0 after 120 minutes
Portugal’s quater-final defeat to France was a dismal match, finishing 0-0 after 120 minutes

Portugal’s quater-final defeat to France was a dismal match, finishing 0-0 after 120 minutes

Lineker’s notion was immediately echoed by Ferdinand. “There’s going to be a breaking point,” proclaimed the former defender. “The players are going to break. If we produce more competitions and more games the players are going to break, it’s not fair on the players I don’t think. You have to find a way of taking the minutes away and rather than going to extra time go straight to penalties.”

Copa America officials recently opted to scrap extra time

The two pundits were seemingly backed up by France forward Kylian Mbappe. The superstar was surprisingly substituted in extra time in the matchup, well before the shootout. While some suggested that he had to have been injured, Mbappe claimed after the game that he was just too tired to continue playing.

Discussions over having an extra period or not in major tournaments is not just a key point at the Euros. Copa America 2024 officials recently, while the competition was already in progress mind you, made the decision to scrap extra time. The move was met with immediate debate.

Some say that going straight to a shootout makes top tournament matches feel more like friendlies. Others declare that the move avoids potential stalemates such as the France-Portugal fixture. Although both arguments are certainly valid, player safety should be the biggest priority during these major tournaments.

Photo credits: IMAGO / ANP : IMAGO / Sportimage