Have you planned to watch a soccer game and wondered, “How long is a soccer game?” Whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to the sport, the length of a soccer game can be a puzzle. Various factors can extend the game’s duration, from stoppage time to extra periods and even penalty shootouts.
Understanding the duration of a soccer match is crucial, not just for planning your day around it but also for appreciating the strategy and stamina involved. This article breaks down everything you need to know about how long a soccer game lasts, so you can plan your day accordingly and fully enjoy the match.
How Long is a Soccer Game?
FIFA, the organization governing soccer, sets the game’s duration in stone. A standard soccer match lasts 90 minutes, divided into two 45-minute halves. Additionally, there is stoppage time and a 15-minute halftime break.
In specific cases like knockout tournaments, the game can go into extra time, which consists of two 15-minute halves and a 1-minute break. If the match is still tied, a penalty shootout takes place.
The total time for a regular game, including stoppage time and halftime, averages around 1:52 hours (112 minutes).
Contrary to some sports where the clock stops for various reasons, the clock in soccer runs continuously. It’s important to note that the 90-minute duration is not absolute.
The referee can add ‘stoppage time’ or ‘injury time’ to each half to compensate for delays due to substitutions, injuries, or other interruptions. This additional time is typically between 2-5 minutes per half but can extend further in cases of significant delays like major injuries.
In professional matches, the fourth official raises a board indicating the minimum additional time to be played. This time is not reducible but can be extended if the referee deems it necessary.
The continuous nature of the clock also leads to strategies like time-wasting, especially by leading teams. Referees are responsible for identifying these tactics and compensating for lost time accordingly.
|Periods of Play/Interval||Duration|
|Regulation Time (Full-Time)||90 minutes|
|Half-time Break||15 minutes|
|Avg. Stoppage Time/Half||3.5 minutes|
|TOTAL TIME (REGULAR)||1:52 hours (112 minutes)|
|Break between Full-Time and Extra Time||5 minutes|
|Extra Time||30 minutes|
|Extra Time Break||1 minute|
|Avg. Stoppage Time/Extra Time Half||2 minutes|
|TOTAL TIME (WITH EXTRA TIME)||2:32 hours (152 minutes)|
|Break between Extra Time and Penalties||5 minutes|
|Penalty Shootout Initial 5-kicks Stage||15 minutes|
|TOTAL TIME (WITH EXTRA TIME + PENALTIES)||2:52 hours (172 minutes)|
How Long is Stoppage Time?
Stoppage time in soccer is an additional period added at the end of each half to compensate for time lost due to interruptions like injuries, substitutions, or video reviews.
The concept is simple but crucial for maintaining the integrity of the game’s flow. The referee keeps track of these interruptions and communicates with the fourth official, indicating the minimum stoppage time to be added. This is usually displayed on an electronic board and ranges from 1 to 5 minutes, although it can extend further in exceptional cases.
On average, stoppage time is about 3.5 minutes per half. However, this can vary depending on the referee’s discretion. For instance, each goal should add 1 to 1.5 minutes, injuries add an extra minute on average, and every substitution represents an extra 45 seconds.
Interestingly, there is no maximum limit for stoppage time, and it can even stretch to 10, 11, or 12 minutes in extraordinary situations.
How Do Extra Periods Work?
In soccer, extra periods come into play when a match ends in a draw and a winner must be determined, such as in knockout tournaments like the FA Cup and the World Cup. These extra periods consist of two 15-minute halves, making it an additional 30 minutes of play. Unlike regular time, there is no break between the two halves of extra time; teams swap ends immediately.
The concept of extra time has evolved over the years. Initially, if a match ended in a draw, teams would meet again in what was known as a replay. However, this was time-consuming and logistically challenging.
To streamline the process, the International Football Association Board introduced the penalty kick shootout as a tiebreaker if scores remained level after 120 minutes of play.
Extra time also saw the introduction of the ‘Golden Goal’ rule in the 1990s, aimed at encouraging more attacking play.
The rule stated that the first team to score during extra time would win the match. However, this rule was eventually scrapped due to various concerns.
How Long is Halftime in Soccer?
Halftime in soccer serves as a crucial interval for both players and coaches. According to FIFA regulations, the halftime break lasts for a maximum of 15 minutes. This period is not just a break but a strategic window for teams.
Coaches use this time to discuss tactics, make adjustments, and motivate their players for the second half. Players take advantage of the break for hydration and nutrition, which is essential for maintaining their energy levels for the remaining 45 minutes of the game.
The rules are clear: the halftime break should not exceed 15 minutes. However, the referee can alter the duration, although this is rare.
In youth soccer games, the length of halftime may vary depending on the total game time. For instance, at the high school level, halftime usually lasts 10 minutes due to the shorter game duration.
Halftime also allows for a quick assessment of any potential injuries, giving the coaching staff a chance to decide whether a player should continue or be substituted. Overall, halftime is a multi-faceted interval that plays a significant role in the outcome of a soccer match.
How Long is a Professional Soccer Game?
The standard game duration in professional soccer remains the same as in any other level: 90 minutes, split into two 45-minute halves.
However, the dynamics can change, especially during the knockout stages of tournaments like the FIFA World Cup. In these instances, if the match ends in a draw, an extra period of 30 minutes is added, divided into two 15-minute halves. A penalty shootout ensues to determine the winner if the game is still level after this extra time.
The concept of ‘stoppage time’ also varies in professional matches. For example, in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, referees were instructed to be more rigorous in adding stoppage time.
This was done to more accurately measure match stops for time-wasting, substitutions, penalties, red cards, VAR decisions, and goal celebrations. As a result, stoppage time was longer than usual.
So referees added significantly more stoppage time than usual, sometimes extending it to 10 minutes, to account for delays like VAR reviews and goal celebrations. This adjustment aims to offer more entertainment value to the audience.
In summary, while the core structure of a professional soccer game aligns with the standard 90-minute format, various factors like extra time and extended stoppage time can prolong the match, making it a thrilling experience for both players and fans.
How Long is a World Cup Soccer Game?
Regarding the FIFA World Cup, the game duration adheres to the standard 90-minute format, divided into two 45-minute halves.
However, the dynamics can change if the match ends in a draw. In such cases, an extra period of 30 minutes is added, consisting of two 15-minute halves. A one-minute “drinks break” is also allowed during this extra period.
For example, during the 2023 FIFA World Cup, matches followed this exact timing structure. A penalty shootout determines the winner if the game remains tied even after these 30 minutes.
Therefore, a World Cup soccer game can last up to 120 minutes of gameplay, not including the 15-minute halftime and potential penalty shootouts.
How Long is a Youth Soccer Game?
Youth soccer games have varying lengths depending on the age group. According to the United Soccer Association’s Rule 303, the game lengths are as follows:
- Under-19: Two 45-minute halves
- Under-16: Two 40-minute halves
- Under-14: Two 35-minute halves
- Under-12: Two 30-minute halves
- Under-10: Two 25-minute halves
- Under-8: Four 12-minute quarters
- Under-6: Four 6-minute quarters
For example, an Under-19 game would last 90 minutes of gameplay, similar to a professional match. On the other hand, an Under-6 game would only last for 24 minutes, divided into four 6-minute quarters.
Overtime periods are also specified for some age groups, like two 15-minute halves for Under-19 and none for Under-10. The game length is designed to suit the stamina and skill level of the players in each age group.
|Age Group||Number of Halves/Quarters||Duration of Each Half/Quarter||Total Game Time||Overtime|
|Under-19||2 Halves||45 minutes||90 minutes||Yes|
|Under-16||2 Halves||40 minutes||80 minutes||Yes|
|Under-14||2 Halves||35 minutes||70 minutes||Yes|
|Under-12||2 Halves||30 minutes||60 minutes||No|
|Under-10||2 Halves||25 minutes||50 minutes||No|
|Under-8||4 Quarters||12 minutes||48 minutes||No|
|Under-6||4 Quarters||6 minutes||24 minutes||No|
How Long Do Women’s Soccer Games Last?
Women’s soccer games follow the same time structure as men’s, lasting 90 minutes. There is a 15-minute halftime break between the game’s two 45-minute halves. In tournaments like the Women’s World Cup, if the match ends in a tie after 90 minutes, an additional 30 minutes of extra time are added.
This extra time is split into two 15-minute halves. If the game remains tied even after extra time, a penalty shootout takes place, which can add approximately another 10 minutes to the game’s duration. Therefore, a Women’s World Cup game could last up to 130 minutes, not including the halftime break.
How Many Quarters in Soccer?
Soccer mostly comprises two halves, while sports like basketball are split into quarters. Each half of Soccer lasts 45 minutes, making the total game time 90 minutes. However, there are exceptions.
In youth soccer, especially for age groups under 8, games are often divided into four 12-minute quarters.
Similarly, indoor soccer games are structured into four 15-minute quarters due to the faster pace and smaller playing area. For example, a standard indoor soccer game lasts for 60 minutes, divided into four quarters with short breaks in between.
The rationale is to accommodate the more intense gameplay and the need for frequent rests. But in professional outdoor soccer, the concept of quarters has never been seriously considered as it would disrupt the game’s flow.
|Type of Soccer Game||Number of Quarters||Duration of Each Quarter||Total Game Time|
|Professional Soccer||0 (Two Halves)||N/A||90 minutes|
|Youth Soccer (U-8)||4||12 minutes||48 minutes|
|Indoor Soccer||4||15 minutes||60 minutes|
How Long Does It Take to Watch a Soccer Game?
Watching a soccer game is a time commitment that varies depending on the level of play and whether it’s a regular match or a tournament.
A standard professional soccer game takes around 2 hours to watch from start to finish. This includes 90 minutes of game time, a 15-minute halftime break, and additional stoppage time. In specific cases, like a tied game going into extra time, the duration extends to approximately 2 hours and 32 minutes.
If a penalty shootout is needed, the total time can reach 2 hours and 52 minutes. Therefore, if you plan to watch a game, especially a crucial tournament match, allocating at least 3 hours to enjoy the full experience without interruptions is wise.
Why Does a Soccer Clock Count Up Rather Than Down?
In soccer, the clock counts up from 0:00, marking the start of the game, rather than counting down to zero as in sports like basketball. This unique method of timekeeping is rooted in efficiency. An upward-counting clock allows the match time to run continuously, eliminating the need for frequent stops.
This system simplifies the referee’s job, as they can easily keep track of time lost due to stoppages in play. For example, in North American sports, every stoppage of play brings a stoppage of the clock, requiring multiple referees to monitor every possible pause.
In soccer, the on-field referee can single-handedly manage the time, making it easier to add time at the end of each half and reducing overall confusion.
Are All Soccer Games the Same Length?
The length of a soccer game can vary depending on several factors, such as the level of play, age group, and specific tournament rules. For instance, a standard professional soccer game lasts 90 minutes, divided into two 45-minute halves.
However, youth soccer games have different durations. The United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) specifies that Under-6 games consist of four 6-minute quarters, while Under-19 games are similar to professional matches with two 45-minute halves.
In college soccer, games also last 90 minutes but may have additional rules for timeouts in live-televised games. For example, in the FIFA World Cup 2022, referees were instructed to be more rigorous in adding stoppage time, making those games longer than usual.
Why Soccer Games Are Different Lengths
Soccer games vary in length due to several factors, such as the type of soccer being played and the age of the players. For example, in the United States, youth soccer games can be as short as 24 minutes for U6 leagues, divided into four 6-minute quarters.
On the other hand, professional soccer games last 90 minutes, divided into two 45-minute halves. The variation in game length is designed to make the sport accessible to players of different ages and skill levels.
For instance, a team of six-year-olds can’t be expected to run for 90 minutes, so their games are much shorter.
How Long is a High School Soccer Game?
High school soccer games in the United States usually consist of two 40-minute halves, totalling 80 minutes of play.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) sets the rules for high school soccer, but each state can determine its game length. For example, games in the Midwest and Southwest USA are played in 40-minute halves.
Unlike professional matches, the game clock in high school soccer is a running clock, and the referee only adds additional time if there is a mistake by clock management. Overtime rules can vary; some leagues may add 20-minute overtime periods, while others go straight to penalties, which could take up another 10 minutes.
How Long is a Soccer Game With a Penalty Shootout?
In soccer, penalty shootouts occur when a knockout game is tied at the end of regular and extra time. The process involves both teams selecting five players to take penalties alternatingly (ABAB).
If the score remains tied after these five kicks from each side, the shootout goes into sudden death. For example, Italy and France’s 2006 World Cup final ended in a penalty shootout.
Including the 90 minutes of regular play, 30 minutes of extra time, and approximately 10 minutes for the penalty shootout, the total duration reached around 130 minutes.
A soccer game with a penalty shootout can last up to 172 minutes if the penalties go into sudden death.
How Long is the Break Between Extra Time and Penalties?
After the end of extra time in a soccer match, there is usually a brief interval before the penalty shootout begins. According to FIFA rules, this break lasts for 5 minutes. During this time, players are not allowed to leave the field.
Coaches use this period to strategize and select the five initial players who will take the penalties. For example, in the 2018 World Cup Round of 16 match between Colombia and England, both teams utilized this 5-minute break to regroup and prepare for the penalty shootout.
This short break is crucial for both physical and mental preparation, as the outcome of the penalty shootout can be a game-changer, determining which team advances to the next stage or wins the tournament.
How Many Minutes is a Soccer Game?
A standard soccer game consists of 90 minutes of play, divided into two 45-minute halves. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you add in a 15-minute halftime break and stoppage time—which averages around 3.5 minutes per half—you’re looking at a total of approximately 112 minutes for a regular game.
And if it’s a knockout match that goes into extra time and penalties, the duration can extend even further. So, while the core game is 90 minutes, various factors can stretch it out, making each match a unique experience in terms of length.
Summing Up on How Long is a Soccer Game
Understanding the length of a soccer game involves considering various factors such as the level of play, the players’ age, and the tournament’s specific rules. A standard professional soccer game lasts 90 minutes, but this can extend to 120 minutes or more in knockout stages with extra time and penalties.
Youth soccer games can be as short as 24 minutes for Under-6 leagues. High school games typically last 80 minutes, while women’s soccer matches follow the same 90-minute format as men’s games.
Special events like the World Cup can have extended stoppage time, and penalty shootouts can add another 10 minutes or more.
Overall, the length of a soccer game is not set in stone and can vary widely depending on the circumstances.
Faqs on How Long is a Soccer Game
How Many Hours is a Soccer Game?
A standard soccer game is 90 minutes long, divided into two 45-minute halves with a 15-minute halftime break. When you add stoppage time at the end of each half and the halftime break, the average soccer game takes around 2 hours.
For instance, a Premier League game kicking off at 3 p.m. usually finishes just before 5 p.m. This is much shorter than most US sports like the NFL, where the average game takes 3 hours and 12 minutes.
Why is There Extra Time in Soccer?
Extra time, also known as injury or stoppage time, is added to compensate for time lost due to factors like substitutions, injuries, and penalties. The referee keeps track of this lost time and adds it at the end of each half.
For example, during the 2019 Carabao Cup match between Burton Albion and Bournemouth, 28 minutes were added as stoppage time due to floodlight failures.
What Does FIFA Stand for?
FIFA stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Founded in 1904, it governs many international soccer tournaments, most notably the World Cup.
What is the Start of a Soccer Game Called?
The start of a soccer game is called a “kickoff.” It is the initial play that gets the ball rolling and marks the beginning of the match. The kickoff takes place at the center circle of the soccer field.