Soccer is among the most popular and widely played sports globally, with millions of fans and players of all ages and levels. However, how long is a soccer match? The answer depends on several factors, such as the level of competition, the tournament rules, and the match’s circumstances. In this content, we will explore the different aspects that affect a soccer game’s duration. And provide examples from various leagues and competitions.
A soccer game’s most essential and expected duration is 90 minutes, divided into two halves of 45 minutes each. This is the standard length for professional soccer games, such as those in the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and other major leagues worldwide. Most adult amateur and recreational soccer games also follow the 90-minute regulation time.
The regulation time is based on the “Laws of the Game,” which are the official rules of soccer established by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). According to Law 7, a match lasts for two halves of 45 minutes unless otherwise mutually agreed between the referee and the two participating teams.
Between the two halves of a soccer game, a half-time break usually lasts for 15 minutes. During this interval, the players can rest, hydrate, receive medical attention, and listen to their coach’s instructions and feedback. The half-time break also allows the referee and the assistants to review incidents or decisions during the first half.
The duration of the half-time break may vary depending on the competition rules or the agreement between the referee and the teams. For example, in some youth soccer games, the half-time break may be shorter than 15 minutes. There may be an additional break before extra time or penalties in some cup or knockout games, such as those in the FIFA World Cup or UEFA Champions League.
One of the unique features of soccer is that the clock does not stop when the ball goes out of play or when there is an interruption in the game. This means there may be some time lost during each half that needs to be accounted for by the regulation time. To compensate for this time loss, the referee can add additional minutes at the end of each half, known as stoppage or injury time.
The referee determines the amount of stoppage time based on several factors that may cause delays or interruptions in the game. These include:
- Substitutions: Each substitution typically takes about 30 to 45 seconds to complete.
- Injuries: Each injury may require some medical assessment or treatment time, depending on its severity and location.
- Time wasting: Some players or teams may deliberately waste time to preserve their lead or frustrate their opponents.
- Disciplinary sanctions: Each foul, yellow card, red card, or VAR review may stop or slow the game.
- Goal celebrations: Each goal scored may trigger some celebrations that may take some time to end.
- Other causes: There may be other unforeseen events that may affect the game, such as weather conditions, pitch invasions, technical issues, etc.
The referee usually signals the stoppage time by raising a board on the sideline with a number indicating how many minutes will be added. The referee can always increase but not decrease this number if necessary.
In some soccer games, especially in cup or knockout competitions, a draw at the end of regulation time is unacceptable, and a clear winner must be decided. In these cases, there are different methods to break a tie, such as a replay, a penalty shootout, or extra time.
Extra time is an extension of play that consists of two further periods of 15 minutes each. This means that a game that goes into extra time will last for 120 minutes in total (90 minutes of regulation time plus 30 minutes of extra time). There is also a short break of about 5 minutes between regulation time and extra time and another break of about 1 minute between the two periods of extra time.
The same rules that apply to regulation time also apply to extra time. This means that some stoppage time may be added at the end of each period of extra time as well. If there is still no winner after extra time, another method, such as a penalty shootout, will determine the outcome.
A penalty shootout is one of the most dramatic and exciting ways to decide a soccer game ending in a draw after regulation or extra time. A penalty shootout consists of a series of kicks from the penalty mark, 12 yards (11 meters) away from the goal. Each team takes turns to kick the ball, trying to score more goals than their opponents.
The rules of a penalty shootout are as follows:
- The referee tosses a coin to decide which team kicks first.
- Each team nominates five players to take the initial kicks. These players must be on the field at the end of extra time.
- The teams take turns to kick the ball, alternating between them until each team has taken five kicks or until one team has an unassailable lead.
- The team that scores more goals from their five kicks is the winner.
- If both teams score the same number of goals from their five kicks. The shootout goes into a sudden death stage. Where each team takes one kick at a time until one team scores and the other misses.
- The same players who took the initial kicks must take the kicks in the same order in the sudden death stage unless there is a change due to injury or dismissal.
- The goalkeeper who defended the goal at the end of extra time must remain in goal for the penalty shootout unless they are injured or sent off.
- The referee can use VAR to review incidents or decisions during the penalty shootout.
A penalty shootout can last about 15 minutes for the initial five-kicks stage and about 3 minutes for each pair of kicks in the sudden-death stage.
As we have seen, the duration of a soccer game can vary depending on several factors, such as the level of competition. The rules of the tournament, and the circumstances of the match. However, a soccer game’s most common and standard length is 90 minutes of regulation time plus some stoppage time. We hope this article has helped you understand how long a soccer game is and what factors affect its length. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Thank you for reading, and enjoy watching or playing soccer!