Soccer is the most popular sport around the world, and nobody can argue with that. Millions of people are watching games split between different leagues like the World Cup and the Euro. Even so, there are a lot of people that ask how long is the usual game of soccer. This article will give you the answer to this.
So how long is the usual soccer game?
The usual soccer game is divided into two 45-minute halves and lasts a total of 90 minutes, without including breaks and extra time. Along with the regular time, the game is usually prolonged by 5 to 10 minutes of extra time, depending on how much it was interrupted during the official 90 minutes.
Most tournaments will also have an extra time needed to be played in order to settle the winner. When it comes to smaller age leagues, these will usually have rules requiring plays of under 90 minutes and can also play innings.
How long do professional soccer games last?
When talking about the highest level of this sport, professional teams all around the world are required to follow the official rules of the game, out of which the seventh rule talks about the timing of each match. This rule talks about matches being made of two equal halves of 45 minutes each.
This means that the usual soccer game you will find on your TV will last 90 minutes. The rounds themselves are played continuously, meaning that the referee won’t stop the clog even when the ball will go out of play, as opposed to other games that will stop counting the time while the ball is outside of the court.
The two halves are split by a 15-minute break and the players will use this time to talk about tactics with their coach, get encouragement and advice, get in contact with the needed fluids, and of course, rest. This time is known in soccer as halftime.
Depending on how smoothly the game has been played, at the end of every 45-minute half, the referee can decide to add some ‘extra time’. This is also called stoppage time or injury time and is used as a way of making up for big chunks of time lost throughout the match.
Common reasons for adding extra time are:
- Cooling break or water drinking break if required by players.
- Any VAR checks required by the referee that end up causing delays.
- Disciplinary measures that get prolonged, like the game continuing to be stopped due to a foul, for example.
- Intentional waste of time, usually done by the leading team.
- Players needed to be taken out of the field and evaluated after a stronger injury.
- All other causes of time-wasting, like celebrations after an unexpected goal.
A fourth referee will usually signal this time using a sideboard. This will tell fans, coaches, and players how much time will have to be played additionally.
During this added time, the umpire won’t be able to reduce the left time, although, depending on the dynamics of the game, they will be able to add time to the added time. If time is required at the end of the game for a penalty kick to be taken, this period will be extended until this is done. The end of the game will be signaled by the referee blowing their whistle.
Penalties in the rules of extra time
Tournament games can plain and simply end in a tie. This isn’t the case when it comes to some knockout or cup matches where a clear winner will need to be settled. This means that although a game can end with a draw after 90 minutes, it can require a replay to be played at a later date or it can go directly into a penalty shoot-out. Another possibility is that the tie will go into an extra time period instead.
This is when a new set of rules get into play, where the next two halves played will only be 15 minutes long and will have a shorter break between them, of only 5 minutes.
If at the end of this added time the match will still be considered tied, then the teams will determine the winner by using a penalty shootout, the winning team of this shootout being the one advancing to the next round. Each team will take 5 penalties, each penalty being taken by a different player. The team that gets the most points from its five kicks will win the game.
If after these 10 penalty kicks the teams are still at a tie, they will go into a sudden-death situation where when a player scores and the other one misses, the scoring team will be considered the winner.
There are also soccer games that have both penalty kicks and extra time to settle the winner.
What about high school and college football games? How much do those last?
The National College Athletes Association, also known as the NCAA, has rules that stipulate the exact length of a college soccer game, and these are basically in accordance with the seventh rule of soccer, stating that a game will consist of two periods of 45 minutes each.
According to Rule 7, when the game ends in a tie, the following rules will have to be followed:
- Even if it means prolonging the game, penalties will always be taken. The time of play will be extended to allow for the penalty kick to be taken regardless of whether this free kick is taken inside injury time or within regulation time.
- The teams will have to play for two extra periods of 10 minutes each. These extra times will be under a different rule, the first team to score within any of these two periods being declared the winner of the match.
- Before starting this part of the game, a coin toss will be called by the away team, and whoever wins this toss will get to choose whether it starts with the ball or chooses its side of the field.
- If the game gets into the second part of the additional time, the teams will have to switch ends of the pitch.
- The soccer game can still be declared a draw if at the end of the extra time the teams are still tied.
- After any additional time has ended, regular-season games can end with a draw. Overtime will be played in the case of NCAA tournament games, games in conference tournaments, or other post-season games.
What about overtime?
Overtime will only be played when a winner will need to be declared. The soccer match can still end tied after the extra time ends. This is when the game will have to go into a penalty shootout which will determine the winner.
It terms of high school games, the teams will have to follow the rules administered by the state, which most of the time will follow the National League of State High School Associations.
A soccer game in high school leagues will be shorter than one played in college leagues, lasting only 80 minutes, split into two 40-minute halves of play. Although these games also have a halftime break between the halves, this will only be 10 minutes in length and can even be shortened more if the coaches and referees agree to reduce it.
What about youth soccer games? How long do they last?
Games within the youth soccer leagues will usually follow a different set of rules. Some examples are that the number of available substitutions will be higher than in the case of normal games and the number of players in each team will be different than the usual 11.
The age bracket will basically set the game time. This is how the United States Youth Soccer Association instructs on this:
- Under 17, Under 18, and Under 19: Two 45-minute halves. Followed by two 15-minute halves of Extra Time.
- Under 15 & Under 16: Two 40-minute halves. Followed by two 15-minute halves of Additional Time.
- Under 13 & Under 14: Two 35-minute halves. Followed by two 10-minute halves of Extra Time.
- Under 11 & Under 12: Two 30-minute halves. Followed by two 10-minute halves of Added Time.
- Under 10: Two 25-minute halves.
- Under 8: Four rounds of 12 minutes.
- Under 6: Four quarters 6 minutes.
<Any added time to take into account?
Extra time will only be played when a winner will have to be declared but the match ends in a draw. Some great examples are either championship games or multi-team tournaments, where overtime will be used to determine the team that goes ahead.
If a team can be declared a winner due to scoring enough goals in the first overtime, the second extra time will have no reason to be played, so the game will be over.
When it comes to smaller player leagues like 10U, matches will not go into extra time and will end when the allotted time ends. This is because younger age brackets will focus on teamwork, discipline, passing, dribbling, and general development, as opposed to just winning the game.
This article should have given you the answer to how long is a soccer match. If you don’t have the time to read through what I`ve written, then you should know that most of the time, a soccer game will last 90 minutes.