How Long is a Soccer Game: Laws of the Game

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

How long is a soccer game? A regular professional soccer match is made up of two 45 minute halves and a 15 minute halftime break. This means the typical length of the beautiful game is 90 minutes of total game time.

Youth soccer games are usually shorter than adult soccer matches and the length varies between different age groups. A soccer game’s overall length, whether youth, professional or amateur, can vary due to several factors, such as stoppage time and extra time, although all matches follow the same format.

In this guide I will explain everything you need to know about one of the most basic soccer rules of them all, the length of regulation time in soccer.

How Long is a Soccer Game

Standard Soccer Game Duration

A standard soccer match at the adult level lasts 105 minutes total with two 45 minute halves of gameplay and one 15 minute halftime interval break. At the end of each half the referee may add on stoppage time, also known as injury time, which is usually anywhere from one to 10 minutes, to make up for lost time during the match.

So although regulation time is 45 minutes long, the halves will typically last a bit longer due to injury time, however, if there was little to no time wasted there may not be any injury time added, but that is not usually the case.

The 15 minute halftime break is not only important to allow players to rest and recover, but it is also important for the coaches and staff to make substitutions, strategize effectively, and change their tactics and formations if needed.

Each half sees players from opposing sides competing against one another to score goals on their opponent’s goal while simultaneously defending their own. The team with the most goals scored after regulation time wins the match. But what happens when two teams tie after the end of regulation time?

Extra Time and Penalty Shootouts

If two teams tie after the end of regulation time two things can happen depending on the type of match being played, a league or tournament game. If the tie happens during a league game then the match will end in a draw and both teams will get one point each.

If the tie happens during tournament play, where there must be a clear decisive winner, extra time followed potentially by penalty shootouts come into play. If necessary, this can extend the overall match length beyond the 90 minutes

Extra time is different from stoppage time and extra time lasts 30 minutes. Extra time is split into two 15-minute halves, with no golden goal in effect, meaning that even if a team scores during the extra period, play will continue until both halves are finished.

The purpose behind adding these extra time periods is to allow both teams to secure the victory before resorting to a penalty shootout. This means that a penalty shootout occurs only if both teams are tied even after the 30 minutes of extra time, although some competitions may go straight to a penalty shootout without the extra time.

How Long is a Soccer Game

Image by Jannik Skorna

Stoppage Time Allowances

In soccer, stoppage time or injury time is extra time added to each half to compensate for any time lost during the match. This additional time ensures that both teams have an equal opportunity to play for the full 45 minutes in each half.

Here are some of the factors that contribute to added stoppage time.

  • Substitutions: When players are substituted, leaving and entering the field can take up time
  • Injured Players: If a player gets injured during a match, checking the player, treating the player, and waiting for them to be okay also takes up time.
  • Out-of-Bounds scenarios: During out-of-bounds scenarios such as throw-ins, goal kicks, and corner kicks players can waste a lot of time, sometimes on purpose which can lead to disciplinary actions
  • Disciplinary Actions: When players commit fouls and offenses the referees may have to show disciplinary actions such as by showing a yellow or red card, which can take up time too depending on the severity of the foul. Also if there are a lot of free kicks or penalty kicks during a game that can add up to a lot of wasted time.
  • V.A.R. Checks: In professional soccer matches that have V.A.R, or video assistant referee, the use of this technology can also take up time which will be added on to injury time.
  • Goal Celebrations: The minutes after a goal celebration can also count as time wasted

Length Variations for Different Types of Soccer Games

So far we have been discussing the rules for the length of professional soccer games, however it is also important to discuss the variations in length of different types of soccer games.

Youth Soccer Games

The length of youth soccer games varies between every age group and youth soccer leagues, but they will usually follow the following formats.

  • U6 and U8:
    • For the youngest age groups, games are typically played in smaller formats, such as 4v4 or 5v5, and these matches usually last four quarters which are about eight to ten minutes each, with two-minute breaks in between them.
  • U10 and U12:
    • As players progress into older age groups, the match durations increase as well. At the U10 and U12 level, players play two twenty-five-minute halves with a half- time break of about 5-10 minutes.
  • U14 and above:
    • Once children reach their teenage years, they begin playing full-sized eleven-versus-eleven games that follow similar rules found at the high school level. These games will usually last about 30-40 minutes, depending on the league, with a 10 minute half time break.

High School Soccer Games

The most noticeable difference in high school soccer matches is the duration of each half and halftime break. High school matches have shorter halves than professional soccer games, usually around 40 minutes with a 10 minute half time break.

College Soccer Games

College Soccer games are long soccer games, just like at the professional level, and the matches will also last two 45 minute halves with a 15 minute halftime break. Most college soccer games do not use injury time and the first half will end at the 45 minute mark while the second half will end at the 90 minute mark.

Women’s Soccer Games

Women’s soccer games follow the same rules and guidelines as most soccer matches that men play and the length of the match will vary depending on the age and playing level.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a professional soccer game at the World Cup?

A World Cup soccer game is the same as a regular professional soccer game, 90 minutes long.

How long are professional American Football matches compared to professional soccer games?

American Football Matches typically last 3 hours. Almost double the time of a professional soccer game.

What is the sudden death stage in soccer?

The sudden death stage occurs during a penalty shootout, after regulation time, if two teams are tied and there needs to be a clear winner. A penalty shootout consists of five kickers per team, but if the teams are tied even after the five penalty kicks, the game goes into sudden death meaning the team that misses first loses. This format makes up some of the most dramatic moments in all of the beautiful game.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a typical soccer game lasts 90 minutes long, with two 45 minute halves and a 15 minute halftime break.

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