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Can Soccer Games Be Cancelled For Rain?

Soccer is one of the most resilient sports around; it’s also one of the most accessible; all you need is a ball and somewhere flat to play it. From kids playing soccer in a car park to the biggest soccer stadiums in the world, everyone can play the sport of kings. 

A soccer game rarely gets called off due to the weather; sometimes, it’s even more fun to slide around in the mud, making a sliding tackle more enjoyable. Playing in the rain is fine, and even when it snows, as long as the ball doesn’t vanish into a foot of snow, play will continue. 

There’s an orange soccer ball for when the white stuff falls, and players are expected to keep playing in the rain. That isn’t to say that the weather is wholly ignored; there are times when soccer games have to be canceled due to safety concerns. 

Sometimes, the weather just conspires against us, and today, we’re going to look at why soccer games can get canceled due to rain. Unlike FIFA on the Xbox or PS5, when mother nature decides a game will be called off, the game is canceled, regardless of the disruption. 

Are Games Ever Called Off Due To Rain? 

There are many times during a season that soccer games can be canceled due to the rain, and the club’s location, the stadium’s condition, and the time of year can impact the chances.

A game will usually go ahead if the pitch isn’t affected, especially by standing water. If the fans can hack it standing in the stands, the players certainly can. 

While it’s less common for games to be called off in summer, it’s not unheard of for a freak summer storm to have an impact on a pitch, causing safety concerns.

The better the condition of the pitch, the better it can handle the rain. Most elite stadiums have underground drainage to prevent waterlogged pitches; canceling a game is always a last resort. 

In winter, games are more prone to be canceled due to a frozen pitch; snow is rarely the culprit, as snow can be shoveled off the pitch to allow games to resume.

It’s when the ground is so frozen that players, often worth millions of dollars, risk injury. Clubs will only cancel a game due to safety concerns, whether for players on the pitch or for fans traveling to games. 

Location, location, location, as they say; there’s a considerable difference between weather conditions in the Kenyan Premier League and the English Premier League. Two inches of rain in

London might be considered alarming, causing safety stewards to worry about the game being canceled; in Kenya, two inches of rain in an hour could be regarded as a light shower. 

A resident of Miami might visit Alaska for a vacation and be absolutely convinced they’re about to freeze to death, while a local would be darting from shade to shade, worrying about sunburn and heatstroke. It’s all relative; the better prepared for the rain, the less chance there is of a soccer game being canceled. 

Player & Fan Safety 

There are three main reasons why rain can cause a soccer game to be canceled:

  • Player safety
  • Fan safety
  • Protecting the pitch from further damage

The most important is, of course, player and fan safety. 

Officials will cancel a game if the weather gets to a point where traveling to the game is risky for fans. If the fans are already on their way, or the weather takes a turn for the worse just before kick-off, the officials then look at the pitch.

If drainage isn’t available, or the rain is torrential, and the pitch can’t cope, there’s a risk that players could become injured. 

Sliding in mud can be great fun for a player; they can start their sliding tackle early and glide along the muddy ground; when it’s standing water, the player can stop suddenly as the water stops their movement. 

Players are a commodity that clubs won’t risk if possible. A broken leg because someone’s mistimed a tackle because of a waterlogged pitch is avoidable.

National associations like the FA don’t like games to be canceled as it affects the league fixtures. Still, safety concerns override the need to reschedule a soccer match. 

When Are Games Called Off? 

Clubs and league organizers constantly communicate with weather monitoring agencies and are always aware of potential weather issues affecting the soccer schedule. If a game looks like being called off, it’s preferred that it’s called off as soon as possible. 

Nothing irritates fans more than paying for tickets, spending time and money traveling to the game, only to find out that the match has been postponed.

Unless the weather takes a dramatic turn late in the day, most games are canceled the morning of the game to allow fans time to cancel their travel plans. 

It’s not unheard of for games to be called off mid-game due to the rain becoming so heavy that visibility is lost. It’s uncommon but has been known to happen.

More common is seeing a game being canceled because the pitch can’t deal with the sudden deluge, making play dangerous.

Players running for a ball that suddenly stops dead when it becomes bogged down in water have to readjust quickly, and players heading in for a tackle can make mistakes as the natural movement of their opponent suddenly changes.

It’s a recipe for a bad accident, and the referee has to make the decision to play on or abandon the game. 

The Cost Of Calling A Game Off 

As well as the hassle of having to reschedule a game that has been canceled due to rain, often meaning that a team then has to play two games in a week to catch up, the other issue with canceling the match is the cost. 

From refunding tickets, food that’s been prepared in the hospitality areas being ruined, and the cost of lighting and staffing the stadium, the cost of not playing the match can soon mount up.

TV revenue could be lost, too, if the game was going to be beamed live to customers, and there’s always the risk that the rescheduled game might not be on TV. 

TV revenue is massive for teams, so the loss of income is felt keenly. Training schedules are thrown into disarray; the players had trained for this game and had planned their tactics accordingly. Suddenly, their routine is thrown, and they may not have another game for several days. 

The fans are also not exempt from the costs; from travel costs to time lost, the fans invest a lot of their time and income into supporting their clubs.

It’s no one’s fault, of course, the weather can’t be controlled, but it’s a frustration that both fans and clubs would rather avoid. It’s why canceling a game at all is the very last resort. 

Stadium Stewards & Groundskeepers 

Clubs employ many staffs on match days, though it’s the job of stewards and groundskeepers to keep the crowds and pitch safe.

The groundskeeper has the job of ensuring the pitch is in perfect condition for match days, which means keeping the pitch healthy and ensuring proper drainage. 

When rain looks like threatening a game, the groundskeeper and their staff are the first ones onto the pitch. You may have seen teams of officials running large brooms across a waterlogged pitch in an attempt to sweep the top water from the pitch.

If the water can be cleared from the pitch and the underground drainage is of high quality, it’s not impossible that the game can be played.


Soccer games rarely get canceled due to rain, especially at the very top level; you’re much more likely to see a game postponed due to rain at the lower levels of the soccer pyramid simply due to the lack of facilities.

With improved drainage, stadiums that are more enclosed or have a retractable roof rarely get caught out by the weather. 

In the UK, several soccer stadiums are located close to rivers, and at times, flooding due to swollen rivers has caused games to be abandoned.

While we can attribute the river’s flooding to the excess rainfall, it’s a stretch of the imagination to say that rain was the reason a game was abandoned. 

Even when games are called off due to rain, fans are usually much better prepared; social media, news outlets, and 24/7 sports channels keep fans up to date much better in the 21st century.

Pre-internet fans would have turned up to the stadium to find it had been postponed, so at least with the soccer world much more interconnected, surprises are rare.