Soccer receives a lot of praise for being one of the most predictable sports as far as length is concerned. While major sports such as football, basketball, baseball, hockey, cricket, and more all have many stoppages that slow the game down, soccer keeps things moving.
How long do soccer games last? Almost every regulation soccer match will last a total of about two hours from the first to the final whistle. A match consists of two halves of 45 minutes each, stoppage time, and halftime. In a tournament or knockout situation, soccer games can last longer with extra time and potentially penalty kicks to determine a winner.
What To Expect With a Typical Soccer Game
Whether it is high school, college, or professional soccer, the format is pretty much the same. The match starts with the first half, which is 45 minutes long. Once the clock starts, it does not stop for the entire half. It is up to the head referee to decide on how much stoppage time is added at the end of the half.
Generally speaking, it usually is anywhere from one minute long, to five minutes long. This number is based on the number of times play stopped during the half.
The referee will signal how much stoppage time is added at the end of each half, and there is no break. The extra time links to the 45 minutes already played, meaning there could be as much as 50 total minutes of playtime.
Once the head referee signals the end of the first half, players have 15 minutes for halftime. It is not an exact amount of time in most leagues, so there could be some slight variance before play resumes. Most games that are being broadcast will try to stay on time as much as possible, to appease the networks and keep everything lined up.
Once play resumes, the second half follows the same format as the first. With stoppage time in either half, the head referee does not focus so much on the exact time. Instead, the focus is on whenever the final attack for a goal is over. For example, if stoppage time was estimated at three minutes, and an attacking team is primed for a shot on goal, the referee will allow it to play out for the last moments in the game.
Regular season soccer matches are almost always played without extra time. If the two teams are tied, it simply goes down as a tie. However, this does not work if a winner is needed to move on in a tournament or knockout stage. When that is necessary, the extra time comes in to play.
While this as to the length of a soccer match, it is only by a set amount. The two teams will play a total of 30 minutes, split into two halves. There is a slight break in between the two halves of extra time, but it is usually only a minute or two.
If the score is still tied, a penalty shootout is a final way to determine a winner. Some people view this as controversial, as penalties are so much different than actually playing the game. In this scenario, each team picks five players to take a penalty kick in an attempt to outscore the opponent. If the two teams are tied after five penalty kicks, it continues until there is a winner.
Does The Clock In Soccer Ever Stop?
Any sport that uses a clock tends to stop it continually throughout the game, but soccer is different. The clock never stops, even if there is a huge delay due to injury, replay, or something else. Instead of stopping the match, the time is made up with extra time.
Some might think that a reduced game is not fair, but this is how soccer has been played forever. Some matches end with quite a bit less than 90 minutes of actual action, but referees try to get things as accurate as possible by using extra time.
Other Soccer Game Lengths
For younger soccer players, most games do not include 90 minutes of playing time. It usually is a scale depending on the age group. For example, in the United States, Under-8 players only play a total of 48 minutes. It jumps up to 50 minutes for Under-10, 60 minutes for Under-12, and gradually moving up until full matches are played at the high school level and beyond.
With shorter game lengths and smaller fields, it allows for younger soccer players to learn the game without becoming exhausted. Most of the rosters for these younger teams are also pretty low, so there is not an opportunity to have many substitutions.
Soccer Game Length VS Other Sports
Soccer stays true to its roots in keeping matches moving at a pretty fast pace. There are no commercial breaks, forcing teams to use advertising at stadiums and on the television screen instead. It is the most predictable major team sport as far as length is concerned.
Another benefit to keeping everything on schedule is that broadcast companies can put matches back-to-back without running too much risk of one match not ending in time. When looking at sports such as baseball or tennis that do not have a clock, companies do not know whether it will last two hours or six hours. It becomes a logistical nightmare to figure out a way to keep our fans happy.
Soccer fans have a much more predictable amount of time when they want to watch the sport. Live sports can sometimes disrupt a person’s schedule, but not if it nicely fits into a two-hour window. Worldwide fans find it much easier to break in the middle of the day if they know it is only going to be two hours to watch an important match.