How Long Are Soccer Games?

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A lot of people often tune in to soccer games, especially if it’s the World Cup. Soccer games usually take a long time to finish. If you don’t know how soccer plays, you might have wondered why the clock won’t stop for every play. So how long are soccer games that you don’t need to stop time for anything? 

How Long Are Soccer Games?

A regular professional soccer game runs for 90 minutes long. The games are divided into two halves that are each 45 minutes long. However, the clock continues to run even with an injury, substitution, or other things that interrupt the game.  

At the end of each half, referees take note of the interruptions and add time on each half. Referees have absolute authority in a soccer game that they can decide when a game ends. 

Spectators watch a long series of soccer games

Different soccer leagues use different time duration in their games. So depending on what game you’re watching, a soccer game may finish earlier or later than 90 minutes. 

Youth Soccer Games

Youth soccer game time depends on the age group and the organizers of the match. Most soccer game matches follow the United States Youth Soccer Association regulations, which use 7 different game lengths:

  • U6 – 6-minute quarters
  • U8 – 12-minute quarters
  • U10 – 25-minute halves 
  • U11 and U12 – 30-minute halves
  • U13 and U14 – 35-minute halves
  • U15 and U16 – 40-minute halves
  • U17, U18, and U19 – 45-minute halves

While other schools or organizations may implement their own game times, most of them follow the United States Youth Soccer Association.

Middle-School Soccer Game

Most middle-school soccer games follow game time decided by the school itself especially if they’re not sanctioned by USYSA. Most middle-school soccer games follow either 30 or 35-minute halves.

High-School Soccer Game

Most high school soccer games follow the regulations by the National Federation of High School Associations. However, games may vary from state to state. Most games follow two halves of 40 minutes for their games. 

NCAA rules follow similarly to FIFA. Their games follow two 45 minute halves.  

Professional Soccer Games

Most professional soccer games follow the International Football Association Board rules. They also determine how long women’s soccer games go. Major League Soccer (MLS) and National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) also follow IFAB’s game time of 45 minutes per half. 

Extra Time in Soccer

We mentioned earlier that referees have absolute authority especially when it comes to time. Soccer referees grant stoppage time every time a quarter or half is ending. Soccer games can even take longer than 90 minutes depending on the decision of the referee. 

Kids at a youth soccer game

Stoppage Time

Referees grant extra time after every end of a quarter or half. Referees determine the extra time depending on how the game goes. That’s why you see different extra time in a variety of games.

Referees tend to add a lot of extra time if a stoppage of play occurred in the game. For example, the play stops to check an injured player’s condition, and if they should remove the injured player from the playing field. The referee may decide to add 10 more minutes because of that. 

A soccer game can go over 90 minutes depending on the circumstances. There was once a game where a broken leg and dislocated shoulder injury that the referee decided to extend the game for an extra 13 minutes. However, another player had a concussion so the referee had to add an additional 10 minutes to the game. 

Tie Game

You’ll often see scenarios where the game is tied at the end of regulation time and even with the additional time. Depending on the league rules, different things can happen. You typically see 3 outcomes when a game is tied:

FIFA World Cup sometimes adds extra periods if the game is tied since some games are single elimination. FIFA usually adds 2 periods of 15 minutes each to decide a winner. If the game is still tied up after the 2 extra periods, the game goes into penalty kicks. 

Penalty Kicks

Each team gets 5 shots on goal, with each team taking a shot alternately. Each shot should be taken by a different player. No player can shoot more than once. The team with the most points after 5 shots wins the game. If the score is tied, more shots can be added to the penalty. 

Kids lining up before a soccer match

Related Questions

Before we wrap up this article, we want to address some of the most common questions we receive related to the duration of soccer games.

How Long Do Soccer Games Usually Last on TV?

A regular soccer game can span a maximum total of an hour and 50 minutes. Soccer games have an average of 19 commercials that totals to 19 minutes of airtime. This adds to the time a soccer match ends. 

Major League Soccer matches can last for around two hours. MLS matches have a 15 minutes halftime break running 45 minutes each half. The game can even go on even with rain as long as officials deem the field condition safe. 

Friendlies and matches in other competitions may have different game times. For example, a FIFA World Cup match may run longer than 2 hours because of 2 extra periods of time. 

Does the Clock Ever Stop in Soccer?

The clock in a soccer game only stops at halftime. In professional games, the clock runs for a full 45 minutes for each half with the added extra time and it never stops for anything even if the play stops. 

How Do Soccer Referees Decide Extra Time?

When there’s a few minutes left in regulation, the referee informs the fourth official of how much time they decided to add. The fourth official writes it on a sign to let players, coaches, and viewers know how much extra time is added.

Referees keep track of how much time has gone on substitutions, injuries, treating injuries, and any other play stopping incidents. That’s why you see referees with watches that lets them record the duration of these instances.

What is the Longest Soccer Game in History?

The longest game happened when a Gaza referee decided to add 42 minutes of extra time. The match was between Shabab Khanyounis and Ittihad Khanyounis. The match was stopped because the lighting on the field was not functioning. 

The repair took longer than usual and it took 42 minutes to repair the lights. The game had three minutes left until players could go back to the field safely. This prompted the referee to add 42 minutes of extra time. What’s worse is that the score was 0 – 0 to fans’ disappointment.  

Conclusion

If you’re planning to watch a soccer game, be prepared to sit and watch for at least 90 minutes. If you’re watching your kids play then it might be shorter than that. It’s amazing how athletes can run on a soccer field for 90 minutes. 

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.