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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.
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
I 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.
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.
|A decisive match ends in a draw||Overtime period (+30 minutes)|
|A regular match ends in a draw||The match ends|
|A decisive match ends in a draw after an overtime period||Penalty kicks|
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:
- The game ends and both teams get a draw.
- The game goes into an overtime period.
- The game goes into penalty kicks.
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.
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.
Here are some frequently asked questions about how long soccer games are.
How Long Do Soccer Games Usually Last on TV?
A standard soccer game can go up to an hour and 50 minutes. Soccer games typically contain 19 ads, totaling 19 minutes of airtime. This extends the length of a televised soccer match.
Though, friendlies and other competition matches may have different timings. A FIFA World Cup match, for example, maybe more than 2 hours due to two extra periods of play.
How Do Soccer Referees Decide Extra Time?
When the match is about to end, the referee tells the fourth official how much time they have chosen to add. The fourth official then writes it on a sign to inform players, coaches, and viewers of the amount of additional time.
This is why Referees always keep account of the amount of time spent on substitutions, injuries, treating injuries, and other play-stopping situations. Nowadays, this rule has gotten much more strict in order to prevent players from wasting time.
What is the Longest Soccer Game in History?
The longest game in history happened when a referee decided to add 42 minutes of extra time. The game was a fixture featuring Shabab Khanyounis and Ittihad Khanyounis. The reason for the extra time was that the game was called off because the lights on the field went out.
Then, the maintenance took 42 minutes to repair the lights, as a result, the referee decided to add those 42 minutes of extra time. What was disappointing was that the score ended up 0 – 0, even after all of the extra time.
If you’re planning to watch a soccer game, be prepared to sit and watch for at least 90 minutes. If you’re recording your kid’s game then it might be shorter than that. It’s amazing how athletes can run on a soccer field for 90 minutes.