If you’re looking for a clear breakdown of soccer match times and periods, then you’ve come to the right place. A soccer game has clear rules on the periods, and how long they can last.
A typical soccer game lasts around 2 hours. Total time consists of 90 minutes of regular time (2x45min), plus the half-time break, plus the few minutes of stoppage time at the end of every half. If overtime is played, that’s additional 30 minutes (2x15min), with potential few more minutes for penalties.
As you can see many factors can prolong the soccer game length.
The regular time for a professional soccer game is set for 90 minutes. When the game goes into overtime, they add 30 (15+15) minutes more. That’s a total of 2 hours, not counting all the breaks and stoppage time. In the end, there could also be penalties. All in all, a soccer game can potentially last for 2 and a half hours.
However, this is not the same for youth leagues or high school matches. Even college (NCAA) total time can differ as they have shorter overtime periods.
How Long is a Professional Soccer Game?
The average professional soccer game (such as in the MLS league or the World Cup match) is about 2 hours long. The entire match time includes 90 minutes of regular time with a 15-minute half-time break, stoppage (injury) time at the end of halves, plus overtime periods and penalty shootouts if played.
This is the same for both men and women, across the world.
This includes the FIFA World Cup games (women and men), championship games, league and cup games – any type of professional soccer game – they are all about 2 hours long total, on average.
Professional soccer game length usually varies, depending on the type of game and competition.
With two 45-minute halves, a professional soccer game gets an additional stoppage time of several minutes at the end of each half, and one 15-minute break between the halves. Unless it’s a special case, the stoppage time is usually 2-5 minutes long.
Stoppage time is roughly proportional to the length of delays in the game.
Sometimes the stoppage time can be very long, due to injuries, substitutions, general time-wasting, or equipment failure that might have happened, so the referee may decide to add a lot of time at the end of every period.
If the overtime is played (knockout match), that’s additional 30 minutes of standard play, with two halves of 15 minutes each. If there are no winners after that, the game enters into a penalty shootout, which usually lasts only a few minutes.
Here is the breakdown of the soccer game length:
- 90 minutes of regular time (two 45-minute parts)
- up to 15 minutes of break between two parts
- 2-5 minutes of added time at the end of every half
- If knockout: additional 30 minutes of overtime (two 15min parts)
- If no winners after overtime: 3-6 minutes of a penalty shootout
Without the overtime (extra time), most soccer games last just under 2 hours.
Factors that affect the length of a soccer game
The length of soccer games depends on these factors:
- Added time, also called stoppage, injury time, or allowance for time lost. This is the time added at the end of each of the half (end of 45 and 90 minutes).
- Overtime (extra time). In any knockout match where the winner to enter the next phase must be decided by the end of the game, such as the knockout stage in FIFA World Cup, extra time is played in two 15-minute periods.
- Penalties that last just for a few minutes, up to 10 or so, for very important matches. Each team gets 5 shots, and the team with the most points wins. If it’s a tie, more shots are added.
- If a penalty kick needs to be taken at the end of regular time, playtime will be extended a bit for the penalty to be taken, in any of the halves.
The length of stoppage time can change due to several factors.
According to IFAB, the stoppage time (Allowance for time lost) is made by the referee in each half for all time lost in that half through:
- assessment and/or removal of injured players
- wasting time
- disciplinary sanctions
- stoppages for drinks (which should not exceed one minute) or other medical reasons permitted by competition rules
- delays relating to VAR ‘checks’ and ‘reviews’
- any other cause, including any significant delay to a restart (e.g. goal celebrations)
How Long is a Soccer Game on TV?
If you’re watching a live soccer game, it’s going to last around 2 hours. However, if there is overtime it could last 30-40 minutes longer. Game time can potentially be even shorter than 90 regular minutes in the case of college games, as college soccer games have shorter overtimes and a golden goal rule.
How Long is a College Soccer Game?
A College soccer match (NCAA) is 90 minutes long, with a 15-minute half-time break, and two 10-minute overtime periods if the game remains a tie. If it’s a tie after 90 minutes, overtime is always played.
Another difference from other leagues is the Golden Goal rule.
NCAA rules differ from the FIFA Laws of the Game, with these two rules being primary examples. The golden goal rule is such a rule, where the team who scores first, wins. This is also called the sudden victory rule. Even though the golden goal rule is used in college soccer in the US, it has been abolished in other parts of the world.
Here are some of the most notable NCAA 2019/2020 rules relating to the length of a college soccer game:
- Duration of the game is two periods of 45 minutes, with half-time interval (break) of 15 minutes, which may be extended in postseason competition or shortened by mutual consent of the coaches and officials
- If the game is a tie after 90 minutes, two 10-minute periods of overtime are played. These overtime periods are “sudden-victory” type, meaning, the first team that scores – wins the game.
- If the game is still tied after the overtime, it’s recorded as a tie (Unless playoff game, where penalty shootout will take place afterwards)
- The interval between the 90-minute period and overtime is 5 minutes, and the interval between the two overtime periods is no longer than 2 minutes.
- for live telecasts, a timeout may be used after the 23rd minute of each half (no longer than 2 minutes)
NCAA is a National Collegiate Athletic Association, which regulates student athletes from 1,268 North American institutions and conferences.
How Long is a Youth Soccer Game?
The number of high school soccer players more than doubled in the last few decades, giving soccer the fastest growth rate among all major U.S. sports.
The length of a soccer game in youth leagues is somewhat different, because youth soccer games last shorter than professional ones, and they differ in some other rules.
Here are the rules from the United States Youth Soccer Association:
|Age Group||Game Length||Overtime Periods||Number of Players|
|17U, 18U & 19U||Two 45-minute halves||Two 15-minute halves||Full-sided|
|15U &16U||Two 40-minute halves||Two 15-minute halves||Full-sided|
|13U &14U||Two 35-minute halves||Two 10-minute halves||Full-sided|
|11U &12U||Two 30-minute halves||Two 10-minute halves||9v9; goalkeepers|
|9U & 10U||Two 25-minute halves||NONE||7v7; goalkeepers|
|6U, 7U & 8U||4–10-minute quarters||NONE||4v4; No goalkeepers|
We can see from the table, the younger the player, the shorter the games.
Another difference in youth soccer games is that the number of players can be different, from the usual 11 players, and the number of substitutions is lower.
They might even have different ball sizes. If you’re looking for some quality soccer balls to buy, here are some quality soccer balls for youth soccer with cushioned cover, machine stitched, with a 2-ply butyl bladder for maximum air retention.
How Long is a High School Soccer Game?
According to NFHS 2019 Soccer Rules, a high school soccer game in the United States is 80 minutes long, consisting of two 40-minute parts (or 4-20 min quarters) with a half-time break of 10 minutes, and up to 20 minutes of overtime, depending on the state.
There is a 5-minute period between the regular 80 minutes and overtime, and 2 minutes between the two overtimes.
During overtime periods, sudden victory rules may be permitted by the state, during the regular season. State high school athletic associations may call for longer overtimes or sudden victory extra time.
If the game is still a tie after the regular 80 minutes, and there is no winner after the overtimes, then FIFA “Kicks from the Penalty Mark” rules apply to determine the winner.
To learn more about the soccer rules, including the comparison between NCAA, HS FED, and IFAB/FIFA rules of 2019, check out this NFHS page.
How Long is a Middle School Soccer Game?
Conforming to the IFAB Laws of the Game, middle school soccer games typically last about 60-70 minutes, (two 30 to 35-minute halves), with a 10-minute break in between halves. If overtime is played, then add two 10-minute long halves.
Some tournaments can have different times, especially if teams agree to set different times themselves.
For example, 5th and 6th grades can have 30-minute long halves, and 7th and 8th grade can have 35-minute long halves. But, this can vary, as well as breaks between halves.
Longest Soccer Game Ever
In the past, some football competitions allowed for successive extra times, before the use of penalty shootouts.
The longest soccer game was probably in 1922 during finals for the German Championship between Hamburger SV and 1.FC Nürnberg, which had to be broken off after 189 minutes at 2-2 because the coming dusk made play impossible.
If we are counting Guinness world records, then the longest soccer game ever was actually a charity marathon, which lasted for 108 hours, and was played in 2016 in the UK.
It was played by Hartbeat United, who split into two teams with 18 players on each team, rotating in when needed. The attempt raised funds for British Heart Foundation and was also used to fund a memorial for the loss of three players, Matt Grimstone, Jacob Schilt, and Matt Chaplain.
The game started at 6 AM on a Thursday and lasted until Monday, and the final score was 1,009 against 872.
Do Soccer Players Know How Much Time is Left?
All players have a solid impression of how much time is left, for several reasons.
They can see both the time on stadiums up until it’s turned off, their coaches might also inform them, even referees will usually tell them if a player asks them. Referees will try to keep the uncertainty and drama and try to motivate players to continue being active, until the end of the game.
It is believed that it’s in the spirit of the game that referees would not be aware of how much time is left, but they always know.
Why Don’t They Stop the Clock in Soccer?
They don’t stop the clock because it would interfere with the flow of the game, and the soccer game would also last too long. Soccer is a fluid game, with continual movements and constant flow throughout the entire game time.
Stopping the clock would mess with that flow. It adds some uncertainty and fun because you never really know how much time are you got left at the end of a half period. All of this adds to the beauty of the game.
Secondly, it could potentially take a very long time to finish the game. The actual average ball playtime is around 50-60 minutes, and if they stopped every time for even the simplest pauses, it could take too long to effectively finish such a game.
For colleges in the US, they do stop the clock during injuries, or any time a referee thinks the other team is wasting time.
What is the Most Stoppage Time Ever Added?
The longest stoppage time ever is 42 minutes on the 2nd of September 2019, in a derby between Shabab Khanyounis and Ittihad Khanyounis in Gaza Strip Premier League (Palestine). The match had to stop because the lighting on the field was not activated.
The maintenance personnel searched for the technician in charge of the lights, but couldn’t find him. Then they searched for the keys to the control room but couldn’t find those either.
The game stopped and it took 42 minutes to turn the lights back on.