how long is a soccer game

How Long is a Soccer Game?

While a friendly match in your neighborhood might last as long as the players want, professional soccer matches have fixed time limits. 

When you ask how long a soccer game will last, the simple answer is 105 minutes. But this time can get extended depending on the condition of the game. So, the players should learn to remain focused for longer periods.

How Long is a Youth Soccer Game? 

The length of a youth soccer game can vary based on the age group of the players. However, these rules are not an integral aspect of the fundamentals of soccer and can vary in different countries.

The United States Youth Soccer Association and the American Youth Soccer Organization have specified the time limits for youth soccer games. Both specifications are mostly similar with minor differences. The game time goes up with the age of the players.

young boy kicking soccer ball

Under 6

For this age group, US Youth Soccer recommends 4 quarters of 6 minutes each. Overtime is not allowed. 

AYSO recommends two halves of 10 minutes each. The half-time period can be between five to ten minutes for all age groups. However, AYSO guidelines make no recommendations about overtime durations.

Under 8

For this age group, the US Youth Soccer guidelines mention the 4 quarters of 12 minutes each. There is no overtime play. The AYSO rules mention two halves of 20 minutes each for 8U players.

Under 10

Both the US Youth Soccer and AYSO rules suggest two 25-minute halves for players 10 years of age and under. Either body suggests no overtime.

Under 12

For this age group, the US Youth Soccer rules suggest two 30-minute halves. Overtime periods can be two 10-minute halves. The AYSO rules mention the same game time but make no reference to overtime or extra play.

Under 14

The suggested play time for this age group is two 35-minute halves. The US Youth Soccer rules also mention overtime of two 10-minute halves.

Under 16

For 16U players, two 40-minute halves are suggested by both soccer bodies. The US Youth Soccer rules mention two 15-minute halves of overtime play during these games.

Under 19

For 19U players, the US Youth Soccer rules mention two 45-minute halves and an overtime consisting of two 15-minute halves. The AYSO rules are the same.

soccer team knelt down

How Long is a Professional Soccer Game?

A professional soccer game is 90 minutes long and is divided into two 45-minute halves. After the first half, there is a 15-minute halftime break that allows the players to rest. No other breaks are allowed during the game. In theory, the total game time is 105 minutes, but most soccer matches extend beyond that. 

The referees can allow a few minutes of stoppage time at the end of each half. This compensates for the time lost due to various reasons like substitutions, treating injured players, goal celebrations, or disciplinary actions.

The on-field referee determines the amount of time added to the game. In general, the additional time is between 2-5 minutes.

Note, a regular college soccer game or a high school soccer game can end in a tie. However, professional elimination games or knock-out formats need to produce a clear winner. Once the regulation time and stoppage time are over without a result, the extra time is played after a five-minute rest period

The extra time or overtime period lasts for 30 minutes and is divided into two 15-minute periods. There is a one-minute break between the two halves. The referee can add stoppage or injury time to each of the two halves.

If the match remains tied even at the end of the added time, the results are determined by penalty kicks or tie-breaking kicks at the soccer goal.

Here, each team can take five shots at the goal with the goalkeeper defending it, in an alternate order.

The team with the most scores during the shootout wins the game. In case the score is still tied after five shots, the game progresses to a “sudden death” stage. The teams continue taking shots at the goal until only one team scores and is declared the winner.

Truth is, the question “How long is a soccer game?” does not have a definite answer.

Depending on the scenario, the length of a soccer game can go over the 105-minute mark. In fact, the playing time can extend beyond 140 minutes for some games.

How Many Quarters in Soccer?

Professional soccer matches are divided into two halves and there are no quarters, However, some youth soccer leagues may have multiple 10 or 12-minute quarters separated by intervals as per the United States Youth Soccer Association rules.

How Long is Halftime in Soccer? 

Based on the FIFA competition rules, the halftime interval or intermission between two 45-minute halves is a 15-minute break. 

How Long Does It Take to Watch a Soccer Game? 

While the regulation time for a soccer game is 105 minutes, a complete game in the knockout stage takes more time than that. This happens when there are no results after regulation time and the game extends into extra time and penalty shootouts.

girl chasing soccer ball

How Do Extra Periods Work? 

The extra time helps to pick a clear winner if the teams are tied after 90 minutes of standard play. The teams get 30 extra minutes to score goals and produce a result. While extra time play is physically straining for the soccer players, this is an exciting period for the spectators.

Previously, a “golden goal” rule was used in many tournaments, including the 1998 FIFA World Cup. This meant that the first team to score a goal during the extra time was declared the winner. However, the laws of the game have changed and this rule is rarely used in football matches at present.

Why Does a Soccer Clock Count Up Rather Than Down? 

One reason that the soccer clock counts up is to keep the format of the game simple. This allows the game to be played by using a simple timepiece or an analog wristwatch anywhere in the world.

Besides, a game can also have multiple delays or stoppages. For this reason, stoppage time gets added at the end of the game. It is easier for the referee or a soccer coach to keep track of the stoppage time by using a clock that counts up and not down.

In reality, the clock never stops counting up in a professional soccer game. It is the referee’s assistant or the fourth official who keeps track of the stoppage time.

Final Thoughts 

Hope this answers the question- how long is a soccer game?

So, before you head to a soccer field to enjoy a soccer match, make sure that you have enough time to enjoy the whole game if it lasts more than 105 minutes. Keep in mind, the rules regarding time are the same for men's as well as women’s soccer games.

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