The length of soccer games varies by the league and by a series of other conditions that can add to or shorten the length of the game.
Soccer games entail two halves. Each half is 45 minutes long, with a 15-minute break between them. However, soccer games rarely last just 105 minutes. Many things can slow down the play of a soccer game.
Soccer players are famous for their celebrations and antics on the field. The longest competitive soccer game could have been in 1922. The match was between Nurnberg and Hamburger in the German Championship. It lasted 189 minutes and resulted in a 2-2 tie before the sun went down.
An interesting fact about soccer is that the clock counts up rather than down. Most sports have the clock running down to zero to signal the end of a period. Since the clock never stops in soccer, having it count up instead of down makes more sense.
Soccer Game Lengths by League
The age of the players and their skill level helps dictate the speed of a game. Also, different levels have different half lengths, and very young players play quarters. While the clock never stops, time is added to compensate for certain circumstances.
So, while a pro-level game is technically 105 minutes, it may easily last 15 to 45 minutes longer. Here are the varying game lengths by league:
Professional Soccer Games
Professional men’s and women’s soccer games have two 45-minute halves. There is a 15-minute halftime break between the halves. If the game is tied, extra time is added. Two 15-minute halves are added with a 5-minute break between them. If the game is still tied after extra time, it goes to a shootout.
Typically, a professional soccer game lasts about one hour and fifty minutes.
Semi-Pro Soccer Games
Semi-Pro soccer is the same as professional men’s and women’s soccer. The games have two 45-minute halves. There is a 15-minute halftime break between the halves. If the game is tied, extra time is added. Two 15-minute halves are added with a 5-minute break between them. If the game is still tied after extra time, it goes to a shootout.
College Soccer Games
College soccer is the same as professional men’s and women’s soccer in terms of game length. The games have two 45-minute halves. There is a 15-minute halftime break between the halves. If the game is tied, extra time is added. Two 15-minute halves are added with a 5-minute break between them. If the game is still tied after extra time, it goes to a shootout.
High School Soccer Games
High School soccer games have two 40-minute halves and a 10-minute break. If games are tied, they may need extra time or a shootout. This can add significant time to the game. If the game is tied, extra time is added. Two 10-minute halves are added with a 5-minute break between them. If the game is still tied after extra time, it goes to a shootout.
Recreational Leagues Soccer Games
In the United States, the age group determines the total game time that will be played.
How Long Are Youth Soccer Games?
Youth soccer games are designated by players’ ages, e.g., U6 means under six years of age.
Six and under soccer players play four 6-minute quarters with a brief rest (up to 5-minutes) between quarters. There is no stoppage time or extra time play.
U7 and U8
Under seven- and eight-year-olds play four 12-minute quarters with 5-minute breaks between) quarters. There is no stoppage time or extra time play.
U9 and U10
This age division plays two 25-minute halves with a 10-minute break between them. There is no stoppage time or extra time play.
U11 and U12
These players play two 30-minute halves with a 10-minute break in between them. There is stoppage time, and extra time consists of two 10-minute halves with a 5-minute break.
U13 and U14
U13 and U14 soccer players play two 35-minute halves with a 15-minute break. There is stoppage time, and extra time consists of two 10-minute halves with a 5-minute break.
U15 and U16
Players in this age group play two 40-minute halves with a 15-minute break. There is stoppage time, and extra time consists of two 15-minute halves with a 5-minute break.
U17 and up
This is the oldest age group for youth recreational leagues. They play two 45-minute halves with a 15-minute break between them. There is stoppage time, and extra time consists of two 15-minute halves with a 5-minute break.
Factors That Can Affect Soccer Game Length
There are a number of factors that contribute to the overall length of a soccer game. Here are four of the most prominent:
If a referee calls a caution, a yellow card is flashed, then a player is warned of their behavior. If a second yellow card caution is issued to the same player, they are ejected from the game. The play pauses as the referee explains the situation to the player.
The opposing team is awarded an indirect free-kick if a player receives a minor offense. Organizing the players takes time and allows the kick to take place.
The opposing team is given a direct free kick in the case of more serious offenses. If the infraction occurred in the penalty box, the free-kick takes place in the penalty box. Play is stopped while players line up, and the kick is made.
A player may face expulsion from the game if a particularly glaring foul occurs. This will cause a red card to be flashed by the referee. Again, play is stopped while the player leaves the field.
There are up to three substitutions allowed in a competitive soccer game. Recreational leagues may allow more. Play is paused as the exiting player leaves and the new player enters the field of play.
This can be for an excessive celebration when a goal is scored or an overreaction to an injury. Soccer players are well known for their acting abilities regarding injuries. In addition, if a team is leading, they may try and control the ball from the opposing team and not advance it down the field.
Legitimate injuries in soccer can be gruesome. The nature of the game exposes legs and heads to serious harm. In this case, the length of time that play is stopped can be substantial. There may be additional breaks to hydrate as well.
Soccer Game Length Video
Soccer Stoppage Time
Before the end of each half, additional time called stoppage time is added to the clock. A fourth official monitors the stoppage time and signals it using a board to the referee. The referee can add time if they feel not enough stoppage time is allotted. The referee cannot subtract time.
Celebrations after scoring a goal are a significant culprit. Fouls and penalties also are tracked for stoppage time. If there is a penalty right at the end of a half, play continues until the penalty is taken. The referee determines the end of the game and blows their whistle.
Soccer Extra Time
Extra time is soccer’s term for overtime. If a score is tied at the end of the game, two 15-minute periods are added, with a 5-minute break in between. If the game is still tied after the extra periods, the game goes to a shootout.
Each team has five penalty shots. Teams alternate taking shots, with different players taking each shot. If, after each team has taken five shots, there still isn’t a winner, Extra Time goes to sudden death. Teams alternate, taking shots until one team scores and wins the game.
FIFA is the governing body for all the national soccer associations. It was established in 1904 and has 209 members. The national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland established the organization.
FIFA stands for Federation Internationale de Football Association. It was created to ensure a continuing governing body for soccer. FIFA establishes rules and regulations that affect all levels of soccer. Its purpose is to foster the sport’s growth and ensure friendly competition.
The World Cup
The official name is the FIFA World Cup. The Cup was established in 1940 and is played every four years. The exceptions were 1942 and 1946 because of World War II. Senior Men’s National Teams that are members of FIFA play in a qualification phase.
The qualification phase has the teams competing for 31 spots in the competition phase. The host team is guaranteed a spot to make up the field of 32. Over approximately one month, the teams compete to see who will win the World Cup.
Teams in the 2022 World Cup
Here are the Teams in the 2022 FIFA World Cup:
Qatar (The host team)
Final Thoughts: How Long is a Soccer Game?
So, that pretty much wraps it up. You know how long a soccer game is for players from 6 to 60. The set times of games vary from 20 to 90 minutes. The actual time it takes to play is much longer.
If you are attending a professional soccer game, you know you will be there for a minimum of an hour and five minutes. But you better schedule for an hour and 45 minutes.
By Tim Moodie
Tim Moodie is a writer, inventor, and creative director based in Minneapolis, MN.
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