Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

How Long Does a Soccer Game Last?

how long is a soccer game

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about the duration of a soccer game compared to other sports, you’re not alone. Soccer matches have their own unique structure and timing that sets them apart from sports like the NFL, NBA, and NHL. In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of how long a soccer game typically lasts and explore the reasons behind its distinctive format.

How Long Is a Standard Soccer Game?

A standard soccer match is 90 minutes long, divided into two halves of 45 minutes each. In between the two halves, there is a 15-minute break. This time structure remains consistent at all levels of the game, from amateur and youth leagues to professional matches in prestigious leagues like the Premier League.

soccer game 90 minutes

This standardized duration applies to both men’s and women’s soccer matches. The agreement on a 90-minute game time was established during a match between London and Sheffield in 1866 and has been followed ever since.

Considering half-time breaks and additional stoppages, the average soccer game takes approximately two hours to complete. For example, a Premier League match starting at 3 pm would typically conclude just before 5 pm. This duration is notably shorter than most American sports, such as the NFL and NBA, which can extend to over three hours.

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What Is Stoppage Time in Soccer?

Stoppage time, also known as injury time or added time, refers to the additional minutes allocated at the end of each half to compensate for any unscheduled stoppages during the game. These stoppages can result from free kicks, fouls, injuries, substitutions, and other factors.

injury time in soccer

The referee and other match officials determine the amount of stoppage time based on the duration of these interruptions. This time is added to the regular 45 minutes of each half. The average soccer match usually has two to five minutes of stoppage time at the end of each period, though it can occasionally be longer, up to 10 or 12 minutes in extreme cases.

Stoppages in play can be caused by various factors such as player substitutions, injuries, time-wasting tactics, VAR checks, disciplinary measures, and goal celebrations. These interruptions are taken into account to ensure a fair and accurate amount of playing time.

What Is Extra Time in Soccer?

In regular league matches, where a draw does not require further resolution, soccer games will not exceed 90 minutes plus stoppage time. However, in cup competitions like the Champions League, Europa League, and World Cup, where a winner must be determined, extra time may be played.

Extra time is an additional 30 minutes divided into two 15-minute halves. It is introduced when the score remains level after the regulation 90 minutes. If the match remains undecided after extra time, a penalty shootout is conducted to determine the winner.

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How Do Penalty Shootouts Work in Soccer?

Penalty shootouts occur when a winner must be determined within the game’s allotted time. Each team takes turns shooting at the goal from the penalty spot, situated 12 yards away. The team that scores the most penalties out of a designated series of five shots wins the shootout.

penalty kicks in soccer

Penalty shootouts can be tense and exciting, with each player’s performance under immense pressure. While a standard shootout involves five penalties for each team, it can end earlier if one team gains an insurmountable lead. On the other hand, exceptional shootouts can extend to include every player on the pitch, including the goalkeeper.

It’s important to note that penalty shootouts are relatively rare, and most soccer matches are resolved within the regular 90 minutes or during extra time.

Do All Soccer Matches Have the Same Length?

Smaller-sided games or competitions with younger players may have shorter match durations to accommodate their stamina and skill levels. However, in regular 11-a-side matches for adults, whether it’s a professional league game, a non-league fixture, an amateur Sunday league match, or a college or university soccer match, the duration remains consistent. These games consist of two 45-minute halves, plus stoppage time.

This level of consistency simplifies following soccer, as it lacks the time variations seen in American sports like baseball and American football.


Q: Do soccer matches always last 90 minutes?
A: Yes, a standard soccer match lasts 90 minutes, divided into two 45-minute halves, with a 15-minute break in between.

Q: Why do soccer matches have stoppage time?
A: Stoppage time is added to compensate for any interruptions during the game, such as injuries, substitutions, and other stoppages. It ensures fairness and allows for the full duration of play.

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Q: What happens if a soccer match ends in a draw?
A: In regular league matches, a draw results in each team gaining a point. However, in cup competitions, extra time and penalty shootouts may be used to determine a winner.

Q: How are penalty shootouts conducted in soccer?
A: In a penalty shootout, each team takes turns shooting penalties from the designated spot. The team that scores the most penalties out of the designated series wins the shootout.


Soccer matches last 90 minutes, divided into two halves of 45 minutes each, with a 15-minute half-time break. Additional stoppage time is incorporated at the end of each half to account for any interruptions during play. In cup competitions, extra time and penalty shootouts may be used to determine a winner if the match ends in a draw. Understanding the timing and structure of soccer games enhances the enjoyment and appreciation of this beautiful and globally beloved sport.

Visit Pesstatsdatabase for more soccer insights and statistics.