Thursday, 25 Jul 2024

How Long Are World Cup Soccer Games?

If you’re getting ready to make your viewing plans for the 2023 FIFA World Cup, then there’s one very important question that’s probably on your mind: how long is a soccer match? Fortunately, the timing is one of the easiest parts of the game to follow. Matches stick to a specific schedule, without a bunch of interruptions, and the standard time is the same for the World Cup as it is for “regular season” games.

The Duration of a Soccer Match

According to the rules of the game, as laid out by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), a standard soccer match lasts for 90 minutes of gameplay. This is divided into two equal halves of 45 minutes each. Additionally, there is one halftime break that is allowed to last for no more than 15 minutes.

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Extra Time and Tiebreakers

If the game goes into extra time (more on that in a moment), another one-minute “drinks break” is allowed at the “halftime” of the extra period. The timing of both men’s and women’s soccer is the same, and the rules remain the same for the Olympics, for the World Cup, and for “regular” games outside of these major tournaments.

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In “regular” soccer games — outside of tournaments like the Olympics or the World Cup — soccer doesn’t usually go into “overtime.” If a game is tied at the end of the 90 minutes of regular play, it simply ends in a tie. Soccer, unlike many other sports, does allow for games to end in a tie, and the ranking systems have ways to reflect that.

At tournaments where a winner must be determined (i.e. at the World Cup), soccer does have overtime rules. In those cases, if a match is tied at the end of the regulation 90 minutes of gameplay, the game goes into an extra period, or what other sports might call “overtime.” According to current FIFA rules, this extra period consists of two, 15-minute periods added on at the end of regulation time, with the above-mentioned mini-halftime of a one-minute drinks break. If the game is still tied at the end of these 30 minutes of extra play, then the game’s outcome will be determined by a penalty shootout.

Time Allowances and Referee Discretion

While the official gameplay for a given match must be exactly 90 minutes, that doesn’t mean that it’s played straight through with no stops, starts, or resets. According to IFAB’s rules, referees can make allowances for time “lost” through various events in each half. The list includes:

  • Substitutions
  • Injuries
  • Yellow or red card incidents
  • Time-wasting tactics by players
  • Awarding goals

These choices are largely left to the discretion of the referees. The only other main “rule” is that a timekeeping error in the first half cannot be compensated for by adding extra time to the second half. Also worth noting: there are no timeouts for the team to huddle and discuss strategy, as is common in other sports.

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Television Broadcasts and Match Length

Technically, no. Being televised doesn’t really impact the actual length of soccer matches. The rules lay out how long the gameplay lasts and how long halftime lasts, so it’s not as if broadcasters can change those things. Most soccer matches are broadcast straight through, without commercial breaks — which is very different from how some other sports, like American football or baseball, are broadcast.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about the duration of soccer matches:

Q: Are the timing and duration of soccer matches the same for all leagues and tournaments?

A: Yes, the timing and duration of soccer matches are standardized across all leagues and tournaments, including the World Cup.

Q: Can a soccer match end in a tie?

A: Yes, if a game is tied at the end of the regulation 90 minutes of play, it will generally end in a tie. However, in tournaments like the World Cup, extra time and penalty shootouts are used to determine a winner if necessary.

Q: Are there timeouts in soccer?

A: No, soccer does not have timeouts like some other sports. Teams cannot huddle and discuss strategy during the match.

Conclusion

Now that you know the duration of soccer matches, you can plan your viewing schedule for the upcoming FIFA World Cup with confidence. Remember, each game consists of two 45-minute halves, with a 15-minute halftime break. In the event of a tie, extra time and penalty shootouts may be used to determine a winner. Enjoy the beautiful game!

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