How Long Is A Game Of Soccer?

football, ball, support-1275123.jpg

How Long is a Soccer Game?

One of the first things that stand out to the casual fan watching a soccer match is that the game clock starts at 0 and runs upward. This seems unusual and confusing to those familiar with clocks running back to 0 as it does in the NFL, NBA, and the NHL.

Unlike most major team sports, the clock in soccer doesn’t stop even if the game is delayed due to injuries. The clock stops when injuries occur in football, basketball, and hockey.

How long does a soccer game last? Why does the clock run upward? How many actual minutes of action are there? Is there a difference between the duration of play for professional and amateur games? Let’s examine these questions.

How Long is a Soccer Match in Game Minutes?

Professional men’s and women’s games last 90 minutes and consist of two 45-minute halves. The intermission between halves lasts 15 minutes.

In comparison, NHL games are 60 minutes of gameplay divided into three periods. NFL games are also 60 minutes divided into four quarters, while NBA games are 48 minutes divided into four quarters.

Why are Professional Games 90 Minutes of Game Time?

Long before there were lights, soccer games were held during the day, and teams continued playing games until sunset. The first time a clock was used for a game was in 1886 when Sheffield squared off against London in a 90-minute game, which became the standard duration for games.

The 90-minute soccer game became official in 1897, and the International Football Association Board (IFAB), founded in 1886, adopted the rule.

How Do Extra Periods Work?

Soccer matches can end in a tie, but those in World Cup competitions or decide a championship do not. If games are still deadlocked after 90 minutes of hard-fought competition, the game proceeds into two 15- minute extra periods.

Unlike hockey, where the first team that scores in the extra time wins, soccer matches continue until the 30 additional minutes have been played, regardless of how many extra goals are scored.

A best-of-five shootout will decide the outcome if the game is still tied after the extra periods.

Why Do Soccer Games Go Beyond 90 Minutes of Game Clock?

Unlike in other sports governed by a clock, the clock in soccer keeps running even during a stoppage of play. A referee can add additional time to the end of each half due to stoppages caused by injuries that require a player to leave the field of play, post-goal celebrations, penalties, and balls going out of bounds.

How Long Does it Take to Watch a Soccer Match?

Despite the longer game clock in soccer than in other team sports, a soccer match takes about two hours to complete compared to 2 and a half to 3 hours or more for NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB. One reason for the extra time, despite only 90 minutes of game time and 15 minutes at halftime, is the stoppages in action.

Such things that increase the time to watch a match include injuries, penalties, balls going out of bounds, and post-goal celebrations. Also, consider the scenario in which the game is tied after 90 minutes and heads into overtime or a shootout, including penalty kicks.

Does the Additional Time Only Get Added to the Second Half?

No, it is not the case in soccer that the additional time only gets added to the second half. If the stoppage occurs in the first half, it gets added to that period.

Therefore, you might see a clock reach 48, 49, or even 50 minutes before the first half ends. The clock will start at the 45-minute mark at the beginning of the second half.

Why Does the Soccer Clock Count up Instead of Down?

To keep game disruptions at a minimum, the clock in soccer continues to count upward. It doesn’t matter how many times a ball is thrown back onto the field, how many goals, how many fouls, injuries, out-of-bounds, etc., the clock keeps ticking. Therefore, counting backward doesn’t make sense since the extra time would put the clock into negative numbers.

Keeping the clock moving also gives the referee more control of the game. The referee will track the amount of time that should be added to the clock at the end of each half. It’s easier, in theory, than the referee constantly stopping their watch and restarting the game clock after each disruption in gameplay.

Are There Timeouts During a Soccer Match?

Teams can make substitutions, but there are no timeouts during a match. Typically, teams can make three substitutions during a professional game. This has been extended to five substitutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Typically, any substations made will be made during stoppages of play.

How Long are Youth Soccer Games?

This depends on the age group, but the duration of play increases as kids get older. Between 8 and 10 years of age, the games consist of two 25-minute halves. For players under eight years of age, there are four 12-minute quarters.

Kids between the ages of 10 and 12 have two 30-minute halves with two 10-minute periods should the game go overtime. Players between the ages of 12 and 14 will play two 35-minute halves with two 10-minute periods should the game go to overtime.

Kids between 14 and 16 will play two 40-minute halves with two 15-minute overtime periods if needed. Players in the 16- to 18-year-old range play two 45-minute halves with 15 minutes in overtime.

How Long is a Typical High School Soccer Game?

Soccer games at the high school level consist of 80 minutes over two 40-minute periods. There is also a ten-minute intermission between halves. This time can be reduced if agreed upon by both teams. Therefore, a match will take less time for a high school game than for those at the college and professional levels.

How Long is a College Soccer Game?

The clock is the same for college matches as for professional matches. There are two halves of 45 minutes each, with an intermission of 15 minutes between halves.

The difference is that by the Golden Goal Rule, games with no goals scored at the end of 90 minutes will result in a tie. The overtime period will follow if both teams have scored and the game is tied after 90 minutes.

What To Bring To a Soccer Game?

What should you bring to a soccer game? The answer to this question may vary whether you are playing or spectating. If you are playing in the game, it is important to bring all necessary gear, including cleats, shin guards, and a water bottle. You may also want to bring snacks and a change of clothes if you have them.

If you are just spectating, however, you can get away with bringing only a few things: a water bottle, snacks, and a comfortable chair or blanket to sit on. Either way, it is essential to dress for the weather conditions and wear sunscreen if it is sunny.


Before 1886, games were played until sunset. Since the Laws of the Game rule, 90-minute professional matches have been played. That hasn’t changed to this day, 136 years since the rule. 

Professional games will typically take more than two hours to complete due to intermission, stoppages for various reasons, and overtime periods. Soccer is unique because the game clock never stops, begins at 0, and counts upward.

Even with the extra time, games typically last shorter than other timed professional leagues, such as NFL, NBA, and NHL. Not governed by a clock, games in Major League Baseball often take over three hours to complete.