What Is a Friendly Match In Soccer? Do They Mean Anything?

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What Is a Friendly Match?

A friendly match is a soccer game not part of a tournament or competition and does not count towards any standings. Teams typically use them to practice and improve their skills or test out new players and formations.

Friendly Match V. Regular Match

In soccer, two types of matches can be played: friendly and regular matches. While both types of matches follow the same general rules and regulations, there are some key differences between the two that players and fans should be aware of.

Here is a look at the main differences between friendly and regular matches in soccer:

Friendly Matches Used as Practice or Exhibition Games: Conversely, regular matches are always competitive, and teams are vying for a win.

Friendly Matches Results Typically Not Recorded: The result of a regular match is always recorded.

Friendly Matches Less Stringent Rules Than Regular Matches: In regular matches, for example, substitutions are only allowed during specific times, and players who receive cards may face disciplinary action.

Shorter In Duration Than Regular Matches: With nothing at stake, teams are not as focused on playing for a win.

Are The Rules The Same?

No Rule Saying That You Must Play By The Book: Many who play friendly matches often make up their rules as they go along. Doing this is perfectly fine as long as everyone involved is aware of the changes and agrees. If you are unsure about something, it is always best to ask before making any significant changes.

Not Always Played on a Level Playing Field: For example, if one team has much more experience, they may want to change the rules to even things out. This is perfectly acceptable as long as both teams agree to the changes.

Not an Official Game: Some basic sportsmanlike conduct rules still need to be followed. Respect for your Opponent and Good Sportsmanship is still important, even in a friendly match. As long as everyone remembers this, there should be no problems.

How To Make The Most Out Of Friendly Matches

Remember that a friendly match is meant to be just that – friendly. This means there should be no pressure to win and no need to take things too seriously. Instead, players should focus on enjoying themselves and trying out new things.

One way is to set up some fun rules before the match starts. For example, players could agree to use their weaker foot only during the game or have a “no tackling” rule. By doing this, players can still challenge themselves and each other without getting too competitive.

It is also important to remember that bonding with teammates and friends is a great opportunity. So make sure to take some time after the game to chat and laugh with everyone involved.

When Do Friendly Matches Happen?

Friendly soccer games are typically played during the preseason or between competitive seasons. These matches allow players to stay sharp and maintain their skills while testing new tactics and strategies.

What Makes Friendly Matches So Important?

1. They’re Great For Trying Out New Things

Friendly matches are the perfect opportunity to experiment with new tactics and strategies. If something doesn’t work out, there’s no harm done; it’s just a friendly, after all. On the other hand, if you stumble upon something that does work well, you can take that knowledge into future matches with more confidence.

2. They Help Players Bond With Each Other

Playing together in matches is a great way for players to get to know each other better and build team unity. Players are more likely to work well together during actual games when they are comfortable with each other on and off the field.

3. They’re Good Practice

Of course, friendly matches are also excellent opportunities to hone your skills and keep your team in shape. The more you play together, the better you understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. And the more competitive the environment, the better prepared you’ll be for when it counts.

4. They Make For Good Entertainment

Sometimes friendly matches can be just as exciting as the real thing. Watching your team go up against another can be thrilling, especially if there’s a bit of history between the two sides. And even if the match isn’t particularly eventful, supporting your team in any way you can is always enjoyable.

Do Goals Count For a Players Stats In a Friendly Match?

Yes, goals in a friendly soccer match count for a player if FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, sanctions them. If it’s not a sanctioned match, it will not count.

Are There Drawbacks/Criticisms Of Friendly Matches? 

The criticisms of friendly soccer matches are many and varied. Some believe the games are too often used as a platform for experimentation rather than as a competitive contest between two equally matched teams, leading to one-sided affairs that are not enjoyable for players or spectators.

Others argue that the commercialization of the game has led to an overabundance of friendlies, which devalues the importance of international fixtures. With so many games taking place, it is difficult for fans to get excited about any one match in particular.

And then there is the issue of player safety. In recent years, stars have sustained several high-profile injuries during friendly matches. This has led to a reduction in games or for them to be played at a lower intensity.


Friendly matches in soccer are a great way for teams to test new players, formations, and strategies. They also allow fans to see their favorite players in action. While the games don’t count for anything in the standings, they can still be exciting to watch.