How Long Is A Soccer Game? Guidelines, Facts, & Records

Soccer, also known as football, is one of the most played yet toughest sports in the world. It is played between two teams of eleven players each, with the objective of scoring more goals than the other. the duration of the game is also a key aspect. So, do you know how long a soccer game is on different levels?

A game of soccer typically lasts of 90 minutes, equally divided between two halves of 45 minutes each. Stoppage time is added to that 45-minute halves for various reasons. Besides, the provision of extra time and penalty shootout is also there that can further lengthen the soccer game.

Although there is no such strict rules to end the complete game in a specific time frame, rules are there for periods in soccer matches. Let’s dive into the realm of soccer to understand its timings and divisions.

A soccer ball with text content, used as the featured snap of the how long is a match blog.
Source: Wikimedia Commons


Official Guidelines Of FIFA

Content Summery

The official guidelines of FIFA and Law 7 of The FA state that a soccer game should last for two equal periods of 45 minutes each, with a 15-minute break in between.

This means that a standard soccer game lasts for a total of 90 minutes. But stoppage time is added after each of the 45-minute halves. And if extra time is needed, that can also be added by the soccer referees.


Periods In Soccer

Each of the two periods in soccer is called a half, and they are equal in duration. In the main game of soccer, these two halves are the foundation, while stoppage time and extra time can also be added.

During halftime, players take a break to rest and rehydrate, and coaches may make changes to their team’s tactics or personnel.

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Regulation Period

The 90 minutes of a soccer game are known as the regulation period. During this time, the two teams compete to score as many goals as possible.

If the scores are tied at the end of the regulation period, the game may be extended with extra time.

Extra Time

Extra time is played if the game is tied at the end of the regulation period. It consists of two equal periods of 15 minutes each, with a 5-minute break in between.

If the scores are still tied at the end of extra time, the game may be decided by a penalty shootout.

Stoppage Time

Stoppage time, also known as injury time or added time, is the amount of time added to the end of each half of a soccer game. This is to make up for any time lost due to injuries, substitutions, time-wasting, or any other reason.

The decision to add stoppage time is made by the referee, who has the discretion to add as much time as necessary.

The amount of stoppage time added varies from game to game, and it is usually indicated on a board held up by the fourth official. This allows players, soccer coaches, and fans to see how much time is left to play.

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Youth Soccer Games

Youth soccer games usually have shorter periods than adult games. In general, games for players under the age of 12 are divided into four quarters of 10-15 minutes each, with a short break between each quarter.

Games for players aged 12-16 are usually divided into two halves of 35-40 minutes each, with a 10-15 minute break in between.


The Longest Soccer Match Ever

The longest soccer match ever played was between two teams from Uruguay, Club Atlético Peñarol and Club Nacional de Football. The match took place on 30th April 1964 and lasted for a total of 3 hours and 23 minutes, including extra time.

The match was a playoff game to decide the winner of the Uruguayan league, and it ended in a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes. At that time, the Uruguayan league was counted among the best football leagues. And this match was viewed by many soccer fans.

The teams then played extra time, but neither side managed to score. The game was finally decided by a penalty shootout, which Nacional won 1-0.

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Top 5 Lengthiest Soccer Matches Ever Played

Here is a table of the lengthiest soccer matches ever played, including their duration and the reason for the extended play.

Rank Match Duration Reasons For Time Extension
1 Club Atlético Peñarol vs. Club Nacional de Football (1964) 3 hours 23 minutes Penalty shootout needed to decide the winner.
2 Sheffield United vs. Hull City (1934) 3 hours 12 minutes No result on full-time. Match ended in 4-3.
3 Stade Lavallois vs. AS Cherbourg (1985) 3 hours 10 minutes Extra time is needed to decide the winner in a promotion playoff match.
4 FC Schalke 04 vs. FC Koln (1971) 3 hours 5 minutes Tied result in full-time in this DFB-Pokal match that went to extra time.
5 San Lorenzo vs. Estudiantes (2014) 3 hours 4 minutes Full-time of this Copa Libertadores match witnessed a tie.

Note: You might have seen that some of the best English football teams, such as Sheffield United, tend to stretch the match, as they have more endurance. And for this, Premier League matches tend to last longer than other leagues.

Green football field with full of spectators in the stands.
Source: Wikimedia Commons


The Penalty Shootout

If the scores are tied at the end of extra time, the game is usually decided by a penalty shootout. Each team takes turns to take five penalties each, with the team scoring the most goals being declared the winner.

If the scores are still tied after five penalties each, the shootout continues in a sudden-death format until a winner is determined.

A soccer game with a penalty shootout can add an additional 10-15 minutes to the overall duration of the game, depending on how many penalties need to be taken.

Top 5 Lengthiest Penalty Shootouts

Here is a table of the lengthiest penalty shootouts ever played, including the number of penalties taken and the result:

Rank Match Penalties Result
1 FK Jelgava vs. FK Ventspils (2014) 38 FK Ventspils won 16-15
2 Taça de Portugal: Rio Ave vs. Desportivo das Aves (2018) 36 Rio Ave won 14-13
3 Carabao Cup: Northampton Town vs. Milton Keynes Dons (2016) 34 Northampton Town won 10-9
4 English Football League Trophy: Rochdale vs. Stockport County (2007) 32 Rochdale won 6-5
5 UEFA Cup: FK Rad vs. Hapoel Tel Aviv (2004) 28 Hapoel Tel Aviv won 9-8

Read More: How Big Is A Soccer Field? Dimensions And Markings


Final Note

At professional levels, such as FIFA World Cup or UEFA Champions League, matches are a bit long than amateur-level matches. And it mainly happens as the fight is between two world-class and extremely competent teams. However, exceptions are also there in college or school-level soccer.

So, depending on situations and teams, the actual length of a soccer match can largely vary. And that’s all for today. Don’t hesitate to drop your queries and start a conversation with our team in the comment box below.

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