How Long Is a Soccer Game: Regulation, Extra Time, and Penalties Explained

 Soccer, or football as it's known in most parts of the world, is the most popular sport on the planet. It's played and watched by millions of people, and its simplicity and universal appeal make it a favorite pastime for all ages. But if you're new to the game or looking to understand it better, one of the most basic questions you might have is: How long is a soccer game? In this article, we will explore the duration of a typical soccer match and the factors that can influence its length.

The Standard Duration

A standard soccer game consists of two halves, each lasting 45 minutes, for a total of 90 minutes of playing time. This is the established norm for professional and international matches, and it's also widely followed in amateur and youth soccer. The game clock runs continuously during each half, stopping only for certain stoppages and delays.

Half-Time Break

In between the two halves, there is a break known as half-time. This break typically lasts for 15 minutes, providing players and teams an opportunity to rest, rehydrate, and discuss strategies. The half-time break is essential not only for the physical well-being of the players but also for the coaches to make adjustments and for fans to grab refreshments.

Injury Time (Added Time)

Soccer games can go slightly beyond the standard 90 minutes, depending on stoppages and delays during play. These extra minutes are referred to as "injury time" or "added time." The referee keeps track of stoppages, including injuries, substitutions, and time-wasting, and adds that time to the end of each half. The exact amount of added time can vary from game to game but typically ranges from 1 to 5 minutes per half. This extra time allows the game to compensate for any periods when the ball is not in play.

Penalty Shootouts

In knockout stages of tournaments or cup competitions, if a game ends in a draw, it can go into extra time. Extra time consists of two periods, each lasting 15 minutes. If the score remains level after extra time, the game may be decided by a penalty shootout, which can further extend the game time.

International Variations

It's important to note that while 90 minutes is the standard duration for most soccer matches, there are variations in different parts of the world. In youth soccer, for instance, games may have shorter halves. Additionally, some amateur leagues might choose to play shorter matches, such as 80 or 70 minutes.

Extra Time

In knockout stages of tournaments or cup competitions, if a game ends in a draw after the standard 90 minutes, it may proceed to extra time. Extra time consists of two periods, each lasting 15 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes. During this time, teams continue to play to determine a winner. If the score remains level after extra time, the match may be decided through a penalty shootout.


In summary, the duration of a soccer game comprises several components. The standard regulation time for a match is 90 minutes, split into two halves of 45 minutes each. Added time, or injury time, compensates for stoppages, and extra time comes into play when a winner must be determined. Penalty shootouts are used as a final tiebreaker if necessary. Understanding these different phases of a soccer match is vital for both players and fans, ensuring that you can follow and enjoy the game to its fullest.

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