How Long Are Soccer Matches? Understanding Regulation and Overtime

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Soccer, also known as football, is the most popular sport globally, captivating millions of fans with its captivating gameplay and intense matches. The duration of soccer matches is a fundamental aspect of the game, governing the time allocated for each fixture and the determination of winners. This article delves into the intricate details of soccer match duration, exploring the regulation time, overtime, and various factors influencing the length of matches.

Regulation Time

In regulation time, soccer matches consist of two halves, each lasting 45 minutes. The interval between the halves is typically 15 minutes, providing players with a brief respite to rest and regroup. The total duration of regulation time is 90 minutes.


In the event that a match remains tied at the end of regulation time, an additional 30 minutes of play is added, known as overtime or extra time. Overtime is divided into two 15-minute halves, with a short break between them.

Extensions: Golden Goal and Silver Goal

In some competitions, extensions are used to determine the winner if the match remains tied after overtime. These formats were previously used in major tournaments but have since been discontinued.

  • Golden Goal: A goal scored during overtime results in an immediate victory for the scoring team.
  • Silver Goal: A goal scored during overtime only extends the match until the next goal is scored, which determines the winner.

Stoppage Time

Stoppage time, also called injury time, is added to the end of each half to compensate for time lost during the match. This can include stoppages for injuries, substitutions, fouls, and other interruptions. Stoppage time is typically determined by the referee based on their assessment of the game.

Factors Influencing Match Duration

Numerous factors can influence the actual duration of a soccer match:

  • Injuries: Injuries to players can lead to significant stoppages in play, extending the match time.
  • Substitutions: When players are substituted, it temporarily halts the flow of the game, contributing to stoppage time.
  • Fouls and Free Kicks: Fouls and free kicks disrupt the momentum of the game, causing brief pauses in play.
  • Slow Play and Time Wasting: Some teams may employ tactics to slow down the game or waste time, particularly when defending a lead.
  • Refereeing Decisions: The referee’s decisions and interpretations can impact the duration of the match, especially in cases of controversial calls or lengthy goal reviews.
  • Climate and Weather Conditions: Extreme heat, rain, or snow can affect the pace of the game and lead to stoppages due to player safety.

Additional Time in Major Tournaments

In major international tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship, matches can have additional time added to both regulation and overtime. This is primarily to ensure a definitive winner within the match’s framework and avoid the need for a penalty shootout.

Penalty Shootouts

If a match remains tied after regulation time and overtime, a penalty shootout is used to determine the winner. Each team takes turns attempting five penalty kicks, and the team with the most successful kicks wins.


The duration of soccer matches is a complex and dynamic aspect of the game. The standard 90 minutes of regulation time, with potential overtime extensions, ensures a fair and competitive contest. Stoppage time and various factors can influence the actual length of a match, adding to the excitement and unpredictability of the sport. Understanding the intricacies of match duration empowers fans and players alike to appreciate the full scope and nuances of soccer matches.

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