how long does a soccer game last
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In the world of sports, soccer is undoubtedly one of the most popular games. Millions of fans eagerly wait for the thrilling matches and cheer for their favorite teams. One common question that arises among soccer enthusiasts is, "How long does a soccer game last?" In this article, we will explore the various factors that determine the duration of a soccer game and provide you with a comprehensive answer to this query.

Understanding the Four Quarters

Unlike some other sports, soccer games are divided into two halves, each consisting of 45 minutes. Therefore, the total duration of the game without any additional time or interruptions is 90 minutes. These halves are further divided into four quarters:

First Quarter: The Start of the Game

The first quarter of a soccer game is known as the opening period. During this time, players warm up, the referee ensures that all rules are followed, and the teams prepare for the match. The duration of the first quarter is typically around 15 minutes.

Second and Third Quarters: The Main Play

The second and third quarters are the core of the soccer game. They consist of two halves of 45 minutes each, making a total of 90 minutes. The clock keeps running continuously during these periods, except for certain interruptions such as injuries, substitutions, and disciplinary actions.

Fourth Quarter: Extra Time

In some cases, the game may extend beyond the 90-minute mark due to additional time. This is usually referred to as extra time or stoppage time. The fourth quarter is not a separate period but an extension of the previous quarters. The duration of this quarter varies depending on various factors, which we will discuss later in this article.

Factors Influencing the Duration

Several factors can impact the overall duration of a soccer game. It's essential to understand these factors to have a better understanding of why a game could last longer than the standard 90 minutes:

Injuries and Medical Assistance

If a player gets injured during the game, the referee may stop the clock to allow medical assistance. Depending on the severity of the injury and the time needed for treatment, the game may be extended by a few minutes.

Substitutions and Tactical Changes

Teams often make substitutions during a game to bring in fresh players or alter their tactics. The clock does not stop for substitutions, but the process itself can consume some time. Additionally, if many substitutions occur, the referee may add extra time to compensate for the interruptions.

Goals and Celebrations

Scoring a goal is a moment of great excitement for both players and fans. Celebrations can take some time, including hugging teammates, running to the crowd, or performing coordinated routines. While these celebrations add to the overall spectacle of the game, they also contribute to the extension of its duration.

Disciplinary Actions

During a soccer game, players may receive yellow or red cards for various rule violations. The time taken to handle disciplinary actions, such as cautioning or sending off a player, can add a few minutes to the game.

Time-Wasting Strategies

In some instances, teams may employ time-wasting tactics to protect their lead or hold on for a draw. These tactics can include players intentionally delaying restarts, taking longer to execute throw-ins or free-kicks, or feigning injuries. While referees try to minimize time wastage, it can still extend the duration of the game.


Q: Can a soccer game end in a tie?

A: Yes, a soccer game can end in a tie if both teams have an equal number of goals at the end of regular time. However, in certain competitions, like knockout stages in tournaments, extra time and penalty shootouts may be used to determine a winner.

Q: How long is the break between halves?

A: The break between the first and second halves of a soccer game is typically around 15 minutes. This break allows players to rest, receive instructions from their coaches, and rehydrate.

Q: Why does the referee add extra time at the end of the game?

A: The referee adds extra time to compensate for the time lost due to interruptions during the game, such as injuries, substitutions, and time-wasting tactics. The added time ensures that both teams have an equal opportunity to play for the full duration.


Soccer games generally last for 90 minutes, divided into two halves of 45 minutes each. However, various factors can influence the overall duration, including injuries, substitutions, goals, disciplinary actions, and time-wasting strategies. These factors may extend the game beyond the standard 90 minutes. The addition of extra time at the end of the game allows for fair play and ensures that both teams have an equal chance to compete. So, the next time you watch a soccer game, keep in mind that its duration can vary depending on the circumstances on the field.

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