How Long Is a Women’s Soccer Game?


Post title over image of female soccer players

Women’s soccer is growing in popularity and exciting to watch. If you are new to the game, you may not be aware of how many minutes a women’s soccer game lasts. In this article, I want to show you how long a women’s soccer game is.

A women’s soccer game is 90 minutes long. The game is divided into two halves of 45 minutes with a 15-minute break between the two halves. If the game is tied at the end of the 90 minutes playing time, the referee may add on extra time.

This is the standard amount of time that is played in every women’s soccer game, but you should also be aware that there are certain situations where more time can be added on to make the game last longer.

I want to show you the reasons for this and explain how the timings in women’s soccer compare to men’s soccer games.

The Timings of Women’s Soccer Games

You can break a women’s soccer game down into three sections:

  • A 45 minute time period
  • A 15-minute break
  • Another 45 minute time period

Each half of a women’s soccer game is 45 minutes long, and as you can see, this makes for a total playing time of 90 minutes.

This is actually the way teams have played soccer games since 1877.  Before that, there were various timings used, and it could make soccer games very confusing to watch! [source]

The rules of soccer also clearly say that this is the required length of a soccer game.

Law 7 of the Laws of the Game of soccer states that:

“A match lasts for two equal halves of 45 minutes”.

IFAB Laws of the Game

The referee is the one who monitors the time and will decide when the game starts and when it ends.

Length of a Women’s World Cup Soccer Game

These timings are the same during the women’s world cup as well.

The length of a women’s world cup soccer game is 90 minutes. The game is split into two halves of 45 minutes, and the players take a 15-minute break between the two halves. The referee has the option to add extra time to the end of the halves as necessary.

At the women’s world cup, each game lasts for a minimum of 90 minutes.

During the group stages, the game doesn’t last any longer than that unless the referee decides to add a few minutes at the end of each half. Still, during the knock-out rounds, it is not uncommon for an extra 30 minutes to be added on to the game.

Let me explain why.

Time Added on to a Soccer Game

Structure of a soccer game
Format of a women’s soccer game

As I’ve already mentioned a few times, there are situations in soccer where the referee will increase the game’s length from the regulation 90 minutes.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. Stoppage time
  2. and overtime or extra time

Stoppage time

Unlike many other sports, soccer uses what is known as a “running clock.”

This means that once the clock starts at the beginning of a half, it doesn’t stop again until the referee brings the half to an end. I wrote a whole article about how the clock in soccer works here if you are interested in knowing more.

The problem with this is that whenever the play stops for an injury to a player or because a team is making a substitution, for example, then a chunk of playing time is lost.

To compensate for this, and to discourage teams from time-wasting, the referee keeps track of how much time is lost during a half and adds it on to the end. This is known as stoppage time.

To illustrate this, imagine a player is injured in minute 25 of the first half. It then takes 3 minutes to treat the player before the game can be restarted. To compensate for this loss of time, and because the clock does not stop during this injury, the referee will add an extra 3 minutes on to the game at the end of the 45 minutes. This means the referee will end the half after 48 minutes has passed since the game began.

Although this extra time is added on, it’s important to remember that there is still only a total of 45 minutes playing time played.

Overtime or extra time

The other situation where more time may be added onto a game is if the referee adds what is known as overtime or extra time to a game.

In a women’s soccer tournament such as the women’s soccer world cup, a winner needs to be established. For this to happen, a game can’t end in a tie. There needs to be a winner.

In the event of a tie at the end of the regulation 90 minutes, the referee will add on an extra 30 minutes of playing time to the soccer game. These 30 minutes will be divided into two 15 minute halves with a short break between the two halves.

This extra time gives both teams the chance to score again and end the overtime period ahead on goals. If one side is winning when the referee ends overtime, that team will be the winning team.

If, however, the game is still tied at the end of the extra 30 minutes, then the game moves into a penalty shoot-out where each team takes it in turns to take a free shot at goal. This keeps going until one team has scored more goals than their opponents.

Extra time, or overtime, will add 30 minutes onto a women’s soccer game. And if a penalty shoot-out is needed, then this will add approximately another 10 minutes onto a game.

To find out more about overtime in soccer check out this article I wrote to help you understand all the details.

The Length of a Soccer Game Can Be Changed

Many people don’t realize that the length of a game can be changed from the regulation 90 minutes.

Law 7 in the Laws of the Game states that the length of soccer game:

“may only be reduced if agreed between the referee and the two teams before the start of the match and if in accordance with competition rules.”

IFAB Laws of the Game

If the referee, along with the two teams, come together before a game and decide to reduce the game’s length, then that is what will happen.

However, this is a theoretical possibility rather than something that you will see very often. The significant factor to remember with this is that it has to be “in accordance with competition rules.”

This is important because almost all professional women’s soccer competitions require a game to last for 90 minutes.

The competition regulations for the FIFA women’s soccer world cup are the perfect example of this. The requirement for these games is that they last for 90 minutes. In this case, the referee and two teams wouldn’t be able to reduce the game’s time as the competition rules don’t allow it.

How Men and Women’s Soccer Games Compare

The last thing I want to show you is how the length of a women’s soccer game compares to the length of a men’s soccer game.

The length of women’s soccer games is the same as the length of a men’s soccer game. Both men and women play for a total of 90 minutes. A 90-minute game is split into two halves of 45 minutes each with a 15-minute break between the two halves.

The rules of soccer apply equally to both men and women’s soccer. When the rules say that a game must last for a total of 90 minutes, both men and women’s competitions must abide by them.

Conclusion

As you will have seen, a women’s soccer game lasts for a total of 90 minutes playing time. If you add the playing time and break together, the total length of time comes to 1 hour 45 minutes.

If you want to see the most inspirational soccer quotes for women then have a look at this list I put together.

If you want to know what counts as a handball in soccer have a look at this article I wrote.

And if you want to see my recommended gear for soccer click here.

Ben

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Sign up to the yoursoccerhome.com newsletter here or check out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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