How does match time works in soccer?

I think I know a little bit about how it works, like how they add injury time to the end of the regular time, but I do not know it for sure.

2 Answers 2


Well the regular amount of time for each half normally lasts 45 minutes:

The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed between the referee and the two participating teams. Any agreement to alter the periods of play (for example to reduce each half to 40 minutes because of insufficient light) must be made before the start of play and must comply with competition rules.

Injury Time is added at the end of each half:

Allowance is made in either period for all time lost through:

  • substitution(s)
  • assessment of injury to players
  • removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment
  • wasting time
  • any other cause

The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee.

And in certain competitions, Extra Time may be required at the end of a game, for example in the World Cup, where two halves of 15 minutes in length are played, with the above rules of added time applying to those two halves.


The duration depends on the referee. Injury time is established by the referee and he gives how many minutes of stoppage time he wants.

From the "Laws of the Game":

The duration of stoppage time is at the sole discretion of the referee.

As you probably knew already, any kind of match interruptions will extend the stoppage time. However, only the referee can be the timekeeper.

Facts: The ball is in game for about 22 minutes each half in the most important leagues. The longest injury time given was 23 minutes. Germany referees usually give no more than 3 minutes of additional time.

  • just a quick addition, even if there are no remarkable injuries, the first half is usually extended at least 1 mins. And regardless of the 4th officials sign regarding the injury time, the referee can decide to call an end to the game as he sees it fit. One such example was during a match I saw, it was 4-0 and the losing team was one man down and had already relegated to the lower division, the ref blew it off immediately after 90 mins.
    – posdef
    May 2, 2012 at 12:42
  • you're perfectly right. in Bundesliga is quite usual to see only one minute or even none for the first half. May 2, 2012 at 15:27
  • commonly in the premier league injury time is around 4 minutes. most adhere to the 30 seconds per substitution rule, which could mean 3 minutes. but yes it's the at the referees discretion.
    – user560
    Jun 21, 2012 at 11:48
  • What about delays that occur (injuries, goal celebrations, etc.) that take place during the previously specified injury time?
    – DJohnM
    Mar 31, 2016 at 23:12

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