Soccer Game Clock Rules

Soccer Game Clock Rules

The soccer game clock is one of the most important aspects of gameplay. Always kept by the head official, the game clock keeps track of the time elapsed and time remaining in a match.

The Game Clock

soccer game clock

Soccer games have a clock that is constantly ticking, called the game clock. The game clock is the official designation of the time in a soccer match, always kept by the head official and often displayed in the stadium or on television broadcasts. In a standard international soccer match, the game clock will start at zero and count up, stopping at halftime once 45 minutes are on the clock and resuming at the start of the second half. The clock continues to run throughout the second half until it reaches 90 minutes. Additional stoppage time is normally added at the end of each half. Stoppage time is usually added to the game clock to supplement time wasted during the half due to injuries and substitutions.

Why does a soccer clock count up?

The game clock counts up instead of down because it allows extra time to be added at the end to account for stoppages in play. This enables soccer to be supervised by a single referee. There doesn't need to be a specific referee responsible for all timekeeping. Instead, a single referee can keep track of time while making calls on the field. It is easier for a referee to keep track of the time in a game if it counts up without pausing it every time an event happens.

At the end of each half, the referee can determine added stoppage time at their discretion. If the clock counted down instead of up, extra time in the second half would cause the clock to go into negative numbers.

College Soccer Game Clock Rules

For soccer matches sanctioned under the NCAA governing body, the game clock ticks from 45 minutes down to zero, showing the time remaining in each half. This is the opposite of most professional soccer matches. In NCAA matches, the head official is allowed to stop the game clock when a player is injured to the point that a coach or medical staff member must attend to them. Play is resumed, and the game clock starts ticking again when the injured player is attended to, at the discretion of the head official.

Stoppage Time

Stoppage time in soccer is additional time added to the game clock by the referee at the end of each half. Stoppage time is added whenever there is a major stoppage in play, such as an injury, substitution, or discourse between officials and players. One of the referees, usually the sideline referee, will keep track of time wasted on a stopwatch. They will then communicate to the other officials how much time should be added on to the half. In most levels of soccer, an average of one to five minutes of stoppage time will be added on to the end of each half.

Extra Time

Extra time is soccer’s version of overtime that is used in elimination games to determine a winner if the score is tied. While most league and group stage games can end in a tie, knockout stage games need a clear winner. Extra time consists of two 15-minute halves with a short break in between. Whoever is winning the game at the end of extra time will be declared the winner. If the teams are still tied after extra time, a penalty shootout will take place.


Are there timeouts in soccer?

There are no timeouts in professional soccer. Teams can make substitutions during the game, but time will not stop. The game clock will keep ticking even if the referee signals a stoppage of play for things like an injury, hazard on the pitch, or a medical issue. Additional playing time is added to the end of each half, called stoppage time.

Why does the clock not stop in soccer?

The game clock in soccer does not stop in order to make it easier to officiate with only one referee. It is easier for a referee to keep track of time without having to repeatedly stop and start the clock. Instead, stoppage time is used to add time back on the clock at the end of the game.

What happens if a soccer game is tied after 90 minutes?

If a soccer game is tied at the end of regulation, extra time will be played to determine the winner. The two extra time periods each last 15 minutes, not including additional stoppage time. Penalty kicks are used as a last resort to determine the winner if the score is still tied at the end of extra time.

What is the most stoppage time ever added to a soccer game?

The most stoppage time ever added to a soccer game was 28 minutes. This astonishing total equates to just over a quarter of an entire soccer game. The 28-minute stoppage was added to a 2019 Carabao Cup match featuring Burton Albion and Bournemouth. During the game, Pirelli Stadium repeatedly lost use of its stadium lights due to local power outages. Each delay due to the lights turning off resulted in more stoppage time, building up to this absurd 28-minute total.