Soccer Overtime Rules

Soccer Overtime Rules

In today’s article, I want to address some information about soccer overtime rules. It’s pretty simple in concept but does have some details that make it unique compared to other global sports.

overtime in soccerIn general, a soccer match will last 90 minutes, split into two halves of 45 minutes each. But sometimes, the 90-minute allocated time is not enough to decide the winner, which is what makes overtime necessary.

While you probably get the concept of overtime, you may not be aware of all its rules.

So, whether you want to learn more about how overtime works or you want to prepare for when you’ll play soccer yourself, here is everything you should know about soccer overtime rules.

What Is Overtime in Soccer?

In most sporting events, there needs to be a clear winner. If the game is tied after regulation then the teams will compete in overtime until a winner is determined.

For example, in basketball, if a team hits a buzzer beater and ties the game up at 67 points with zero seconds left, it does not result in a tie. Instead, it goes into an overtime period and the team with the higher point total at the end of the overtime will win the game. It continues to repeat if there is a tie at the end of the first overtime.

However, in soccer, a game can end in a tie. This is called a draw.

For soccer matches that need a winner to be determined (i.e. – in the playoffs or tournaments) then the overtime period is implemented.

In this case, two 15-minute overtime halves will be added to crown a winner. A penalty shootout will ensue if it’s still tied at the end of 30-minutes.

Where Does the Idea of Overtime Come From?

Overtime became a thing back in 1897. However, the system still had its issues, despite the extra time getting accepted.

In case the game ended in a tie, then overtime would be offered, but if no team gained the advantage during the extra time, a simple coin toss would decide the final result of the match. Eeek 😬

A great example of this is the Italy and the Soviet Union match from the semi-finals of the 1968 European Championship. After a coin toss, Italy was able to win. And while Italy also won the tournament in the end, the system was clearly flawed. So, new rules were quickly in the works.

In the past, the overtime they incorporated was very long. Because the win during the overtime was determined by the team that scored next, there were times when a match would last for more than an additional 3 hours.

This was called the “Golden Goal” rule, and it isn’t normally enforced in today’s game.

There was also another rule known as the “Silver Goal”. This means that the team that was in the lead by half-time during overtime would become the winner.

Similarly to the Golden Goal, the Silver Goal evaporated from determining the winner.

As a result of the overtime experiments, the penalty shootout was introduced in 1970.

What Are the Rules of Overtime in Soccer?

The great thing about overtime in soccer is that the rules are not hard to understand. In fact, they are pretty similar to the ones that rule the rest of the soccer game.

Here are the overtime rules you should be aware of:

  1. The teams are allowed to make substitutions during the extra time.
  2. There will be a quick half-time between the two overtime periods.
  3. There are two 15-minute overtime periods.
  4. Extra-time is added to each overtime period.
  5. The team that manages to gain the score advantage when the overtime ends will win the match.
  6. Teams alternate the overtime kickoffs.
  7. If there is still a tie at the end of the extra time, an opportunity for a shootout will determine the winner.

Even though many soccer games go into overtime periods, some tournaments will go straight to penalties. This is especially true in youth soccer.

Stoppage and Overtime – What Is the Difference?

One thing that may confuse you when it comes to soccer is how overtime and stoppage times are different.

Overtime includes two separate 15-minute halves. They are played when the match ends in a tie after the regulation time comes to an end.

On the other hand, stoppage time (or extra time) can be added at the end of each half of the game to provide compensation for all the stoppages taking place during each half of the match.

There are many reasons why stoppages occur – for example, when teams waste time or when substitutions have to be made. The referee is the one deciding on the amount of stoppage time, but the norm is usually between 1 and 4 minutes.


Thanks for reading this far! As you read, overtime in soccer is pretty straightforward.

I think the current overtime and penalty shootout rules make it more exciting to watch soccer matches. I realize there’s some controversy about the shootouts but how exciting was the 2022 World Cup finals between Argentina and France?

Nonetheless, most soccer games will either end in a clear winner or draw (tie) so overtime won’t come into play but it’s important to understand it especially during tournament time!

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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