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World Cup Soccer- Keeping Time on the Pitch

How Regulation, Stoppage, and Extra Time Work

If you’re an American sports bettor who is relatively unacquainted with soccer, you may be confused by the manner in which the time clock works and how matches are settled. World Cup soccer timekeeping comes under the official rules that are governed by FIFA and known as the Laws of the Game. The seventh law, there are 17 total such laws, focuses on the length of time it takes to play a regulation soccer game. Here’s how time will work in the 2018 World Cup.

Standard Time and Halftime

A soccer match is scheduled to run for 90 minutes. Those 90 minutes are divided into two 45-minute halves. When the first half is over, there’s a 15-minute break. At the end of 15 minutes, the players must be out of the locker room and on the pitch for the second half. However, Word Cup soccer timekeeping, like other professional matches overseen by FIFA, includes something known as stoppage time. It’s also known as injury time.

Stoppage Time

Unlike American football, basketball, and hockey, where the clock stops when play stops, the clock keeps running in soccer. To compensate for times when the clock should stop, such as injuries, submission of subs, and time that elapses after someone scores, the officials may add time onto the game at the end of each half. When someone refers to stoppage or injury time this is what they are referring to.

It’s interesting to note that stoppage time is relatively random, or, at the very least, inexact. The referees estimate the time and there are no specifics as to how much time is to be added. Added time is usually somewhere around six minutes, but it can be less and it can certainly be more.

Extra Time

In some instances, such as the Knockout Round of the World Cup, draws are not allowed. Thus, if at the end of regulation time, there is no winner, the match will go into extra time. This is also known as overtime. Extra time is divided into two 15-minute halves, and there’s a five-minute break after the initial half. Stoppage time may be added to either half. Extra time is played out fully. This makes it akin the overtime in basketball rather than sudden overtime that’s used in the NFL and hockey.


If, at the end of extra time there is no victor, the winner of the match is decided by a shootout. In a shootout round, each team is given five shots. If at the end of the round, the teams are still tied, they engage in another shootout. This continues, with each team getting five shots per round, until one team goes ahead and the other team either cannot possibly tie or win by the end of the shootout.

World Cup Soccer Timekeeping – Not Exacting

Sports bettors need to be aware of how World Cup soccer timekeeping works. If at the end of regulation time, your team is ahead, that does not mean that you’ve won your bet. There’s still stoppage time. Also, overtime is not sudden death. In recent years, the NFL has revised its overtime sudden death rules, as has college football, but hockey has not. And overtime in these games is nothing like extra time in soccer. The closest thing to soccer overtime play is OT in basketball. But basketball overtime is much shorter, and is not divided into halves.

We have much more information on 2018 World Cup betting, as well as event history and analysis of the current teams. Once the World Cup starts, make sure that you check our pages for soccer betting tips.


Paul has been writing about sports betting and sports for more than a decade, offering picks on the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, as well as on college sports and European football. He's written thousands of season and post-season previews, innumerable articles on sports betting strategies, and various books on sports and sports betting.

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