Why Do They Add Minutes In Soccer?

As a die-hard soccer fan, I have always been intrigued by added time in soccer matches. It’s that nervous period where anything can happen, and the game’s outcome hangs in the balance. A few seconds can make all the difference between victory and defeat.

I remember watching a game last season where my favorite team was leading 1-0 with just a minute left.

The opposition team was awarded a corner kick, and as they piled forward for an equalizer, my heart skipped a beat. The referee blew his whistle, signaling three minutes of added time.

Those three minutes felt like an eternity as we held dearly to secure our win—that moment made me wonder why they added minutes in soccer.

In a hurry? Here’s a quick & short answer that’ll definitely help you out!

In soccer, they add minutes, known as ‘stoppage time’ or ‘injury time’, to compensate for delays during regular time. These delays could be due to injuries, substitutions, or other interruptions like goal celebrations. This ensures that the game retains approximately 90 minutes of actual play, keeping the competition fair and engaging.

Definition of Added Time in Soccer

You might wonder why the referee allows extra time on the clock, but trust me, added time in soccer can make or break a team’s chance at victory.

Added time is also known as stoppage or injury time and refers to the minutes added to the end of each half of a game.

The referee does this to compensate for lost playing time due to injuries, substitutions, and other disruptions during the game.

The importance of added time cannot be overstated. It allows teams to have more opportunities to score goals or even equalize if they are losing.

However, there have been controversies surrounding added-time decisions, particularly when referees add too much or too little time.

These decisions can be met with anger and frustration from players, coaches, and fans alike, significantly if it affects their team’s chances of winning.

Historical Background of Added Time

Add Minutes In Soccer

Now, let me tell you about the fascinating historical background of added time in soccer.

The evolution of added time can be traced back to the 1890s, when it was first introduced to compensate for stoppages in play during a match.

Initially, referees used their discretion to add extra time at the end of each half, but this led to controversies surrounding added time as an arbitrary and subjective decision.

As soccer grew in popularity worldwide, standardization was needed regarding how much added time should be given.

In 1992, FIFA introduced new rules that mandated referees to add thirty seconds for each substitution made during a game.

Since then, the average amount of added time per game has increased to six minutes in the English Premier League due to factors such as injuries and goal celebrations that take up significant amounts of playing time.

Related: What Is The Most Important Position In Soccer

Reasons for Adding Time in Soccer

Take a look at why added time is necessary in soccer. Interestingly, the average stoppage time per game has increased by over 50% in the English Premier League since 1992.

So, what are the reasons for adding this extra time?

Firstly, injury time controversy can arise due to injuries, substitutions, and other stoppages during the game. The referee must add additional minutes to compensate for lost playing time and ensure that both teams have an equal chance of scoring or winning.

Second, longer games allow for more scoring chances and give players more time to rest and recover from weariness and injury.

Ultimately, extra time guarantees a full and equitable contest within the allotted time span.

How Added Time is Calculated

Let’s have a look at the formula used in soccer for extra time! Calculation methods for added time vary across leagues and competitions.

In general, the referee decides how much time to add based on several factors, such as injuries, substitutions, and delays caused by players.

After each half, the referee announces the number of overtime minutes, which could range from one to five or more.

The controversy surrounding added time arises when fans and teams feel the extra time is unfair or inconsistent. Some fans have protested because they feel like referees didn’t add enough or too much time.

Whether or not technology can be used to help referees calculate added time more accurately is a topic of continuing dispute among soccer fans.

Despite these disputes, added time remains an essential component of soccer games that adds excitement and unpredictability until the final whistle blows.

Impact of Added Time on Soccer Matches

Add Minutes In Soccer

You’re probably wondering how added time can impact soccer matches. It can make or break a team’s chances of winning and keep fans on the edge of their seats until the very end.

The amount of injury time controversy has increased in recent years due to the stoppage time strategy employed by coaches.

It is common for a team with a slim lead to slow down the game’s pace, waste valuable seconds through substitutions and tactical fouls, and wait until the referee adds extra minutes.

In such cases, added time becomes crucial, allowing teams behind in goals to equalize or even win the match.

Conversely, if a team is ahead and able to maintain possession during injury time, they could secure their victory and take three points from the game.

As shown below in this 2-column x 3-row table, added time can be beneficial or detrimental depending on which side you are supporting:

Team LeadingDrawTeam Trailing
Can use up injury time to protect their leadHas an opportunity to score an equalizer or winning goal during added minutesCan benefit from more playing minutes to stage a comeback

Ultimately, added time makes soccer matches more exciting and unpredictable than other sports like basketball or American football, where clock management plays a significant role in closing out games.

As a fan, I always look forward to those last few minutes when anything can happen- whether it’s an unlikely hero scoring a late winner or heartbreak for supporters as they watch their team concede at the death.

Notable Instances of Added Time Scenarios

As a soccer fan, you’ve probably witnessed some unforgettable moments in added time that have made or broken your team’s chances of victory. Injury time controversies are one of the most debated topics in soccer.

The referee is responsible for adding extra minutes to a match when there are stoppages due to injuries, substitutions, or team time-wasting tactics.

However, sometimes the amount of injury time given can be controversial, leading to heated discussions among fans and players. Here are three notable instances of added time scenarios:

  1. In the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals, England scored their winning goal against Colombia during extra time after conceding an equalizer in the final minutes of regulation time.
  2. In the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, Manchester United scored two goals in injury time to win the title against Bayern Munich. This moment has become known as ‘the treble-winning season’ for Manchester United.
  3. In a Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in 2019, four goals were scored during injury time, ending with a V.A.R. (video assistant referee) decision ruling out an apparent winner from Manchester City.

These incidents show how much impact added time can have on game flow and change the outcome of matches.

Related: Why Is Algeria So Good At Soccer

Who decides the added time in a soccer match?

Who decides the added time in a soccer match? This is a common question among soccer enthusiasts and fans alike.

The answer is simple: the referee. Only the referee can call timeout at the end of each half and decide if and when overtime will be played.

To make this decision, referees consider several factors, such as injuries, substitutions, time-wasting tactics by players or teams, and any other interruptions that may have occurred during play.

The added time can vary from match to match but typically ranges between one to five minutes per half.

Play And Allowing Teams

While some fans may view added time as an annoyance or unnecessary addition to the game, it serves an essential purpose in ensuring fair play and allowing teams equal opportunity to score before the final whistle blows.

Allows for fair playCan disrupt team momentum
Provides equal opportunity for both teamsMay lead to more injuries due to extended playtime
Helps prevent time-wasting tacticsCan result in frustration for players and fans
Gives referees control over game lengthMay not accurately reflect actual game flow

The role of technology in calculating added time has become increasingly prevalent in recent years with the use of V.A.R. (video assistant referee) systems.

These systems allow officials on and off-field access to replays of crucial moments in a match that the referee may have missed during live gameplay.

This technology can aid referees in making more accurate decisions regarding added time based on evidence provided by video footage.

While controversial at times, added time remains an integral part of soccer matches worldwide.

Its implementation ensures fairness and equal opportunities for all teams involved while providing greater control over game length for referees.

As technology advances within soccer officiating, we may see even further improvements in determining proper amounts of added time per match based on real-time data analysis.

What’s the longest added time in soccer history?

Add Minutes In Soccer

The longest added time in soccer history they have occurred during a match between S.S. Lazio and Genoa C.F.C. teams, where the referee added 19 minutes to the second half due to heavy rainfall and players’ injuries.

The incident sparked controversy surrounding added time decisions, with some questioning whether adding that much time to the game was necessary.

However, many fans and analysts agreed that the decision was fair, given the circumstances of the match.

Injuries and delays can significantly affect gameplay, and adding extra time ensures that both teams have an equal opportunity to score or defend their goal.

While it may seem like a lot of spare time, referees need to make these decisions based on what’s best for the integrity of the game.

Related: Why Are South American Soccer Players So Pricey


I’ve always wondered why they add minutes in soccer. Counting time is a crucial element of the game, giving teams a chance to score or defend their lead until the final whistle.

The reasons for adding time are varied, from injuries and substitutions to time-wasting tactics and interruptions.

As I studied more about overtime, I was astounded by its potential to set the stage for either a miraculous comeback or a devastating loss.

Whether you’re a soccer fan or not, understanding the role of added time can enhance your appreciation of this beautiful game.

So next time you’re watching a match and wondering why there’s still time left on the clock, remember that anything can happen in those precious minutes.


Manuel Esposito

Hello everyone! My name is Manuel and I've recently got my PhD in Sport and Excercise Science at the University of Portsmouth. I'm raised and born in New York, and I've been a big fan of soccer my whole life. Soccer is the reason why I got my PhD in Sport and Excercise Science, and my goal with this blog is to help you improve your soccer techniques, strategies, and knowledge!

Press ESC to close