Soccer is among the top 3 most adored sports in the world today. The dozens of soccer leagues all over the world is an obvious proof of this claim.
If you are new to soccer, a lot of things might confuse you, especially if you are also a lover of other contact sports like basketball, rugby, and American football which are among the most cherished sports in America.
You will have to unlearn and relearn a couple of things about the sport to appreciate it for all it’s worth. Knowing the number of players allowed to play on a team and the number of players a soccer team can have is some of the basics to fully understanding the sport.
The above piece of advice doesn’t only apply to just Association football alone, it also applies to other forms of soccer as well such as beach soccer, futsal, street soccer, indoor soccer, etc. To fully appreciate the game, it is paramount that you first understand its basic rules and structure.
We understand that most of you are familiar with the number of players allowed by law to represent the soccer team on the field or sporting arena but are oblivious of the number of players a soccer club can have.
This article will tell you about soccer clubs and the number of players they are permitted by law to have in all the variations of the sport. Can a team have more or fewer players?
Is there a penalty for any club that has more or fewer players? Keep reading to find out.
How many players can a soccer club have?
In association football, there are usually 11 players allowed in each of the two teams on the field during soccer games. That means that only 22 players or fewer can play a match when it comes to association football unlike other forms of soccer.
In futsal and beach soccer, a maximum of 5 players are allowed by law to play per team in a game while in street soccer, a maximum of 4 players can play at once. In indoor soccer, a maximum of 6 players are allowed to represent a team in a game.
Now that we know the number of players allowed to participate per team in a match for different soccer variants, it’s time to take a closer look at how many players soccer clubs can have in Association football and other variants of soccer.
The FIFA Laws of the Game (Law 3) has set the minimum number of players a top-flight soccer club can have at 14 and a maximum of 23 players. However, prior to the Japan and South Korea World Cup in 2002, only a maximum of 22 players were allowed per team.
For the 2022 World Cup that will take place in Qatar, FIFA has increased the number of players that can be on a team to 26.
Some leagues allow for an unlimited number of players in a soccer club provided that all the players are fully registered and the team is financially capable of covering the wages of all the players in the club.
For example, in the 2021/22 Premier League season, Chelsea had 35 players, Arsenal had 32 and Liverpool had 43. However, the less financially strong teams tend to have fewer players.
For example, Fulham had 30 players while Nottingham Forest had 31. The more competitions a soccer club participates in, the more players they will need to beat fatigue.
Soccer coaches have the power to select the first eleven players that will represent their team on the pitch. Coaches can only make 5 substitutions (previously 3) from their reserve players during a game even though they can register up to 7 substitute players.
Therefore, on match days, the maximum number of players that will be paraded by a club is 18. This includes the 11 on-field players that will start the game and 7 substitutes out of which 5 may get a chance to participate in the game.
The entire 14 or 23 players in a soccer club mustn’t participate in all matches played by the team but each player will eventually get their moment.
Soccer rules mandates that a team must outline the names of players available for substitution before a match and mustn’t use players that are not on the initial list as substitutes when the match starts.
In friendly soccer matches, each team can make as many as 7 substitutions and in some cases, there is no limit to the number of substitutes a coach can make. The game will not go on if there are less than 7 members in a team.
Although rarely seen, this can happen if the players from one of the teams get up to 5 red cards.
In respect to the Laws of the game, futsal is played by just 5 players on the court and in official competitions, futsal clubs are only allowed to have as many as 15 players rostered on a team. The number of substitutions that can be made in futsal is unlimited, unlike association football.
This type of soccer with its distinct differences is usually played on a basketball-sized court so you can see the reason why only 5 players are permitted to play per team. The small size of the playing court ensures that the game is intense and fast-paced.
Since the size of the court is usually smaller than that of association football, players usually have less area to cover and fewer roles to play. Players can be substituted at any time during the game by the coach.
The maximum number of players that can be used by a team in each match is 12 and the match wouldn’t be allowed to continue if a participating team has less than 3 players.
Beach soccer is a very popular kind of soccer usually played on beaches. In beach soccer, speed, ball possession techniques, and agility are very important. Matches are played between two teams consisting of 5 players each and each team can make as many substitutions as they want in a match.
No official club is allowed by the Laws of the game to have more than 12 uniformed players on their squad on match days except at national finals and qualifiers where teams can have as many as 14 players on their roster.
The rules guiding beach soccer also state that a match can only start if there are at least 4 players on each participating team. When a competing team has fewer than 3 players on the field, the match must be terminated.
Since the field used for playing beach soccer usually measures 35-37 meters long and 26-28 meters wide, you wouldn’t expect to see as many players on the field during a match as you usually see in association football. Five players can adequately represent their team in beach soccer.
Street soccer is an informal variant of association football, it doesn’t usually adhere to the requirements of formal soccer. It is more similar to futsal and beach soccer than association football where match officials, soccer balls, corner flags, field markings, goal apparatus, etc. are mandatory.
Street soccer might seem unorganized to you but be aware that organizations are in charge of this sport in America and other parts of the world, some of which include Street Soccer USA, The International Street Soccer Association, etc.
In street soccer, a team can comprise only males, females, or a mixture of both, depending on the league we are focusing on. A maximum of 4 players from each team is allowed by law to compete on the court. This comprises 3 outfield players and a goalkeeper.
Clubs in street soccer can have as many as 10 players in a team and all players must be duly registered before the beginning of a tournament. Falsification of skill level or age can get players dismissed from participating in a tournament.
Many famous soccer stars passed through this form of soccer in their rise to stardom, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Diego Maradona, and Giuseppe Meazza to name a few. People enjoy playing street soccer because it is easier to access, more fun, and less demanding.
Derived from association football but played in an enclosed arena, indoor soccer was developed for soccer lovers to be able to enjoy the sport in winter seasons when the weather outdoors becomes too harsh to accommodate regular soccer.
The World Minifootball Federation (WMF) is responsible for governing the affairs of the sport at the international level. Each team in indoor soccer usually comprises 5 outfield players and a goalkeeper.
The minimum number of players required by Law to start a match is 4 and the maximum number is 6. An indoor soccer club can only have a maximum of 20 registered players on its team’s roster.
Most leagues in indoor soccer allow for unlimited substitutions provided substituted players leave the court before a new player takes their place. When a match gets intense, it is usually common to see players switching positions fluidly instead of maintaining their original territory.
The number of players in a team isn’t often as important as the quality of players in a team. This is the reason why most rich soccer clubs in all variants of soccer wouldn’t mind spending top dollar just to procure the best players in the world.
The quality of players in a team often determines how far they can go and how many trophies they can lift. Soccer clubs with a good number of great players are usually revered in the world of soccer and most times, smaller teams get scared when playing against them.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!