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How Many Soccer Players Are On The Field At One Time?

How Many Soccer Players Are On The Field At One Time?

Soccer ranks high in the list of the greatest team sports in the world. This is because it is enjoyed by millions of individuals in over 200 countries.

It is most popular in Central and Southern America, Africa, and Europe, but it is also gaining popularity in North America and Asia. There’s no doubt that soccer is by far the most appealing sport in the world right now.

The number of players on the field at one time depends on the rules of the soccer variant. If you are new to the sport, you may be confused about how many players are permitted to play at once on a soccer team, especially if you watch different variants of the game.

In this article, you will learn about the number of players allowed to play on the field at once for association football and other variants of soccer. Also, we will tell you whether a team can play with fewer or more players.

How many soccer players are on the field at one time?

In all the variants of soccer, a team with a particular number of players competes against another team with the same number of players on a field. Each side has a designated goalie as well as outfielders.

Depending on the type of soccer players and the size of the field used, the number of players allowed to play on the field at one time can range from 4 to 11. There is no currently existing variant of soccer that allows more than 11 players on a team to play at once during a match.

Outfield players often specialize in either attacking, defending, or both. A team is normally divided into midfielders, defenders, and attackers or forwards. However, players can move wherever they like during a match, including the goalkeeper.

The purpose of the game is to advance the ball into the opponent’s goal. This is the core aim of the 22 players present on the pitch at once in association football.

1. Association football

According to FIFA rules, the highest number of players on a soccer pitch (excluding replacements) is twenty-two. Each team can only have eleven players on the field at the same time.

The regulation first came into law in 1897, the same time that the match duration (90 minutes) and the halfway line were introduced to the sport. The regulation amendment in 1897 also reduced the maximum length of a pitch from 200 yards to 130 yards.

Inasmuch as 22 players must start a match in association football, that number may go down during a game. According to the Laws of the Game, certain offenses may attract a red card which will lead to the ejection of the offending player from the game.

When this happens, the game will still go on. A soccer team in association football can continue playing with less than 11 players but they mustn’t go below 7 players for each of the two teams.

four soccer players playing association football

In soccer history, the game with the highest number of cards was the 2006 FIFA World Cup clash between Portugal and the Netherlands.

In that game, 4 players got a red card while 16 other players got yellow cards. That means the game ended with just 18 players on the pitch.

The number of players in defense, midfield, or attack can vary depending on the formation used by the coach. However, there can only be one goalkeeper for each team.

The most popular formations are 4-4-2, 4-3-3, and 5-4-1. The first number represents the number of defenders while the second and third numbers represent the number of midfielders and attackers respectively.

 2. Indoor soccer

Indoor soccer, occasionally known as 6-aside football, is popular in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Indoor soccer is a variation of association football that is played in an enclosed arena.

It was created to enable soccer fans and players alike to enjoy the game throughout the cold and freezing winter season. Indoor soccer is governed by the World Mini-football Federation (WMF).

At any given moment, there are usually twelve players (six players per team) on the pitch of an indoor soccer arena.

six soccer players playing indoor soccer

Each team has a goalie who is responsible for shielding the goal post and attackers who are usually in charge of driving balls towards the other team’s half.

Strikers are also in charge of scoring goals and creating scoring chances.

3. Street soccer

Street soccer is a simpler version of association football. Many legendary soccer stars began their careers playing street soccer for fun.

Street soccer is played by two teams, each with a total of four players (including the goalkeeper). That means there are eight players on the field at one time.

five soccer players playing street soccer

Unlike other soccer variants, the rules for street soccer are more relaxed and usually agreed upon by the two teams before the start of the match.

Only goalkeepers play a specialized position in this variant of soccer, other players must use their skills, intelligence, and intuition to play either the defensive or offensive position at any point in the game.

4. Futsal soccer

Futsal may be thought of as a scaled-down version of association football due to certain similarities they share. It usually requires a smaller pitch and fewer players.

two soccer players in futsal soccer

FIFA established the game’s regulations and organized global competitions to promote the sport.

Futsal is played by two teams of five players on each side of the field. It has a goalie and 4 outfield players with an unlimited number of substitutes.

A futsal field can always have a maximum of ten players. These players fill the roles of goalie, defender, wingers, and pivot.

5. Beach soccer

This is a variation of association football that is played on a sandy field. It puts a player’s agility and precision to the test.

Beach Soccer Worldwide (BSW) is the official body in charge of making rules and organizing the sport. They are also responsible for coining the name “Beach Soccer.”

seven soccer players playing beach soccer

Beach soccer is played by two teams of five players each (including the goalkeeper). This means that there may only be a maximum of ten players on the beach soccer field at any given moment.

It allows for a maximum of five substitutions from a pool of five reserved players. Beach soccer players’ positions include goalies, defenders, and strikers.

What happens when there are too many soccer players on the field at one time?

The referee usually counts the number of players on the soccer pitch before a match begins to certify that they aren’t more than the official number. If there are more players on the field than required, the referee will:

  • Stop play
  • Evicts a player from the overpopulated team
  • Discipline the team if necessary

What if a goal is scored and there is an extra player on the field?

Whenever a goal is scored and the referee didn’t notice initially that there was an additional person on the field, the following decisions are likely to be made:

  • The goal will be disallowed if the additional person is a player on the scoring team
  • The goal might be allowed if the extra man is a member of the coaching staff of the conceding team or a rogue fan

When the goal is rejected, a direct freekick is awarded to the opponent’s side.


Soccer has a long history that goes back to the first regulations put together in the year 1863. It is a game in a constant phase of change, improvement, and evolution.

You would think that the fundamentals of soccer would always remain the same but the body responsible for governing the game is always creative with proposing and implementing new rules and regulations that will keep improving the sport.

However, according to the 2022 rules of the game, there may only be a maximum of twenty-two and a minimum of seven players on the soccer pitch at the same time. Each side has a maximum of eleven players and a minimum of seven players.

It wouldn’t be surprising to one day have more or fewer players on the soccer pitch at once from what we usually have today.