Skip to Content
The Pitch is Ours is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more

Why Does Soccer Have 11 Players? | 5 Logical Reasons

Why Does Soccer Have 11 Players? | 5 Logical Reasons

Soccer is not only popular because it is an interesting sport, but it is also popular because it is a team sport. And a team in soccer is made up of 11 players. So the number of players differs from that of many other sports.

Nothing in human life comes without reason, not even in sport. For example, we have 11 players in a team in soccer, and that does not come arbitrarily.

The average fan simply accepts many aspects of soccer without inquiry. So why are there not two assistants on each side of the field, for instance, so that issues along the line may be adjudicated more clearly?

Why isn’t it possible for goalies to just throw out the goal kicks instead of kicking them? Why are there 11 players on each team?

The basic reality is that numerous decisions were made during soccer’s early years, for which the people in charge felt there was no need to explain their reasons. However, the modern-day players are left to speculate and try to figure it out for themselves.

In this article, you will know the reasons why the game of soccer has 11 players in a team on the pitch.

Why does soccer have 11 players?

Like earlier said, many soccer fans would have been wondering the reasons behind the decision to have only 11 players play for a team in a soccer match. However, some might not have thought about it until now.

Either you have been wondering earlier, or now this section of the article is dedicated to bringing answers to the unanswered questions on your mind concerning this.

soccer team with 11 soccer players wearing red jerseys

Decisions based on the size of the pitch

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body responsible for deciding the size of the soccer pitch. The International Football Association Board oversees soccer, not American football. It is necessary to clarify this to avoid misunderstanding.

Many countries in Europe, South America, and some other parts of the world where the game is well-known call it “soccer.”

The decision of the International Football Association Board was not without thought after all. Considering the size they agree that the soccer pitch should be, it will not be a balanced decision to agree on some players that are more or less than 11.

The length of a soccer pitch should be between one hundred and thirty yards (this is the same as ninety to one hundred twenty meters), and the width of a soccer field is meant to be between fifty and one hundred yards (which is the same as forty-five to ninety yards).

a man is leading soccer ball

Even though American football also has the similarity of having only eleven players on the pitch at a time for a team. The field for the game is smaller compared to that of soccer.

For a field speculated by the International Football Association Board, it will be needed to have eleven players to be able to cover.

Another reason related to the size of the pitch why the International Football Association Board only allows eleven players for a team in a soccer match is because of the movement on the pitch.

After the board considered the size of the pitch, they knew that soccer was not a static game. There is a real need for movement. The ball needs to move, and players need to move it with the aim of landing it at the back of the net of their opponent.

But to get this done, players will need to make runs, and for there to be enough space for players, the board thought it wise to allow only eleven players to be in a soccer team on the pitch for soccer matches.

To make the game of soccer unique

When you consider the lane of history, soccer may appear to have been around for a long time, but it is a very new sport.

Of course, this isn’t to say that games with soccer-like characteristics haven’t existed for a long time. Indeed, the Italian sport of Calcio Fiorentino is sometimes referred to as “historic football” to illustrate this argument.

It originated in Italy around the 16th century and was formerly commonly played throughout the country. However, many think it was initially played in Florence’s Piazza Santa Croce, where it was dubbed “Giuoco del Calcio Fiorentino,” or “the Florentine kick game.”

To emphasize its connection to contemporary soccer, association football in Italy is referred to as “Calcio.”

Calcio Fiorentino had 27 players on each team, with no room for substitutes. Therefore, four goalies, five halfbacks, three fullbacks, and fifteen forwards would make up the players on a team in this sport.

As a result, it would have been significantly more chaotic than the modern game of soccer. A distinctive way soccer has come to distinguish itself from this sport is by making the players in a team eleven.

When you consider the similarities between the two sports, there is a need to make soccer come out better. That was one of the reasons why the decision to make soccer players only eleven on the pitch was made.

And to think, soccer is an upgrade to some old games like Calcio Fiorentino, where 27 players are expected to be on the same pitch.

Due to the nuances of this game, soccer makes itself a better option for people as an upgraded choice where every position can be functional even with a reduced number.

For example, having four goalkeepers on a single team will reduce the effectiveness of their work as they might not have all the space they will need to perform their functions.

Also, the defensive strength of the game looks slightly weak with only three players, unlike in modern-day soccer, where legends like Jose Mourinho have made a name written in gold through their defensive prowess.

The Portuguese manager is even known for a unique tactic called “pack the box.” On the other hand, this defensive tactic is known for its ability to frustrate the opponent’s attack by blocking every opportunity of attack launched against his team.

The attacking part of the sport is the only part that is more focused on with a huge number of seventeen players.

This is enough to cause rowdiness, but soccer came as a better option, with a limited number of forwards but with consideration of midfielders and wingers to enhance the effectiveness of teams on the soccer pitch.


One of the most important things in soccer is the harmony that exudes within the team after playing together for a while. To be able to gel together as a soccer team, there is a need for a number of players on the pitch.

Out of the number of players they have, a soccer team is allowed to pick eleven players from the best they have. And this is dependent on the manager’s handpicking the ones he thinks will give good results for the team.

With eleven players on the soccer pitch, there can be a rhythm to how soccer players play. Players can give precise passes with the knowledge that their team consists of 10 other teammates.

man in white soccer jersey kicking a soccer ball

To explain that better, imagine having a team with 18 players on the pitch, approved by the International Football Association Board. The space will not be enough to have players play in harmony. There will be a lot of mistakes, injuries, and many other nuances in such a match.

Or, imagine having only seven players on the same pitch approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

There will be too much space, thereby causing a lot of miscalculation, space for counter-attacks, and many other things that can cost teams their victory in such matches.

To encourage precision and harmony in the soccer game, considering the cases cited earlier, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) made a very wise decision only to restrict the number of players that will play for a soccer team to 11.

More room for substitutes

Just as the International Football Association Board (IFAB) is concerned about the health of soccer players, they are concerned about helping the team in cases of emergency by reserving some players for every team on the bench.

And by this, only 11 players will be liable to play in a match. The strength level of some players might drastically reduce in the course of a match so that there will be options to come back to.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) makes a rule that ensures that every soccer team will have some fresh legs preserved on the bench for emergencies like that. Or even in cases of injury or bad performance from any player who is already on the pitch.

Even when a soccer player from a team gets sent off the pitch, the formation of the team might go from being balanced to not being so.

5 kid soccer substitutes waiting for their turns

So, since the decision of having only eleven players on the pitch allowed having some fresh legs on the bench, the coach could balance things up by making some substitutions to get back into the game.

There have been many cases where the inclusion of substitutes, which was made possible by allowing only 11 soccer players in a game, creates surprises. Some pleasant surprises are that the team’s winning or dominating was determined by the new legs introduced to the team.

And also, since soccer is known to be a game full of ups and downs, the introduction of some substitutes has cost many teams their victory or even qualification for some tournaments.

But these are thrilling moments that make soccer unique and unpredictable, and they were brought about by the decision to field only 11 soccer players in a team in a soccer match.

Influence of Cricket 

In the formative years of soccer, some already established sports took the interest of many. Cricket is one of the sports that already had a lot of influence in the formative years of soccer.

In addition, cricket, a popular sport, is known to allow 11 players from a team in their matches. The decision of eleven players per team in soccer might also be as easy as that. Soccer’s early years were strongly connected with cricket.

boy hitting cricket ball

The two sports had nothing in common in terms of regulations, yet soccer matches were frequently held on cricket fields because they were the only big places accessible.

The planet’s first international soccer game was held at the Oval in Kennington (a popular international cricket pitch). Many athletes and teams played cricket and soccer on the pitch back in those days.


There are a lot of things in the world that many take without questioning. But, unfortunately, the facts behind having eleven soccer players in a team for every match game implemented by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) is one of those things.

Though some are inquisitive about the topic, there is not much information on it, but it has been discovered that among those things that were considered is the size of the pitch allowed for the game. And 11 will be the perfect number of players per team for the size.

Also, soccer has a lot of historical connections with the Italian Calcio Fiorentino, where 27 players are allowed at a go. But soccer is an improved version with a well-balanced and improved setting, and having 11 players in a team is part of the improvements.

The decision to have 11 players is also connected to the connection between the sport and cricket in its formative years. Cricket was a well-established sport by then, and it had 11 players in a team.