How Many Players on a Soccer Field?
According to the FIFA laws of the game, a professional soccer (football) match allows a maximum of 22 players on the field at any given time during the match. This includes 11 players per team (10 outfield players and one goalkeeper).
What is a Soccer Field?
The soccer field is the complete space enclosed between goal line to goal line and sideline to sideline. Regardless of the size of the field, each soccer field is defined within those terms when it comes to the rules around how many players can actively participate during a match.
Although each team can name 5 to 12 substitutes (depending on the competition), these players must remain off the field while the ball is in play during a match. When a player is substituted, the incoming player must wait for the outgoing player to exit the field completely before coming on. This ensures the maximum number of on field players is maintained.
Red Cards and Injuries
The referee must call off a game if any of the two sides can no longer field at least 7 players (including the goalkeeper). This can be due to:
- Players receiving red cards, or
- A team forced to take an injured player off the field with no more substitutions available.
Therefore the minimum number of players on a soccer field during a match is 14.
The only exception to the rule is during a penalty shootout. At this time even though the game is technically active, both teams typically gather together at the halfway line in solidarity and this includes the all substitutes and coaching staff.
Referees and other Officials
Besides the on field players, the referee is the only person allowed to be on the field while the ball is in play. However, both linesmen and the fourth official remain off the field during the game.
Although not part of the matchday officials, it is important to also note that medical personnel can only enter the field when the ball is out of play.
The above stipulations apply to the 11-a-side FIFA sanctioned men’s and women’s game. Different age groups (i.e. youth soccer) may not follow the same rules.