You’ve noticed it, right? Even in the same top-level competition (like the Premier League or the Bundesliga), soccer fields seem to differ when it comes to their dimensions.
But is it possible? Can soccer pitchdimensions vary? Are there really different soccer field sizes or are they equal in size?
Soccer fields can have different sizes: ranging between 100 yds (90 m) and 130 yds (120 m) for the touchline’s length and between 50 yds (45 m) and 100 yds (90 m) for the goal line’s width at professional level and in the U.S. Youth National League games following FIFA’s requirements for field size.
Let’s now understand the reasons behind these variations and why they happen.
Are Soccer Fields Different Sizes?
Soccer fields are not all the same size. Their dimensions can be different at the youth, semi and professional levels within certain limitations.
Unlike other sports where field and court dimensions must strictly follow regulation sizes, soccer fields are allowed to vary in length and width.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) defines these (and other) regulations. FIFA and all its confederations follow the IFAB’s directions on their competitions.
Outside of professional and youth soccer competitions (like the U-17 World Cup or the U.S Youth National League), soccer field dimensions have no regulated requirements.
As far as younger soccer players are related, the dimensions of the playing ground will reflect their age group. The younger they are, the smaller the soccer field.
What Are the Dimensions of a Soccer Field?
Soccer Field Dimensions for National Soccer Games
IFAB’s “Law 1 – The Field of Play” subparagraph 3 stipulates that playing grounds for national soccer matches must have:
- Touchlines between 100 yards (90 meters) and 130 yards (120 meters) in length;
- Goal lines between 50 yards (45 meters) and 100 yards (90 meters) in width.
The same subparagraph — titled “Dimensions” — reminds that the touchline can not be shorter than the goal line.
Furthermore, it adds that it is up to each competition to determine the length and width of the touchline and goal line, respectively, within the allowed ranges.
Dimensions of Professional Soccer Fields for International Matches
As far as international matches are concerned, the allowed size variations are stricter.
Subparagraph 4 of the same “Law 1” — titled “Dimensions for international matches” — specifies that the:
- Touchlines’ length can vary between 110 yards (100 meters) and 120 yards (110 meters), and;
- Goal lines’ width can vary between 70 yards (64 meters) and a maximum of 80 yards (75 meters).
Like before, international competitions may determine the exact length and width within the allowed dimensions.
|National||100 yds (90 m) – 130 yds (120 m)||50 yds (45 m) – 100 yds (90 m)|
|International||110 yds (100 m) – 120 yds (110 m)||70 yds (64 m) – 80 yds (75 m)|
How Big is the Potential Playing Field Size Difference?
These variations account for a substantial difference in potential field dimensions.
The same national competition can have soccer fields with 5,000 square yards (4,050 square meters) and much bigger pitches with 13,000 square yards (10800 square meters)
That’s whopping 8,000 sq. yds. (6,450 sq. m.) difference!
The same international tournament can have playing grounds as small as 7,700 square yards(6,400 sq. m.) and as big as 9,600 sq. yds. (8,250 sq. m.).
That’s still an impressive 1,900 sq. yds. (1,850 sq. m.) difference!
|Scope||Square Yards (Square Meters)||Difference|
|National||5,000 sq. yds. (4,050 sq. m.) – 13,000 sq. yds.(10,800 sq. m.)||8,000 sq. yds. (6,450 sq. m.)|
|International||7,700 sq. yds. (6,400 sq. m.) – 9,600 sq. yds. (8,250 sq. m.)||1,900 sq. yds. (1,850 sq. m.)|
However, this could only happen in theory. Probably all professional soccer competitions have stricter allowed size variations.
Optimum Soccer Field Size
There’s no official fixed size for the field of play in soccer.
However, by analyzing the top competitions and clubs worldwide, we could say that there is an optimum soccer field size: 105 meters x 68 meters (115 yards long, 74 yards wide).
All of the following stadiums (and clubs) have adopted the 105 m. x 68 m. dimensions as the optimum size for their playing grounds:
- Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid) and Camp Nou (Barcelona);
- Parc des Princes (Paris Saint-Germain);
- Johan Cruijff ArenA (Ajax);
- Maracanã (Flamengo and Fluminense);
- La Bombonera (Boca Juniors) and El Monumental (River Plater);
- Estadio Azteca (Club América and Cruz Azul);
The best soccer leagues in the World (like the Premier League, La Liga, and the Bundesliga) also follow the same rule for pitch size dimensions. (There are exceptions in the case of stadium limitations.)
The importance of the 105 m x 68 m optimum soccer field size is even more evident when looking at UEFA’s stadium categories.
To classify for the highest categories (3 and 4), a stadium needs to have a 105 m. x 68 m. sized field of play. These are fixed dimensions — there are no allowed variation ranges like before.
Only category four-rated stadiums can host Champions League matches. (And also Europa League, Europa Conference League, Nations League games, and the big final of UEFA’s European Cup.)
That’s why the 105 m. x 68 m. field size is becoming a global standard and the recommended pitch size for most new stadiums.
Why Are Soccer Fields Different Sizes?
Why Isn’t There a Standard Fixed Pitch Size?
Here are some reasons why there isn’t a standard fixed pitch size.
One of the main reasons some competitions (like the English Premier League or the Bundesliga) may feature different sized soccer fields is because of the dimensions of each stadium.
There are a lot of soccer clubs close to or over 100 years old, especially in Europe. Unsurprisingly, many stadiums are decades old, some almost 150 years old.
Goodison Park, Everton’s home ground, is the perfect example of an old stadium still in use. The Grand Old Lady, as it is known, was built in 1892. Its pitch size is only 109 yards (100 m.) x 74.4 yards (68 m.).
It’s so small that it fails to meet the English Premier League’s Rule K. 15 for soccer fields dimensions of 114.8 yards (105 m.) long and 74.4 yards (68 m.) wide.
Other Premier League stadiums’ pitches (Stamford Bridge [Chelsea], Anfield [Liverpool], and Selhurst Park [Crystal Palace]) also don’t meet EPL’s regulation sizes.
Nevertheless, Rule K. 16 offers these clubs permission to use their pitches “if it is impossible (…) to comply with Rule K. 15 due to the nature of the construction” of their stadium.
As referred above, several stadiums are ages old. Back then, rules for field sizes were different or unexistent.
If Rule K. 16 didn’t exist, it would force the abandonment of many historic stadiums with small pitches. That would somehow hurt soccer and the history of soccer itself.
Furthermore, it is not exactly easy or unexpensive to build a new stadium or undertake massive reconstruction work, even today.
As for larger playing fields, those would have to reduced. That could also hurt spectators’ experience as they could be put farther away from the field of play.
Team Quality / Style of Play
Team quality may also play a role when choosing or maintaining the size of a soccer field.
More offensive, stronger teams tend to have more technical players who enjoy more space to dribble and speed away from the opposing defense. Such sides greatly benefit from a longer and wider home pitch.
Regardless of the preferred attacking strategy, be it quick transitions between defense and attack or a continuous offensive posture, the more space is available, the better. Defending against it will become increasingly difficult.
On the other hand, smaller soccer fields are more advantageous for more defensive, weaker teams.
Typically, this type of team has fewer technical players, weaker physical abilities, and, as such, less offensive power.
In soccer, loosely speaking, defending is simpler than attacking. (Scoring more goals than your opponents is the primary objective, after all.) And, with fewer ground to cover, that statement becomes truer.
With less space available, positioning your players behind the ball, in front of your goal, and on the sides (in other words, parking the bus) becomes less complex and more effective.
It makes it extra harder for the better teams who, as stated previously, need more room to unbalance defending teams.
Soccer Club’s Budget
Soccer field dimensions may also vary due to a club’s budget.
Mowing, watering, draining, building, planting, replanting, getting rid of viruses, and keeping a pitch in tip-top form is not cheap.
The bigger the field, the more expensive all these maintenance jobs are.
The higher the division a soccer team plays under, the more demanding the rules and requirements for pitch quality and stadium conditions are.
When a soccer club gets promoted, its budget will have to reflect the necessary soccer field alterations. They may need to improve, renew, or entirely replace their turf.
As they have other expenses to consider (like signing new players and doing some construction work in their stadium), they will try to save money in other areas.
That might mean opting for a smaller soccer field to lower maintenance and investment costs.
Can Pitch Dimensions Impact Different Styles of Play?
Pitch dimensions can have an impact on a team’s style of play.
The size of the playing surface can hinder or potentiate the success of a team’s style of play.
Some styles of play need larger pitches to be effective, while others work best on smaller grounds.
When a team has to play on a football field whose dimensions don’t favor their style of play, they will struggle much harder to succeed.
Let’s look at some styles of play and their preferred soccer pitch dimensions.
Offensive Style of Play
Attacking sides flourish on larger playing surfaces because their play style consists in expanding their players on the pitch to try and unbalance the opposing team’s defense.
The best soccer clubs will develop various attacking options: through the middle and the sides. This type of game plan thrives when there’s more space available.
Likewise, teams that use Positional Play also prefer more room. In this style of play, each player is responsible for a different zone on the soccer pitch.
The main goal of Positional Play is to draw the opponent to one side of the pitch so that they weaken the other side. Then, quickly change the game flow to the opposite, now-weakened side and score.
For this to be effective, you need bigger pitches.
Defensive Style of Play
On the other hand, teams that position themselves in a low block will have an easier job defending the smaller the playing ground.
The same goes for defensive sides who play a long-ball game.
Long Ball is a counter-attacking style of play where the goalkeeper or a defender does a long-distance aerial pass (or kick) over the midfield to the attack. This type of direct approach play becomes more effective in smaller pitches.
In addition, teams with long-throw and free-kick specialists also prefer smaller pitches since it gets them closer to creating goal opportunities.
For these reasons (and others), many weaker sides will often reduce their football field size to the minimum dimensions allowed in the Rules of Soccer.
Youth Soccer Field Dimensions
Most youth competitions also meet IFAB/FIFA requirements for field dimensions.
As an example, the US Youth National Leagues Program consists of a series of championships for age groups going from Under 12 up to Under 19 years old.
Their rule 17.04, titled “Field Size”, states that fields for all age groups must follow FIFA requirements for field dimensions. (The only difference from adult competitions pertains to match length.)
Players who are younger than Under 12, however, are free to play their soccer matches on much smaller soccer fields.
What Size is a Youth Soccer Field?
There are three different soccer field sizes in youth soccer — each corresponding to a specific age group and respective game standard.
Youth players between the ages of 7 and 11 qualify for small-sided game standards.
(Small-sided game standards are youth soccer matches with fewer players, shorter game durations, a few different rules, smaller pitch dimensions, goals, and soccer balls. All to optimize skill development.)
Youth Soccer Age Groups and Respective Game Standards
- 7 to 8 years old: 7v7 (small-sided);
- 10 and 11-year-olds: 9v9 (small-sided);
- 12 years old and older: 11v11.
7v7 Youth Soccer Field Size (Under 8 – Under 10)
The recommended pitch size for a 7-on-7 youth soccer match is:
- Touchlines between 55 yards (50 meters) and 65 yards (60 meters) in length;
Goal lines between 35 yards (32 meters) and 45 yards (42 meters) in width.
9v9 Youth Soccer Field Size (U11 – U12)
A 9a-side youth soccer field should have:
- Touchlines whose length varies between 70 yards (64 meters) and 80 yards (75 meters);
- Goal lines whose width varies between 45 yards (42 meters) and a maximum of 55 yards (50 meters).
11v11 Youth Soccer Field Size (U13 – U19)
The recommended playing ground dimensions for this age group are:
- Between 110 yards (100 meters) and 120 yards (110 meters) for the length of the touchline;
- Between 60 (55 meters) and 80 yards (75 meters) for the width of the goal line.
You can further divide this age group into two subgroups with distinct field sizes for improved skill development.
- Pitch size for the 12 to 14 age subgroup: touchline 100 – 110 yds. (90 – 100 m.); goal line 60 – 70 yds. (55 – 65 m.).
Pitch size for the 15 to 18 age subgroup: touchline 110 – 120 yds. (100 – 110 m.); goal line 70 – 80 yds. (65 – 75 m.).
What Is the Official Size of a Professional Soccer Field?
There is no official fixed regulation size for professional soccer fields. Professional soccer clubs’ playing grounds are not all the same size.
FIFA rules allow professional soccer pitches to vary between 100 yards (90 meters) and 130 yards (120 meters) long and between 50 yards (45 meters) and 100 yards (90 meters) wide.
Is There a Standard Size Soccer Field?
There isn’t a standard soccer field size nor standard pitch measurements at professional or non-professional levels.
There is, however, a preferred or optimum soccer field size for many professional soccer clubs: 105 meters in length by 68 meters in width (115 yards x 74 yards).
Are Premier League Pitches Different Sizes?Are All Premier League Fields the Same Size?
Premier League pitches are not all the same size. England’s top football championship pitch dimensions vary.
In 2012, the organizing body of the Premier League attempted to standardize pitch sizes to 114.8 yards long and 74.4 yards wide (or 105 meters x 68 meters).
However, not all clubs manage to comply with that determination because their stadium dimensions make it impossible.
Are MLS Soccer Fields Different Sizes?
All MLS soccer fields are not the same size. >MLS standards require field dimensions need to be at a minimum of 70 yards (64 meters) in width and 110 yards (100 meters) in length.
This means that clubs are allowed to have wider and longer playing fields than what’s required, which is exactly what happens.