How Many Players Are On A Soccer Team?

How Many Players Are On A Soccer Team?
(Photo by Greg Nelson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X163656 TK1)

Soccer, by myriad statistics, is regarded as the most popular sport game humans have ever invented. While this may not be apparent in the United States, statistics after statistics show that soccer is the most followed game on the planet, and by a significant margin too.

Despite this fact, a lot of people, including die-hard fans, often struggle with understanding exactly how the game works.

With the consistent rule tweaks and technicalities that encompass the game, it’s easy to understand why so many people may have a hard time keeping up with what exactly the terms of the game may be.

While you’ll think that the answer to a question as basic as “how many players are on a soccer team” will be relatively straightforward, it boils down to certain nuances.

One may have to clarify if it is a reference to how many players are on the field during play or how many players are part of the entire team, including potential substitutes and, in some cases, players out on loan.

While by internationally recognized standards, the number of on-field players is often rigid, the number of players in an entire team may vary from country to country or depending on the specific competition. This article will provide a comprehensive answer to how many players are on a soccer team? As well as other frequently asked questions about the number of players in a soccer team at any given time.

How Many Players Are On An “On-field” Soccer Team?

How Many Players Are On A Soccer Team?
(Photo by Greg Nelson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (Set Number: X163656 TK1)

A standard football match is played by two teams which must consist of eleven players on each side, which means twenty-two players are one the pitch in total.

A team of eleven players includes a goalkeeper, also often called a stopper, and ten outfield players who have specific positions and roles.

These positions or roles are typically grouped as defenders, midfielders, and attackers.

Teams, however, have the option of replacing an on-field player with another player called a substitute. These substitutes are a part of the entire team and are referred to as “THE BENCH.”

A substitute from the bench can be brought in to replace an on-field player in cases of injury or at the discretion of the coach.

Players can also ask to be replaced during the match. When a substitution is made, the player who is replaced cannot rejoin the match for the remaining duration of the active match.

The number of players on a team may vary in less formal matches, which are often not regarded as mainstream. In such matches, teams may be made up of seven or even five players, commonly referred to as “five-a-side” or “seven-a-side.” In such matches, substitutes may be allowed to return as the rules are not as rigid as in mainstream matches.

How Many Players Are On A Soccer Team Bench In A Match?

How Many Players Are On A Soccer Team Bench In A Match?
(Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The bench consists of potential substitutes and other team staff, often including the team coach. This may vary depending on prevalent rules in a country or competition.

FIFA rules stipulate that a total number of 26 people will be allowed on a team’s bench, with 15 players joined by a maximum of 11 team staff. While the Champions League often allows up to twelve players, this can be different from other competitions.

The standard bench is made up of seven potential substitutes, which usually includes one goalkeeper. Although a recent rule tweak ahead of the 2021/22 football season in the English premier league had allowed teams to include nine players on the bench instead of seven.

In the US Major League Soccer, teams are permitted to make 5 substitutions per game.

Substitutions are made at the discretion of the team when the ball is put out of play. Teams may decide not to make any substitutions during the entire course of the match.

What Happens When A Soccer Player Is Sent Off?

While the number of players of a team involved in a football match must be eleven, this may not be the case if a player is sent off.

A sent-off player cannot be allowed to continue in a match which reduces the number of active players. A player is sent off when they receive a red card. Substitutes and coaches can also receive red cards, which also reduces the number of individuals on the bench.

How many players can be sent off in soccer?

A team may receive more than one red card, which will reduce the number of on-field players accordingly. However, the maximum number of red cards a team can receive is 4, which would reduce the number of on-field players to 7, including the goalkeeper.

Once a team gets their 5th red card, the match would end, resulting in a loss for the team who are left with less than 7 players even if they were winning the match.

A goalkeeper can also be given a red card and sent off. In this case, the team coach can make a substitution of another player for a goalkeeper, or one of the players may replace the goalkeeper.

Can A Soccer Player Leave The Pitch Without Being Substituted?

In rare cases, a player may be faced with a bathroom emergency, where they have to use the toilet.

Most players wait until halftime for this, but under very urgent circumstances, the player could ask the referee to step off the field and then go to the bathroom, leaving his team down a man until he returns and reducing the number of active on-field players.

When he returns, he then would need the referee’s permission to rejoin the match.

How Many Players Make Up An Entire Soccer Team?

Again this may vary from country to country or according to a competition. In most international clubs, there is usually a quota allotted specifically to homegrown players.

Homegrown players are domestic players who are nationals of a specific country. To be considered a homegrown player, a player must either be born in a country, have biological ties to the country, or have lived in the country for a certain period.

This rule is implemented to allow for more domestic players to be developed from an earlier age in the hope of nurturing more homegrown talent.

In the United States, a Major League Soccer club’s active roster is comprised of up to 30 players. All 30 players are eligible for selection to the game-day squad during the regular season and playoffs.

These 30 players are divided into groups which include; The senior rooster, which is made up of a maximum of 20 players, and a supplemental rooster with a maximum of 10 players.

While the English Premier League allows for a total of 25 players, which must include at least 8 senior homegrown players, the other 17 may be non-homegrown. A non-home-grown player can be of any nationality and age.

In Europe’s top competition, The UEFA champions league allows for a maximum of 25 List A players, which must include two goalkeepers.

Out of the 25 players, a minimum of 8 must be homegrown players. If a club has fewer than eight locally trained players in their squad, then the maximum number of players on List A is reduced accordingly.

How Many Players Are In A Soccer Team Including Substitutes?

The number of players in a soccer match including substitutes may vary according to the number of substitutes allowed in the tournament. However, the typical number is 11 on-field players, plus 12 potential substitutes (which usually includes two goalkeeper), making it 23 in total.

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