How Large Is a Soccer Field in Acres?

Photo Courtesy: Shaun Botterill/UEFA/Getty Images

Soccer (or football, as it’s known outside of the United States) is one of the most popular sports in the world. It’s played by all ages in most every country in the world. Soccer fans often refer to their field as a “pitch.” The average soccer field for adult play is 81,000 square feet, or 1.86 acres, but the sizes of soccer fields vary based on the level and age of players and where the field is located. 

Youth and Student Soccer Field Sizes

Youth soccer fields are different sizes based on the age of the kids playing. For 7 and 8-year-olds, fields are in the range of 5,400-13,500 square feet, or 0.12-0.31 acres. Nine- and 10-year olds play on fields that range from 13,500 to 21,600 square feet, or 0.31 to 0.5 acres. Typically, high school students play on fields that are between 49,500 and 86,400 square feet, or 1.14 and 1.98 acres. The NCAA mandates that college soccer fields range between 72,450 and 81,000 square feet, or 1.66 and 1.98 acres.

Adult Soccer Fields

The governing body for international soccer, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (International Federation of Association Football, or FIFA) has set its standard range for soccer field dimensions at 69,300-86,400 square feet, or 1.59-1.98 acres. This is the range for field sizes for competitions like the World Cup. Their optimum field size is 76,590 square feet, which equals 1.77 acres.

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For Major League Soccer (MLS), America’s professional soccer league, there’s no set standard for field sizes. However, MLS does stipulate that its soccer fields be no smaller than 69,300 square feet, which is 1.59 acres.

World Cup and Gold Medal-winning goalkeeper Briana Scurry of the Atlanta Beat (and USWNT) catches the ball during a WUSA game in 2003. Photo Courtesy: Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

A Little Perspective on Soccer Field Sizes

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For a fun perspective of how FIFA-standard soccer fields shape up compared to other large spaces, let’s do some comparison. A standard private airport hangar is about 38,000 square feet, which is equivalent to 0.87 acres. It could easily fit inside a minimum-sized FIFA soccer field, which is 1.59 acres.

A minimum FIFA soccer field would also dwarf an American football field, which is 57,600 square feet, or 1.32 acres. An average professional baseball field is slightly larger than even the largest FIFA soccer fields at 90,000 square feet, or 2.07 acres.

A History of Soccer

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The game Americans now call soccer originated in China around 2,000 years ago. Similar sports originated in Greece, Rome and pre-Columbian America, but the Chinese game is closest to the modern version. Archaeologists found the oldest known soccer ball inside a wall of Scotland’s Stirling Castle, and they dated it to the 15th century. 

The English and Scots developed the sport into what it generally is today, with rules dating back to the end of the 19th century. Professional soccer clubs began in 1824 in Scotland, and they continued to grow throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Today, FIFA claims that 240 million people play soccer throughout the world.

Soccer in the United States

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Soccer has had a longer history in the United States than many people would believe. There are records of the colonists at Jamestown playing an early form of the sport, and Harvard began intramural soccer competition as early as 1827. Soccer grew in popularity after the Civil War, with several Ivy League colleges fielding teams. In the 1870s, professional teams emerged playing a hybrid of soccer and rugby.

FIFA initially didn’t allow the United States’ men’s team to join its ranks in 1912, but relented a year later. In the 1920s, professional men’s leagues that played a pure form of the game cropped up, and the United States fielded its first men’s World Cup team in 1930. The men’s side hosted the United States’ first World Cup in 1994, and, a few years later, Major League Soccer (MLS) kicked off its first season in 1996. 

As far as women’s soccer in the U.S. goes, players currently compete in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Established in 2012, the NWSL was preceded by Women’s Professional Soccer (2007-2012) and Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003). Moreover, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) is the most successful international women’s soccer team and has four FIFA World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups to prove it. 

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