Soccer (or football) is one of the most popular sports in the world. It is played by people of all ages in nearly every country on the planet. Soccer players refer to their playing ground as a “pitch.” The typical adult soccer pitch is 81,000 square feet (1.86 acres), but field sizes vary depending on the skill and age of players as well as the location of the field.
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Soccer Field Dimensions for Youth and Students
Youth soccer pitches vary in size depending on the age of the players. Fields for 7 and 8-year-olds range from 5,400 to 13,500 square feet, or 0.12-0.31 acres. Children aged nine and ten play on fields ranging in size from 13,500 to 21,600 square feet (0.31 to 0.5 acres).
High school students often play on fields ranging in size from 49,500 to 86,400 square feet (1.14 to 1.98 acres). College soccer pitches must be between 72,450 and 81,000 square feet, or 1.66 and 1.98 acres, according to the NCAA.
Soccer Fields for Adults
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (International Federation of Association Football, or FIFA), the governing body for international soccer, has established a standard range for soccer field size of 69,300-86,400 square feet, or 1.59-1.98 acres. For tournaments like the World Cup, this is the range of field sizes. The optimal field size for them is 76,590 square feet, or 1.77 acres.
There are no predetermined field sizes in Major Competition Soccer (MLS), America’s professional soccer league. MLS does, however, require that soccer fields be no smaller than 69,300 square feet, or 1.59 acres.
Briana Scurry of the Atlanta Beat (and the United States Women’s National Team) receives the ball during a WUSA game in 2003. Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images/Getty Images
A Few Thoughts on Soccer Field Dimensions
Let’s have a look at how FIFA-standard soccer fields relate to other vast locations for a fun perspective. A typical private airport hangar is around 38,000 square feet, or 0.87 acres. It would easily fit inside a FIFA soccer field, which is 1.59 acres in size.
An American football field, which is 57,600 square feet (1.32 acres), would be dwarfed by a FIFA soccer pitch. At 90,000 square feet, or 2.07 acres, an average professional baseball field is slightly larger than even the largest FIFA soccer pitches.
The Origins of Soccer
Around 2,000 years ago, the game we now name soccer was invented in China. Similar sports can be found in Greece, Rome, and pre-Columbian America, but the Chinese version is the most modern. The earliest known soccer ball was discovered behind a wall of Scotland’s Stirling Castle, and it was dated to the 15th century.
The sport was created by the English and Scots into what it is today, with rules dating back to the late 1800s. Professional soccer clubs first emerged in Scotland in 1824, and have since spread across Europe and the rest of the world. FIFA estimates that 240 million people play soccer throughout the world now.
Soccer is popular in the United States.
Soccer in the United States has a deeper history than many people realise. There are records of colonists at Jamestown playing an early form of soccer, and Harvard started intramural soccer competitions in 1827. Following the Civil War, soccer became increasingly popular, with several Ivy League universities fielding teams. Professional teams began to form in the 1870s, playing a combination of soccer and rugby.
In 1912, FIFA first refused to admit the United States’ men’s squad, but a year later changed its mind. Professional men’s leagues that played the game in its purest form arose in the 1920s, and the United States fielded its first men’s World Cup team in 1930. In 1994, the men’s team hosted the United States’ first World Cup, and in 1996, Major League Soccer (MLS) began its inaugural season.
In the United States, women’s soccer is now played in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The NWSL was founded in 2012, following Women’s Professional Soccer (2007-2012) and Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003). In addition, the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) is the most successful international women’s soccer team, having won four FIFA World Cups, four Olympic gold medals, and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups.