32 Facts About Soccer That You Need to Know

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my world: The fascinating world of soccer, the most popular sport in the world.

And a sport as immense as soccer, with so many playing the beautiful game, there are many facts about soccer that the world must know…

Like did you know a player once ran 16 km in one game? Or that a game once lasted over 3 hours??

So whether you’re a huge soccer fan, a complete newbie like I once was, or even a player looking to get better at soccer, sit back and relax because I gathered these 31 facts about soccer that everyone must know so they can flex at their next watch party.

Basic Facts about Soccer

1. There are about 250 million soccer players in the world

This means that more than 3% of the world’s population plays soccer.

Among those 275 million:

  • 130 000 are professionals

  • 29 million are women

  • The top 3 exporting soccer countries are Brazil, France, and Argentina (in order)

2. There are roughly 3.5 billion fans worldwide

Fans have different names depending on where you stay: We have the supporters in England and France, the Tifosi in Italy, and the Ultras (the more extreme kind).

stadium, sports, fans

3. FIFA is the largest football association in the world (soccer association)

FIFA stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association in French (International Organization of Football Association in English)

Each continent has its own governing bodies:

  • Europe: UEFA, which stands for the Union of European Football Association

  • Asia: AFC, which stands for Asian Football Confederation

  • North America, Central America, and Caribbean: CONCACAF, which stands for Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football

  • Africa: CAF, which stands for Confederation of African Football

  • South America: CONMEBOL, which stands for Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol

Each governing body has its own tournament, which includes the likes of the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

4. There are over 300 soccer leagues worldwide

The most popular ones are the ”Big 5”, which include the Premier League (PL) in England, the Bundesliga in Germany, LaLiga in Spain, Serie A in Italy, and the Ligue 1 in France.

In American soccer, there are 3 divisions of 5 leagues:

Pyramid of the us soccer system.
US Soccer League Structure

5. The largest soccer stadium in the world has a capacity of 150 000 people

Located in Pyongyang, North Korea, the Rungrado 1st of May stadium is the largest soccer stadium in the world.

The runners-up are both American stadiums with the Michigan Stadium (107 000) and the Ohio Stadium (102 000).

Beginners’ Soccer facts

If you are a beginner in the sport who needs to learn a few stuff, here are some quick facts to get you up to date.

6. Soccer has 17 Official Rules (Laws)

These rules include how long a game is played, fields, and regulations.

Each soccer rule covers different laws such as offside, outs and ins, and soccer equipment.

Also, these rules answer the biggest question that beginners ask: What are offsides in soccer?

An offside is when a player is behind the last defender’s line at the exact moment the ball leaves the passer’s foot.

It used to be ensured by a linesman only, but in 2018 VAR (Video Assistant Referee) was introduced to give the most detailed offside calls ever.

Failure to obey the in-game rules results in offenses or warnings (we call them fouls) and eventually the cards.

Regular soccer rules differ from other versions of the sport such as futsal (indoor soccer) or beach soccer.

A yellow card is a ”last warning” for a player, before a red card (ejection from the game).

Note: 2 yellow cards offenses result in a red card and a 1 game ban, but a straight red card means a serious offense and a 3 games ban.

7. A game of soccer is played for 90 minutes (2 halves of 45 minutes), with extra time (basically the lost time of getting the ball and attending injuries)

The clock never stops in soccer, even when the ball is out of play. This is why we have extra time at the end of each half.

8. There are eleven players on the field for each team

Each player has a position:

  • Goalkeeper

  • Central Defender

  • Wingback (Right-back or Left-back)

  • Central Defensive Midfielder

  • Central Midfielder

  • Offensive Midfielder

  • Wingers (Right Winger or Left Winger)

  • Striker (Main Attacker)
Facts about soccer: visual representation of soccer positions and numbers.
Placement and Number of Each Position in Soccer

9. On the field, there are 4 referees

They consist of:

  • The official

  • Two linesmen

  • The 4th who oversees substitutions, and watches over the managers (coaches)

With the addition of VAR, we can say that there are more than 4 soccer referees in a game.

10. A soccer field can range from 98 x 45 yards to 131 x 98 yards

Mostly natural grass, it can sometimes be artificial grass or hybrid (mix of both)

11. Soccer nets are 24 feet Wide, 8 Feet Tall, and 5 Feet Deep

These are the size of the official soccer nets.

goal, sport, football

Soccer Records

Now that everyone is up to date and knows the basics, let’s dive into some interesting soccer records.

12. Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-ever goalscorer with over 850 goals for club and country

Although some claim it is Brazilian soccer player Pele with over 1,000 goals, there is no way of verifying the facts since the 1970s record-keeping was not that trustworthy.

Ronaldo has many records to his name, one of them being the only male player to score in 5 FIFA World Cups.

When it comes to soccer, Ronaldo is one of the strongest players and best finisher to ever play the sport.

player, soccer player, cristiano ronaldo

13. Lionel Messi is the most decorated soccer player ever with 44 titles won as of 2023.

His most notorious and iconic is the Qatar FIFA World Cup trophy, in which he went on an all-out war against Mbappé’s France.

He also holds the absurd Guinness World Record for the most goals scored in a single calendar year with 91 goals in 2012.

Lionel Messi is the only player who holds 8 Ballon D’or, a trophy presented by France Football rewarding the best player in a single year.

Since they started to record stats, Messi is considered the best dribbler in the history of the game with 1880 take-ons completed.

14. Sir Alex Ferguson is the most decorated manager with 49 titles

Sir Alex Ferguson is known for his time at one of the biggest clubs in the world, Manchester United. He turned this team into a dominating force in England and in Europe.

During his reign, he signed an 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting. Many call him the creator of CR7.

15. Real Madrid is the most decorated club in History with 30 international major trophies

Real Madrid is simply the biggest and strongest club in Football History.

16. Just Fontaine scored 13 goals in 1958, the most FIFA World Cup goals in a single tournament

Miroslav Klose of Germany is the highest-ever FIFA World Cup goal scorer with 16 goals.

17. Christine Sinclair is the highest woman scorer with 190 international goals scored

The Canadian forward surpassed 2 U.S. legends: Abby Wambach (184 goals) and Mia Hamm (158).

18. Brazil is the country that won the Fifa World Cup the most (5 times)

Did you know? The FIFA World Cup trophy is not given to the winning team. They are given a replica. Instead, the original trophy goes back to the Fifa World Football Museum in Zurich, Switzerland.

19. Marcelo Brozovic holds the record for the most distance covered in a single soccer game.

He covered 16,3 km vs Japan in the Fifa World Cup 2022, although it included extra time (120 minutes of playtime).

Interesting Soccer Facts

Now let’s dive into some interesting and bizarre soccer facts to have a laugh and to share at our next soccer meetup.

20. The Highest scoring game in soccer history is 149-0

It was in Madagascar, where As Adema scored 149 against SO l’Emyrne. However, it was reported that l’Emyrne scored all those own goals in a revolt against refereeing decisions (what a weird way of protesting).

21. The longest-ever soccer game was 3 hours and 23 minutes

In 1946, English soccer teams Stockport County and Doncaster Rovers disputed a soccer game that ended at 2-2 after the original 90 minutes. They had two 30 minutes extra time to end the game, but it was still tied. The referee then told them to play to win.

What’s impressive is the fitness level of these players…3 hours and 23 minutes of soccer are brutal!

22. Soccer balls got their iconic black and white colors so viewers that owned T.Vs could see the ball clearly

The first soccer balls used to look like volleyballs and were apparently heavy.

They were made with stitched leather and were dark colored. They changed their colors to black and white when soccer was broadcast on TV in order for the viewers at home to see them.

The evolution of the soccer ball
Best Soccer Balls

23. The term ”soccer” is surprisingly…British

The biggest haters of the word soccer are actually the ones who created it…how ironic. The term was created by Oxford students as another word for ”football”, but died out eventually.

America, instead of adopting the term football, went with soccer (because of the already-established American football). Canada and Australia also use the term soccer. Which one do you use?

24. The MLS used to have penalty shootouts (like they do in hockey) before they went with the popular penalty kicks

Until 1999, a shootout was settled with players starting at 35 yards out. They had 5 seconds to take the ball and shoot, with unlimited touches.

Note: These Americanized penalties were only for shootouts (after a tie game). During the game, regular penalty kicks occurred.

25. A Colombian soccer player was killed after he scored an own goal against USA in the 1994 FIFA World Cup

Andres Escobar scored an unfortunate own goal which led to the elimination of Colombia from the competition. When he returned home, he was shot.

The shooter was discovered to be a bodyguard of a man who was in the cartel. Apparently, the man had gambled on his team and the own goal ruined his chances of winning that bet (More reasons not to gamble).

26. During World War 1 in 1914, British and German soldiers temporarily stopped killing each other for Christmas Eve and played soccer in No Man’s Land

A ”Truce” was called and both sets of soldiers exchanged gifts and played games of soccer to celebrate the holiday.

27. A game of soccer once received 20 red cards, the most ever

It was in a Paraguayan youth game between Sportivo Ameliano and General Caballero.

It was reported that after 2 red cards were shown for aggressive behavior, a huge 10-minute fight broke out, and the referee just went ballistic.

The match was in fact abandoned.

Financial/Money facts about soccer

For my financial gurus, or those interested in numbers, here are numbers about soccer that will blow your mind.

28. Neymar is the highest-paid footballer as of 2023, with $300 million a year

Neymar’s signing to Saudi Club Al-Hilal also comes with a gigantic private mansion, cars, a dedicated staff just for him and his family, and more absurd perks.

This is in addition to his personal earnings such as commercials, personal business, and his own line of soccer cleats with Puma.

The second highest paid is Cristiano Ronaldo with $213 million a year

29. Lionel Messi is the highest earner in the MLS, with $55 million a year

Although the Inter Miami star’s salary might look like peanuts next to his Saudi counterparts, Messi’s deal comes with Adidas and Apple share on sales, as well as equity in the Inter Miami club.

30. The richest club in the world is Manchester City

Owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, Man City recorded a revenue of over $650 million.

The richest owner is Newcastle United’s Mohammed bin Salman from Saudi Arabia, with a net worth of $25 billion.

Here’s a helpful video on how soccer teams make their money

31. The most valuable transfer in history is Neymar’s $234 million price from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar seems to always be involved when it comes to money…

A transfer is when a Club is looking for a new player and decides to buy that player from another cub, as opposed to the traditional trades in the NBA or NHL.

Although there are still direct trades in soccer, most player acquisitions are made with money.

32. The most valuable soccer league is the English Premier League, with a value of over $9 billion

Although it is the MVP of soccer leagues, the PL is only third in the world, falling behind the NFL($18 billion) and the cricket-playing Indian Premier League ($11 billion).

The premier league includes rich clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, Newcastle, Chelsea, Arsenal, and many more.


And this wraps up our facts about soccer for you. I mixed the best and most original ones for you to share with someone and impress them.

I hope you laughed and learned some things, but most importantly I hope my article got you to appreciate soccer more and join the movement. And who knows…maybe I will see you on the field one day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where did soccer get its name?

Soccer was first coined by a few Oxford University students in the 1880s, who decided to distinguish between rugby football and association football. The term quickly spread and was then shortened to “soccer” (or “socker”), which is still used today.

How did soccer begin?

Soccer has ancient origins dating back to third-century China, and was formalized in England in the 19th century. Records trace its history to ancient China, Greece, Rome, and parts of Central America, but it was England that transitioned it into the game we know today.

Who is considered the greatest soccer player of all time?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are widely considered the greatest soccer players of all time.

What is the largest soccer stadium in the world?

The largest soccer stadium in the world is the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in North Korea, which holds a whopping 114,000 people.

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