Soccer vs. Football Fields: What Makes Them Different?

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Soccer and football are two of the most popular sports. However, football is hands down more popular here in the US. What about soccer, you ask?

Well, it’s becoming increasingly popular in the states. And, as you know, it is still widely popular worldwide, though.

Both sports are played with a ball, although a slightly differently shaped ball in football, but the objective is mostly the same.

What is it? core goals and win. Additionally, they’re played on large grass fields. But are both fields the same, and do they all use natural grass? Here’s what you need to know about soccer vs. football fields.

Soccer vs. Football Fields: The Major Differences

Soccer and football fields might look very similar in many ways. To be fair, they are in some. However, there are quite a few differences as well. For example, did you know many soccer fields vary in size? Yes, even in professional play.

If you’re a football fan, we are sure you just raised your eyebrows reading that. That really does sound crazy.

There’s a standard field size. However, soccer fields are allowed some leeway. And there’s a method to this seeming madness. Let’s dive in and find out more!

Shape of Soccer Field vs. Football Field

Both soccer and football fields are rectangular. Therefore, both their ends are shorter than their lengths. However, in soccer, there’s some leeway for the actual dimensions.

A soccer field also needs to keep the sidelines longer than the goal lines as well. What are the sidelines and goal lines? Well, the sidelines (also called the touchline) and the goal lines are the boundary lines marked on the field.

Players must play the game within these lines. If a player puts the soccer ball outside the sidelines or goal lines, a throw-in is given by the referee. Throw-ins are pretty important and can help with ball possession.

Although both fields are largely rectangular, a soccer field’s measurements can vary. However, all football fields need to follow strict specifications for the length and width of the field. So, you can’t change the dimensions of a football field.

Length of Soccer Field vs. Football Field

Soccer and football fields are similar in length. But, some soccer field lengths can vary, which isn’t an option for football fields.

So, what’s the specification for each field? Typically, soccer fields are 130 yards in length, maximum. At the same time, football fields are 120 yards (including end zones).

Remember that the 130 yards for soccer fields isn’t always the case. Some fields can be smaller than that, at 100 yards in length.

Meanwhile, all football fields in the world abide by strict dimension requirements (120 yards)—100 yards if you don’t count the end zones.

Why Aren’t All Soccer Fields the Same Size?

Let’s dwell on the leeway soccer fields have on the length. We think it’s very interesting. You might be wondering why soccer fields aren’t the same size. It also felt slightly off to us when we first learned about this.

You might also be wondering, does it affect the game? Are there any standard requirements at all? There are.

For example, US youth soccer leagues and professional soccer games are played on standard field sizes. But most soccer field sizes depend on a couple of things:

  • Player’s skill level
  • The number of players
  • Preferred playing style
  • What the team can afford

Player’s Skill Level

New or young players won’t necessarily fare very well playing on standard regulation soccer fields. They’re quite large. As a result, it can take quite a toll on new or young players.

Therefore, some fields are smaller than others to allow players some time to get used to intense physical sports.

Player Influence on Soccer Field Size

Players and teams can also influence the size of the field. If the home soccer team’s play style is better suited for a particular size, they’ll opt for it. It gives the home team an edge.

For example, if teams prefer a more offensive style of play and like to keep possession of the ball more often, a larger field is better. However, teams that have a strong defense will prefer playing on smaller soccer fields since it makes it easier to close in when defending.

Budget of the Team/Club

Then there’s also the budget of a team or club. This plays a major role when it comes to the field size as well. Not all teams are as super-rich as popular soccer clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester City, and the like.

Therefore, budget and monetary constraints also have an impact on the field sizes. Having said that, the difference among soccer fields isn’t wild. Moreover, in professional play, soccer field sizes are the same.

Width of Soccer Field vs. Football Field 

A football field’s width is strictly 53 and 1⁄3 yards. Football fields have a much smaller width than soccer fields, which are between 100–50 yards. All football fields are required to strictly follow the specified dimensions.

As with the length of a soccer field, the width of a soccer field can also vary. There’s a minimum requirement of 50 yards. The maximum width can be 100 yards.

50 yards of leeway is quite a lot, if you ask us. However, most soccer fields have a width of 75 yards. Therefore, popular soccer fields are generally larger than football fields.

The surface of Soccer Field vs. Football Field

Both soccer fields and football fields have similar surfaces. Each can have natural grass or artificial turf. However, it’s more common for football fields to have artificial turfs.

Only 6 Major League Soccer (MLS) teams played on artificial turf. In contrast, about 12 NFL football teams play on artificial turf. This is by design, though.

More and more NFL teams are being pushed to play on artificial grass. Is it the same case in soccer? No, it’s the opposite. Soccer teams are pushed to play more on natural grass.

There’s no strict regulation rule regarding what kind of surface football should be played on. Interestingly, playing on artificial vs. natural grass surfaces for NFL stadiums is becoming an interesting topic of debate.

Regardless of what is happening right now, both football and soccer players prefer playing on natural grass, which makes the increasing popularity of artificial grass in football all the more fascinating and odd to us.

Football is also more physically demanding than soccer. Therefore, playing on natural grass will also result in fewer injuries since the surface is softer. It’ll be interesting to see what the officials settle on, don’t you think?

Markings on a Soccer Field vs. Football Field 

Field marking is one of the most significant differences between these two fields. In fact, the markings on a field are the best way to determine whether a field is meant for soccer or football.

Markings on a Soccer Field

There are a couple of major components you need to understand about a soccer field. There are the sidelines, goal lines, center line (also known as the halfway line), center circle, penalty areas, and goal area.

Most of the markings in a soccer field are actually pretty self-explanatory. The outer border dictates the area where the players play, so those are the sidelines and the goal lines.

The penalty area is where players take a penalty kick. There’s a small mark inside the penalty area. The ball is placed on the mark. All other players need to stay outside the penalty arc during a penalty kick.

The center line is where the games start from. And the goal area is straightforward. There are two goalposts on either side of the field. We’ll talk more about goalposts a bit later. 

Additionally, there are also corner marks on each side of the field. Players shoot corners from this spot. Here’s a quick summary of all the major markings on a soccer field:

  • Sidelines
  • Goal lines
  • Centerline
  • Center circle
  • Center spot
  • Two penalty areas
  • Two-goal areas
  • Penalty spot
  • Four corner arcs

Markings on a Football Field

All right, let’s move on to the markings on a football field. The markings on a football field are denser, in a way.

Let’s start from the end. Each end of the field has a marking called the end lines.

The end lines also mark the end of the end zones. End zones are very important in football. Why so? It’s the area where players can score touchdowns.

Between the two end zones, you have the play area. The play area is also called the field of play, and it’s 100 yards in length. There are a couple of markings on the field of play. There are solid lines at each 5-yard mark.

At each 10-yard mark, they’re also marked with numbers. The solid lines are quite visible. It’s one of the more distinct markings compared to those of a soccer field.

Yard lines are crucial for the game as well. For example, the yard lines tell you when there’s a first down or when a player is rushing. Here are the markings you’ll see on a football field:

  • 1-yard long scrimmage line
  • Two end zones
  • Numerals in multiples of 10
  • 5-yard lines
  • 10-yard intervals
  • 1-yard hash marks

Goalposts on a Soccer Field vs. Football Field 

At a glance, one of the major differences you’ll notice, apart from the markings, are the goalposts. They are very different.

The goalposts in football are U-shaped and elevated on a pole. At the same time, the goalposts in soccer look more traditional.

In soccer, the goalposts are placed on both sides, across the goal lines. Additionally, there are requirements the posts need to adhere to. Firstly, the crossbar needs to be 8 feet above the ground.

Then, the upright posts on the sides need to be 8 yards apart from each other. There are different requirements for football goalposts, however. Like soccer goalposts, football goalposts also need to be dead center on both sides.

But the crossbar is 10 feet above the ground, which is 2 feet higher than a soccer goal post. The vertical bars on a football goalpost are actually placed on both sides above the crossbar. This is what gives it a distinct U-shape.

Since the two goalposts are very differently shaped, players play these games differently. In soccer, you want to get the ball inside the goalpost under the crossbar.

However, in football, you shoot above the crossbar and between the vertical poles to score goals.

As sports technology improves, it’ll be very interesting to see how technology changes the sport. And it makes us wonder, will we see any major changes to rules and regulations?


The fields are very important to both soccer and football. When it comes to soccer vs. football fields, there are quite a few differences. However, there are also some similarities.

This is why understanding the landscape (no pun intended) helps you to appreciate the subtle differences between these sports.

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