If you’ve ever run laps, you’ve probably bemoaned the fact that soccer fields are so large. Luckily, we have air supported domes to create indoor spaces large enough to house a soccer field, but why do they need to be so big? Who decided that a soccer field should be the size of, well, a soccer field?
It might surprise you that soccer actually started out on a much larger scale. Somewhere around the 9th Century in England, the game would span an entire town as everyone would try and kick a pig’s bladder from one landmark to another.
But the modern field as we know it today began to take shape in the late 16th and early 17th centuries when soccer goals were first described.
In 1863, a group of English schools and clubs met up to decide on official rules for the game of soccer (or football as it was known). They published the original 14 laws of the game, one of which standardized the field of play.
In the original laws, the field (or grounds as it was then called) could be up to 100 yards wide and 200 yards long. After that, the modern shape of the soccer pitch took shape, with lines being added in for the boundaries, middle, and penalty box. The modern goal was standardized to 8 feet high and 8 yards long.
Did you know, though, that there isn’t one standard size for a soccer pitch? You’d think that since the first laws were set, someone at some point would have defined a single standard field size, but you’d be wrong.
The FIFA regulations for a soccer field states that there are acceptable ranges for the width and length of the field. The field should be rectangular in shape and be between 100 yards and 130 yards in length (90m to 120m) and 50 to 100 yards in width (45m to 90m). Fields for international matches are a little bit more restrictive and need to be 100 to 110 meters in length and 64 to 75 meters in width.
Interestingly, this means that most soccer fields are wider than standard American or Canadian football fields. An American football field has a standard width of 53 1/3 yards, and Canadian football fields are slightly wider at 65 yards.
So, while a football field does fit within the parameters of a soccer field, a pitch that’s created for soccer would most likely be larger than a football field.
Because two different soccer fields might have different dimensions, it creates an added challenge for dome building. One soccer dome might need to be slightly larger than another soccer dome, simply because the field itself is a little bit larger. It’s a good thing that each dome is custom designed and planned out to make sure that there’s enough room to cover your field, however big it is!