The Game

Each side can have 11 players on the field at a time: 10 field players and one goalkeeper. Teams are allowed a maximum of three substitutes per game, plus one additional substitute if the game goes to extra time. Players who are substituted out of the game may not go back in later.

Each game will consist of two 45-minute halves with a 15-minute break in between. Referees can add “stoppage time” to the end of each half to make up for lost time during the half on injuries or other interruptions. This usually does not exceed 5-6 minutes in a half (and that is on the high side).

Ties will not be broken during the group stage. In quarterfinals and beyond (also referred to as “knockout rounds”), if the teams are tied at the end of regulation, they will have a 5-minute break before playing two 15-minute periods of extra time, with only a brief “drinks break” in between. Extra time is not sudden death, so the full 30 minutes will be played even if one team goes ahead early.

If the teams remain tied at the end of extra time, they will go to a five-player shootout, in which each team will designate five players to take a penalty shot against the opposing goalkeeper. The teams will alternate taking their five shots. If, at any point, the gap between the teams becomes large enough that one team cannot mathematically catch the other, the remainder of the shots will not be taken.

If the teams remain tied after the 5-player shootout, the shootout continues into a “sudden death” round, with the same players for each team shooting in the same order, until one team misses and the other makes their shot.

The Tournament

Both the men’s and women’s tournaments will consist of the following phases of competition:

  • Group Stage
  • Quarterfinals
  • Semifinals
  • Medal Games (Gold & Bronze)

In both the men’s and women’s tournaments, quarterfinals through the medal games will be played in a knockout-style bracket, with the two losers of the semifinals playing in the bronze medal game.

Group Stage – Men’s (16 teams)

Teams are divided into four groups of four based on seeding and a draw.

Each team will play three games in group play – one against every other team in its group. Teams will earn 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. Based on these earned points, the top two teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals.

If teams are tied with the same number of points after the group stage, the tie will be broken with the following criteria: goal differential across all games, followed by total number of goals scored during the stage. There is a secondary set of procedures if the tie is still not broken. (Note: while most team sports would look at the head-to-head record between the two tied teams to break the tie, this is not something that is considered in soccer.)

Group Stage – Women’s (12 teams)

Teams are divided into three groups of four based on seeding and a draw.

Each team will play three games in group play – one against every other team in its group. Teams will earn 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. Based on these earned points, the teams ranked first and second in each group and the two best teams among those placing third will advance to the quarterfinals.

Tiebreak rules are the same as in the men’s tournament.

 

More information:

Official Tokyo site – Soccer

US Soccer

International federation