The length of a season depends on the league and the type of competition format the organization has chosen. Most choose round-robin as it gives all the teams a chance to face each other.
Ultimately, the main determining factor is the number of teams in the league. For fairness, all teams should be able to face each other at least once a season.
Many leagues divide this into home and away games, which repeat each matchup twice.
In this article, we’re going to answer how many games there are in a typical soccer season. We’ll discuss not just one league but all the top leagues in the world, as well as special leagues like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.
Factors Affecting the Total Number of Games in a Season
The biggest factor in determining the total number of games is the number of teams. Each team must be able to play against every other team at least once.
The top leagues all have 2 games for each matchup to allow each team to play at home. This ultimately doubles the total games. Let me give you an example.
For instance, the Premier League has 20 teams in total. To face every team at least once, they must play a minimum of 19 games (it’s not 20 games because they can’t play themselves).
But since each team should be given a home-court advantage, the total number of games should double to 38.
Additional Games for Top Teams
The number of games for a team is not constant, depending on how well the team is doing.
Let’s use the same league in this example, the Premier League.
After the 38 games have finished, the team with the most points would be crowned the champion. The top 4 seeded team then qualifies to another league, the Champions League.
What this means is some teams can have more games as they could be included in several cups or tournaments like Champion League or League Cups in one season.
This is a bit more complicated and would be best discussed in another article. But basically, in a typical league, the total number of games is (number of teams -1) x 2.
Typical Format of a Season
The most popular competition format for most soccer leagues is the double round-robin tournament.
In this format, each team will face every team twice. Both teams will be given a chance to play at their home court. This makes the tournament fairer because home-court advantages are given for both teams.
At the end of the season, the match points for each team will be tallied. The team with the highest total will win the cup, and would sometimes even qualify to play in another tournament.
Number of Teams within the League
The total number of teams within different leagues varies quite a bit. Some teams have more than 20 teams, while others have fewer.
The most popular tournament with the most number of teams in Major League Soccer (MLS) with 27 teams. They play a total of 34 games, which is lower than the projected 52 games. This is because they only play teams from the opposite conference once instead of twice.
The World Cup has 32 teams, but this is a special league that happens only every 4 years. The World Cup has a group stage followed by a knockout stage. The Olympic Soccer League has 16 teams.
Number of Games in Special Soccer Seasons
FIFA World Cup can be considered a special soccer season since it’s only held every 4 years.
The World Cup consists of 32 teams separated into 8 groups. The group stage will see the four teams within the group play round robin. The top 2 teams with each group will advance to the knockout stage.
A total of 64 games will be played including the group and knockout stage.
Number of Games in Soccer Leagues around the World
English Premier League
The English Premier League takes place in England and is considered the biggest soccer league in the world. It generated a whopping £4.5 billion of revenue during the 2019/20 season.
EPL has a total of 20 teams. Each team plays the other 19 teams twice. That equates to 38 games per team.
That’s a total of 760 games in a season. The games are held between August and May of the following year.
La Liga (Spain)
La Liga takes place in Spain. It has the same number of teams as EPL with 20 teams competing in a double round-robin format. Each team will face the other 19 teams twice.
That’s a total of 38 games per team, and a total of 760 games for all teams.
The games are held between August and May of the following year.
Bundesliga is a season that takes place in Germany. It has a total of 18 teams. They follow the same competition format as the two leagues above.
As such, they need to play the other 17 teams twice. That totals 34 games for each team and a total of 612 games for the whole season.
The games are held between August and May of the following year.
The Serie A league is held in Italy with a total of 20 teams. It follows the same format as round-robin.
It has a total of 38 games per team, and a grand total of 760 games in a season. It is held on the same date range as the leagues above, between August and May next year.
The Ligue 1 takes place in France with 20 total teams. It follows the same format as Serie A, which gives it a total of 38 games per team.
This puts the grand total of games per season to 760. The season is spread out between August and May of the following year.
Campeonato Brasileiro Série A
Campeonato Brasileiro Série A is held in Brazil. There are 20 teams. It has a total of 760 games per season, 38 games per team.
The games are spread out between May and December of the same year.
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer is a relatively new league that is not as popular as the others. It takes place in the US where soccer is not a popular sport.
It has an altered round-robin format. The 27 teams are divided into two conferences. Each team will face the teams within the same conference twice, and 4 to 6 teams from opposite conference teams only once.
This gives out a total of 34 games, and a grand total of 918 games in a season. Games are held between March and December.
The Primeira Liga season takes place in Portugal. They have a total of 18 soccer teams that play the other teams twice in a season. That’s a total of 34 games per team.
That’s 612 games in a season that is held between August and May of the following year.
A soccer season is a period in which soccer games are played in a year. Usually, there’s only one soccer season per year, but special leagues like FIFA hold the tournament only once every 4 years.
The number of games played within a league varies depending on the organization. It’s not a fixed number.
The most important determining factor in the number of games is the number of teams. The more teams there are, the more games will be played.
Leagues all over the world will use a round-robin format because it seems like the fairest of all formats.
All in all, the number of games in a soccer season varies from tournament to tournament. So, if anyone asks you, “how many games are there in a soccer season?” you should really just answer, “What league?”