While watching several soccer matches either live or on TV, you might have noticed the fact that the game sometimes seems loose, whereas other times it feels like the players are all chunked in with little distances between them.
This is due to the fact that the stadiums the matches were played on, all had different soccer field layouts as FIFA doesn't restrict them to a particular size (although official rules state the at the soccer field dimensions must be contained in some standard limits).
Different soccer field sizes can affect a lot of factors, including entertainment value, stadium capacity and most importantly, the tactics and the formation a team will choose. Before seeing exactly how these elements are affected by the soccer field layout, let me start by giving you the exact rules and soccer field dimensions that are set as standard by FIFA.
The standard soccer field measurement limits changed over time, adapting to the particular period of time they applied to. With the rise in popularity of soccer and the increasing number of live spectators to each match, the upper width and length limits were also raised, allowing for bigger stadiums and better entertainment. In 2007, the minimum and maximum values for soccer field sizes are:
Minimum length: 100 yards (90 meters)
Maximum length: 130 yards (120 meters)
Minimum width: 50 yards (45 meters)
Maximum width: 100 yards (90 meters)
Although these sizes apply for local matches, there is a slight adjustment in the field layout when it comes to international matches:
International match minimum length: 110 yards (100 meters)
International match maximum length: 120 yards (110 meters)
International match minimum width: 70 yards (64 meters)
International match maximum width: 80 yards (75 meters)
As you can see, in a local match, the minimum length is the same as the maximum width (100 yards). This is a bit contradictory, as FIFA clearly states that the soccer field must be of rectangular shape, however it's not really a problem, since no one ever tried to test these limits by creating a square field layout (that would be silly at best). But let's move on to see how the soccer field measurements affect the game itself:
Soccer Field Layout and Size related to Stadium Capacity
Obviously, the bigger the soccer field, the larger the stadium surrounding it. Visibility is also a factor, as you don't want your spectators to be too far away from the pitch (if they wanted to watch the game from a distance, they would have stayed home and watched TV) so if you have a smaller soccer field, you'll need to build the stands even closer.
Soccer Field Layout and Size Related to Entertainment Value
This factor really depends on what you believe to be "entertaining". Some fans prefer a smaller layout which would allow for a faster game, potentially more opportunities and it would give the more technical players an advantage over fast runners. On the other hand, some will prefer a longer and wider soccer field in order to fully allow the game to stretch out. This favors fast and enduring players that can make their move in the big chunks of empty field behind the opposing team.
Soccer Field Layout and Size Related to Tactics and Formation
The main element of a soccer field that affects tactics and formation is its width. Obviously, if the field is wider, wing gameplay can be emphasized. This leads to formations that are heavily reliant on their wingers, with tactics that require a lot of crosses in favor to direct center plays and heavy workload from those playing on the sides.