Soccer 101: Venues

Soccer 101: Venues
Posted at 2:32 PM, Mar 11, 2021

Traditionally, soccer is the only summer Olympic sport to regularly take place outside of the host city. That will be the case in Japan (though, for various reasons, a handful of other sports will take place outside of Tokyo as well). The men’s and women’s Olympic soccer tournaments will take place at seven stadiums in six Japanese cities, including Tokyo. Those venues are:

Olympic Stadium 
The final of the women’s tournament will take place at Olympic Stadium, the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Games. Built on the footprint of the recently demolished National Stadium, the main stadium of the 1964 Olympics, Olympic Stadium will have a capacity of 68,000 for the Games. 

Tokyo Stadium 
Also located within the Tokyo metropolis, Tokyo Stadium will host soccer matches along with the Olympic rugby and modern pentathlon competitions. Finished in 2001, the stadium is home to FC Tokyo of Japan’s top-flight soccer league, and also hosted matches of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. It’s capacity for the Olympics is 48,000. 

International Stadium Yokohama 
The men’s soccer champions will be crowned inside Japan’s largest stadium, the 72,000-seat International Stadium Yokohama. The venue opened in 1998 as the home ground of Yokohama F. Marinos, four-times champions of Japan’s top-flight domestic league. Located in the north side of Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest city, International Stadium Yokohama sits 13 miles to the southwest of Olympic Stadium. 

Saitama Stadium 
Build ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted by Japan and South Korea, Saitama Stadium is the third-largest venue of the Olympic soccer competition at 64,000 seats. The city of Saitama is located to the northwest of Tokyo, and the stadium sits just 15 miles north of Olympic Stadium. It hosts home matches of Urawa Red Diamonds of the top-flight J1 League. 

Ibaraki Kashima Stadium 
The city of Kashima lies on Japan’s Pacific coast, west of Tokyo in Ibaraki prefecture. The 42,000-seat Ibaraki Kashima Stadium is the home of Japan’s most successful soccer club, Kashima Antlers, which has won the J1 League a record eight times. 

Miyagi Stadium 
At nearly 200 miles north of Tokyo in the city of Rifu, Miyagi Stadium is the second-furthest soccer venue from the host city of the 2020 Olympics. The stadium is notable for its crescent-shaped roof above the main grandstand. It was a venue of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, during which it hosted three matches. 

Sapporo Dome 
Among the seven Olympic soccer venues for 2020, Sapporo Dome is unique in several ways. It is the only indoor venue, it is the only venue located off the island of Honshu, and, consequently, it is the farthest venue from Tokyo in the city of Sapporo, on the island of Hokkaido, 500 miles north of the Japanese capital. Sapporo Dome hosts baseball as well as soccer. With a capacity of 41,000, it is the smallest of the seven Olympic stadia. 

Field of Play

Dimensions: The playing area in Olympic soccer matches is a rectangle, which measures 115 yards by 74 yards (105 meters by 68 meters). 

6-yard box: A smaller rectangle, 6 yards out and 20 yards wide, defines the goal area and is commonly referred to as the "6-yard box." Goal kicks are taken from any point in the 6-yard box. 

Penalty Box: In front of each goal is a rectangular zone called the penalty area, or "the box," extending 18 yards out from the goal line and 44 yards wide. When "direct kick" infractions occur inside the box, a penalty kick is awarded. 

Halfway Line (Midfield stripe): A soccer field is divided in two by a halfway line. Substitutions enter and exit the field at the halfway line. 

Center Mark: Kick-offs to start and restart the game take place at the center mark. 

Center Circle: When kick-offs occur, players not involved must stand behind the center circle, which has a radius of 10 yards from the center mark. Once the ball is touched, players can enter the circle. 

Touchline (Sideline): Regardless of whether it's in the air or on the ground, the ball is considered out of play when it fully crosses the touchline. If this happens, the team that did not cause the ball to go out of bounds is awarded a throw-in. 

Penalty Arch: During a penalty kick, all players must be 10 yards from the penalty mark when the kick is taken, except for the goalkeeper and the player taking the penalty kick. The penalty arch is 10 yards from the mark. 

Corner Arch: When taking a corner kick, the ball must be placed inside the corner arch, which has a 1-yard radius. Players are not allowed to move the corner flag. Opponents must remain at least 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked into play. 

Penalty Mark (Penalty Spot): When a penalty kick is awarded, the ball is placed on the penalty mark. Also called the "11-meter mark," it lies about 12 yards from the goal. 

Goal line (End line): Regardless of whether it's in the air or on the ground, the ball is considered out of play when it fully crosses the goal line. If the team on offense causes the ball to cross the goal line, the defense is awarded a goal kick. If the team on defense causes the ball to cross the goal line, the offense is awarded a corner kick.