Even before we answer this question, it is important to begin straight up by thinking outside the box. In any game out there, there are usually three major participants. The players, the fans/spectators and the officiating team.
Regardless of the nature of the sport, fans are never allowed within the active field of play. On the other hand, the match officials may be allowed within the field of play or not, depending on the nature of the game. In case of soccer, there are usually 22 players and up to 4 members of the officiating team. In this post we shall briefly look at the roles of each person.
A soccer match consists of 2 teams, each team having 11 players. The following is a brief role of the players for either side of the team.
1. Goalkeeper – This is the player that guards the goal by stopping shots from the opposite side from going past the goal line.
2. Right Fullback – The rear defender that mainly plays on the right side of the soccer field, assisting in stopping strikers from the opponent team.
3. Left Fullback – He defends the team from marauding strikers, normally playing on the left rear side of the pitch.
4. Center Back – Also known as the stopper, the Center Fullback or the central defender. This is a defensive player that plays in the middle area of the rear defensive-line.
5. Sweeper – A player that plays between the goalkeeper and the team’s main defensive line. He clears any balls that get through his team’s defensive line.
6. Holding Midfielder – A holding midfielder is also known as a defensive midfielder. The player is normally positioned right in front of his team’s defensive line, clearing all balls back into the midfield.
7. Winger – These can either be the right or left midfielders, whose main role is to draw their opponent’s defensive players away from the goal area, thereby creating space for their strikers to penetrate.
8. Central/Box-to-Box Midfielder – Centrally placed, this is the player that completes most of the passes to his team’s defensive and offensive players.
9. Striker/Center Forward – Their job is to score goals.
10. Playmaker – As the name suggests, these players play right behind the striker to assist in creating scoring opportunities. They are also known as Attacking Midfielders.
11. Left Midfielder – A winger that plays on the left side.
The Officiating Team
Main referee – This is the official who runs along with the ball during gameplay.
Linesmen – They are two, patrolling either sides of the long borders. They call out offside plays and determine the exact spot from which to make a throw-in.
Fourth Official – Principal assistant to the main referee in tasks such as time tracking. He is an optional inclusion and is normally only required in high-stakes soccer matches.
So going by the detailed guide above, an ideal soccer match should have 26 people. That is 11 players from either team, and 4 officials.