Betting on Soccer / Football

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world with over 3.5 billion followers. Soccer, more popularly known as Football, is played in almost all the countries in the world, with about 208 countries playing the sport professionally. Most professional and international soccer matches, not only have huge stadium attendance, but also have enormous TV and online viewership. With such intense following comes a strong inclination to bet on soccer matches. Today, soccer betting is extremely popular, with almost all sportsbooks in the world offering extensive soccer betting options.

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Soccer Betting Stats

Soccer is by far the most interesting sport to bet on, and it's no surprise that soccer is also by far the most bet upon sport. Sportradar, an American sports statistics firm, estimated that about 70% of the $700 billion to $1 trillion revenue from sports-betting comes from soccer betting. The reason is not very hard to understand. Soccer is the most played and watched sport in the world, there could very easily be more number of soccer games in a year than the total number of games from all major sports put together.

Betting in soccer in not anything new, it has a history that dates as far back as 1923. It began in the form of soccer pools in the UK, where bettors filled out weekly coupons predicting match outcomes. As a few bettors started winning big payouts, it attracted a lot of others into football betting. Its popularity quickly spread to other European countries and countries around the world.

Though soccer betting was always popular, its popularity exploded only after the advent of online betting. And more recently, with mobile betting, which provides the opportunity to bet on games from anywhere, the popularity of soccer betting has reached new heights.

Betting, of late, has almost become an inseparable part of football, where top betting companies; who take football bets, have become major sponsors for a lot of the top teams in multiple leagues.
Soccer Leagues and Competitions.

Several soccer competitions happen around the world all through the year. Soccer matches are played as part of, international competitions or domestic league championships.

International competitions

The major international competitions are, the World Cup, Women's World Cup, FIFA Confederations Cup, and Men's and Women's Olympics Football Tournament. Other international competitions are played for championships within a continent, the most popular of which is UEFA European Football Championship played by European countries.

Domestic competitions

Though the international matches are extremely popular, it is the domestic league soccer that account for the bulk of soccer matches played, viewed and bet upon. There are domestic soccer league competitions in almost all of the 208 countries that play soccer, but the leagues in Europe are the most popular.

European leagues

There are six major football leagues in Europe, each of which generate over a billion dollars in revenue each year. In terms of revenue and popularity, the English Premier League ranks at the top among European leagues, followed by, La Liga of Spain, Bundesliga of Germany, Ligue 1 of France, Serie A of Italy, and Primeira Liga of Portugal. There are also hugely popular leagues in Russia, Greece, Sweden, Holland, Turkey and Switzerland which have a huge following. Besides the Tier 1 league, a lot of European countries also have a Tier 2 and Tier 3 leagues like, Football League Championship and Football League One in UK, and "2. Bundesliga" and "3. Liga" in Germany, which are also extremely popular and generate a lot of revenue. Then there is UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

Other leagues

Besides Europe, Campeonato Brasileiro in Brazil, Liga MX in Mexico, MLS in the USA, and J. League Division 1 in Japan are the popular leagues with upwards of $500 million in revenue

Types of Soccer Bets

Futures betting

Before the start of the season, there are future bets that will be available, that applies for the whole season. These bets don't payout immediately and are usually settled at the end of the season. Though the payout takes time, these are some of the easiest bets to win.

The most common prop bet is to pick which team will be the overall winner for the season. This bet will be offered for every football league around the world. The chance for winning these bets are very high and sees a lot of action. Before the start of the 2015 La Liga season, Barcelona had a 65% chance, and Real Madrid had a 29% chance, of winning the championship, and all other teams put together had a 6% chance. Similarly in the English Premier League, for the 2015 season, Chelsea had 45%, Manchester City had 23%, Arsenal had 16% and Manchester United had 13% chance to win the championship. The odds makers were willing to give only, two teams in La Liga, and 4 teams in the Premier League, a realistic chance to win the championship. This will be the case for almost every year in most of the leagues, where only a very few stand a chance to win it all. An avid follower of the League, will be able to cash-in by picking the right team.

Some of the other futures bets are, which team will score the most goals in the season, which player will score the most goals in the season, how many games will a certain team win for the entire season, will a certain team be in the top 5, and will a certain team be relegated.

A few sportsbooks will continue to offer these future bets even after the start of the season, by adjusting the football betting odds, until one outcome of the bet is significantly evident.

Moneyline betting

This type of bet is the most wagered upon in soccer and is offered by all sportsbooks. Since there is a high likelihood of a soccer match to end up in a draw, football matches have 3 possible outcomes, either team wins, or the match is a draw. The objective is to simply pick one of the three outcomes. If the outcome that you predicted is the eventual outcome of the game, then you win the bet, if it is one of other two outcomes, you lose the bet.

Double, treble, accumulator betting

This type of betting combines multiple bets into a single bet. A double is two bets combined, a treble has 3, and accumulator has 4 or more bets. A bettor who bets on these multiples wins only if they make the right pick on all the bets. Though the payout is very high, multiple betting is also extremely risky.

Draw no bet betting

With this type of bet, you simply have to predict the winner of a match, picking a draw option will not be available. If the team you pick wins the match, you win the bet, and if the team loses, you lose the bet. If the match ends up in a draw, the bet ends as a push and the money wagered is returned back. Though the payout for this type of bet will be less, this will be the best place for beginners to start.

Double chance betting

This is considered as the safest way to bet on football games. In this type of bet, there will be two options to choose from. You can pick one of the two teams to either win or draw. You win the bet if the team you picked either wins the match or if the match ends in a draw. You lose only if the team you picked loses the match. Since two outcomes are covered in a single pick, the chances of winning in this type of bet is very high. In most soccer matches there will be clear favorites and there will be little to no chance for them to lose the match. If you identity these matches and make a double chance bet on the favorites, you have a good chance of winning some cash. Since the risk with this type of betting is very low, the payout for winning is very low too.

Handicap betting

Also known as line betting, this type of betting has a higher risk and a higher payout which attracts a lot of action from soccer bettors. The bookmakers will identify the favorites and underdogs for a match, and to level the playing field in terms of betting, the favorites will be handicapped by removing goals from them even before the start of the match. The handicapped number of goals called the line will be in multiples of -0.5 (a minus to indicate goals being removed), like -0.5, -1.0, -1.5. After the game is over, the line will be deducted from the number goals the favorites scored, and that will be used to adjudge the winner of the bet.

Suppose the line for a game is -1.5, and you pick on the favorites to overcome the line, you will win the bet only if the favorites win by 2 or more goals. Any other outcome, even if the favorites win the game but by just 1 goal, you end up losing the bet. On the other hand, if you pick the underdogs, you'll win the bet if the underdogs draw or even lose by just one goal. If the line for a game is -1.0, picking the favorites will result in a win, only if the favorites win by 2 or more goals. If the favorites win by just 1 goal, the bet results in a push, and in any other outcome the bet is lost.

Since handicap betting is not about predicting the outcome of the game but is about predicting the outcome relative to the line, there is a high risk involved in this type of betting. It is more suited for bettors who are experienced and have researched both the playing teams.

Asian handicap betting

This is a variation of handicap betting which is extremely popular in soccer and is offered only by a few big bookmakers. It might be a bit confusing initially but offers better chance of winning when compared to regular handicapping. In this type of bet, the favorites are handicapped by a pair of lines, instead of just a single line used in traditional handicapping. It is usually expressed as "(-0.5, -1.0)" or "(-1.0, -1.5)". When a wager is placed, the wager is split into two half, one half of the wager goes to the first line and the other half to the second line. After the match is over, the two halves of the bet will be adjudged independently.

Take for example a game where the favorites have a "(-0.5, -1.0)" Asian handicap. If you bet on the favorites, your bet will be split into two halves, one half with a -0.5 line and the other half with a -1.0 line. If the favorites win the game by 2 or more goals, you win both halves of the bet. If the favorites lose or draw, you lose both halves of the bet. If the favorites win by 1 goal, then you win the first half of the bet, and the second half of the bet will be a push.

The Asian handicapping, though risky, gives a chance to salvage at least half of the wager in case the bettor loses the other half of the bet.

Over/Under betting

Also referred as goal-line betting, this is a highly sought after type of bet in soccer. The bookmakers will come up with the total number of goals that will be scored by both teams combined, which is called the goal-line. The bettor has to predict if the total goals scored will either be over or under the goal-line. For example, if the goal-line is 2, you have to pick if the total goals scored will be over or under 2. If you pick over, you will win the bet, provided 3 or more goals are scored. If only 2 goals are scored the bet is a push, and anything less than two, the bet is lost. It is more usual to see a fraction for over/under bets, like 2.5. The bettor who picks over 2.5, wins only if the total goals scored is more than 3.

Asian handicap over/under

Over/Under bets with Asian handicap will have a pair of goal-lines, usually represented as "(2.0, 2.5)", and the bettor has to pick if the result will be over or under the pair of goal lines. If you bet on Over, your bet will be split into two halves, with one half for Over 2.0 and the other half for Over 2.5. If the total goals scored is 3 or more, you win both halves of the bet. If the total goals scored is below 2, you lose both halves of the bet. If 2 goals were scored, one half of your bet will be a push and you will win the other half.

1st half betting

This type of betting involves predicting, who will win, or Over/Under for the total goals scored, in the first half of the match. Some bookmakers also offer handicapped bets, Asian handicapped bets, and Asian handicapped Over/Under bets for the 1st half of the match. It's a lot riskier to predict the outcomes for just the 1st half of a game compared to the entire game and should be attempted only by experts.

Other betting

Besides the most common bets, some of the other types of bets that see quite a bit of action are:

  • First team to score
  • Last team to score
  • First goal scorer: a bet to pick a player from either team, to score the first goal of the match
  • Last goal scorer: a bet to pick a player from either team, to score the last goal of the match
  • Anytime goal scorer : a bet to pick a player from either team, to score a goal anytime during the match
  • Correct score
  • Both teams to score
  • Odd or even goals
  • Number of penalties
  • Number of corners
  • Number of cards

Besides this, bookmakers also offer up to 200 other types of bets for a single game. If you do your research and are patient enough to wade through all these bets, you are sure to find bets that offer a good chance of winning.

Live Betting

Live betting, also know as In-play or in-running betting, provides the option to bet on soccer games as they are happening. Unlike pre-game bets where there can be no more bets after the game starts, live betting provides for continuous betting opportunity till the match is over. This is why live betting has become extremely popular. To make live betting more attractive, a number of bookmakers are providing free video streaming for the games, where viewers can watch the game on live stream and make bets based on how the game progresses.


Soccer is great sport to watch, and it's no secret that betting on soccer games, makes watching the games several times more exciting. With so many soccer games going on around the world all through the year, and sportsbooks competing among themselves to offer best odds, endless bets, and in-game betting, soccer fans world over are guaranteed of everlasting fun.