Is there is any age limit to play in FIFA World Cup?

Recently one of my friends casually said that Sunil Chhetri will be too old to play in 2022 FIFA World Cup even if India remotely stands a chance to qualify for the next World Cup.

Apart from disagreeing with his pessimistic belief for Indian football team, I also found the argument of age as a barrier to participation, a little too amusing. However, it got me wondering if there is any age limit to play in FIFA World Cup?

And who are the players who defied age and played for their country past 38, let’s say, as Chhetri will be as old by 2022?


FIFA has lower age limit of 16. No player younger than 16 can play. However, there is no upper limit of age and players can play as long as they are physically and mentally fit to play and it is upto the players to call it quits.


FIFA has no age barrier for the players to end their career. Most of the players hang their boots either due to their fitness or most of them don’t want to end it on a downfall note. Coming to Chhetri playing the 2022 World Cup. If India (1% chance) qualify for the World Cup, the man who has given his everything to change Indian Football will not back out when history will be made. There are many players who have crossed the 40 year mark and played the FIFA World Cup. Dino Zoff (Italy), Peter Shilton (England), Faryd Mondragon and now Gianluigi Buffon. What you see in common is that most of the oldest players are Goalkeepers. It is hard to maintain the same prime form and fitness in a game like football.


I think there is no age requirement to play in the FIFA World Cup. A player could play when he is 45-50 if the manager wanted him to.

We have seen a 16 year old Pele play in 1958 and 17 year old Norman Whiteside and also Essam El-Hadary for Egypt the oldest player to play in a FIFA World Cup


In 2014, during the Rio World Cup, former Colombian goalkeeper, Faryd Mondragon played in Colombia’s 4-1 win over Japan setting the record aged 43 years.



Former Northern Ireland, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper, Pat Jennings was 41 yrs old when he played in 1986 Mexico FIFA World cup game against Brazil in which Northern Ireland was beaten 3-1.


The oldest player in a FIFA World Cup is goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary (Egypt, born 15 January 1973), aged 45 years 161 days, when he played for Egypt vs Saudi, in the Volgograd Arena, Volgograd, Russia, on 25 June 2018.


Usually there won’t be an upper age limit for an international sportsperson. They are just retired out by younger generation.

There would be a protective lower age limit in many sports though.


Roger Milla, former Cameroon and Monaco striker, played his final game for his country in the 1994 USA World Cup, aged 42, against Russia.


Talking of age, Ronaldo is the eldest to score hat trick in a WC game at 33y 131d. He achieved this in 2018 WC in a game against Spain.

He also eldest player to score hat trick in a Champions league Game. He scored a hat trick playing for Juventus against Atletico Madrid at 34y 35d.


16 is the minimum age requirement to play FIFA World Cup and there is no maximum limit set for FIFA World Cup.