Football (Soccer)

Football is a ball game played between two teams of eleven players, each attempting to win by scoring more goals than their opponent. Football is played predominantly with the feet, but players may use any part of their body except their hands and arms to propel the ball; the exceptions to this are the two goalkeepers, who are the only players allowed to handle the ball in the field of play, albeit with restrictions.

The sport is also known by other names in some parts of the English-speaking world, usually soccer or association football. These names are often used to distinguish the game from other codes of football, since the word "football" may be used to refer to several quite different games.

Football is played at a professional level all over the world, and millions of people regularly go to a football stadium to follow their favourite team, whilst millions more avidly watch the game on television. A very large number of people also play football at an amateur level.

According to a survey conducted by F�d�ration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), football's governing body, published in the spring of 2001, over 240 million people regularly play football in more than 200 countries in every part of the world. Its simple rules and minimal equipment requirements have no doubt aided its spread and growth in popularity. In many parts of the world football evokes great passions and plays an important role in the life of individual fans, local communities, and even nations; it is therefore often claimed to be the most popular sport in the world.

Nature of the game

Two teams of eleven players each compete to get a spherical ball (itself known as a football) into the other team's goal, thereby scoring a goal. The team which has scored the most goals at the conclusion of the game is the winner; if both teams have an equal number of goals then the game is a draw. The primary rule for this objective is that players, other than the goalkeepers, may not intentionally touch the ball with their hands or arms during play (though they do use their hands during a throw-in restart). Although players mainly use their feet to move the ball around, they may use any part of their bodies other than their hands or arms.

A goalkeeper dives to stop the ball from entering his goal.In typical game play, players attempt to move towards a goal through individual control of the ball, such as by dribbling (running with the ball close to their feet); by passing the ball from team-mate to team-mate; and by taking shots at the goal. Opposition players may try to regain control of the ball by intercepting a pass or through tackling the opponent who controls the ball.

Football is generally a free-flowing game with the ball in play at all times except when the ball has left the field of play by wholly crossing over a boundary line (either on the ground or in the air), or play has been stopped by the referee. When play has been stopped, it recommences with a specified restart (see below).

The game is played in accordance with a set of rules known as the Laws of the Game, which are summarised below.

The Laws of the Game

History and development See also: Football The Laws of the Game are based on efforts made in the mid-19th century to standardise the rules of the widely varying games of football played at the public schools of England. The first set of rules resembling the modern game were produced at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1848, at a meeting attended by representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury, but they were far from universally adopted. During the 1850s, many clubs were formed, thoughout the English-speaking world, independent of schools or universities, to play various forms of football. Some came up with their own distinct codes of rules, most notably the Sheffield Football Club (formed by former pupils from Harrow) in 1857, which led to formation of a Sheffield FA in 1867. In 1862, J.C. Thring of Uppingham School also devised an influential set of rules.

These efforts contribute to the formation of The Football Association (The FA) in 1863 which first met on the evening of 26 October 1863 at the Freemason's Tavern in Great Queen Street, London. The only school to be represented on this occasion was Charterhouse. The Freemason's Tavern was the setting for five more meetings between October and December, which eventually produced the first comprehensive set of rules. At the final meeting, the first FA treasurer, who was the representative from Blackheath, withdrew his club from the FA over the removal of two draft rules at the previous meeting, the first which allowed for the running with the ball in hand and the second, obstructing such a run by hacking (kicking an opponent in the shins), tripping and holding. Other English rugby clubs followed this lead and did not join the FA but instead in 1871 formed the Rugby Football Union. The eleven remaining clubs, under the charge of Ebenezer Cobb Morley, went on to ratify the original fourteen rules of the game. Despite this, the Sheffield FA played by its own rules until the 1870s.

Today the laws of the game are determined by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The Board was formed in 1882 after a meeting in Manchester of The Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales, and the Irish Football Association. The F�d�ration Internationale de Football Association FIFA, the international football body, was formed in Paris in 1904 and declared that they would adhere to the rules laid down by the IFAB. The growing popularity of the international game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to the IFAB in 1913. Today the board is made up of four representatives from FIFA and one representative from each of the four British associations

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