Football (soccer)

Football (soccer)

Overview
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport
Team sport
A team sport includes any sport which involves players working together towards a shared objective. A team sport is an activity in which a group of individuals, on the same team, work together to accomplish an ultimate goal which is usually to win. This can be done in a number of ways such as...

 played between two teams of eleven players
Football player
A football player, footballer is a sportsperson that plays one of the different types of football.The main types of football that are played include American football, Association football , Australian rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, Rugby league, Rugby union.It has been...

 with a spherical ball. At the turn of the 21st century, the game was played by over 250 million players in over 200 countries, making it the world's most popular sport.

The game is played on a rectangular field
Association football pitch
An association football pitch is the playing surface for the game of association football made of turf. Its dimensions and markings are defined by Law 1 of the Laws of the Game, "The Field of Play".All line markings on the pitch form part of the area which they define...

 of grass or green artificial turf
Artificial turf
Artificial turf is a surface manufactured from synthetic fibers made to look like natural grass. It is most often used in arenas for sports that were originally or are normally played on grass. However, it is now being used on residential lawns and commercial applications as well...

, with a goal
Goal (sport)
Goal refers to a method of scoring in many sports. It can also refer to the physical structure or area of the playing surface where scoring occurs....

 in the middle of each of the short ends.
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Encyclopedia
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport
Team sport
A team sport includes any sport which involves players working together towards a shared objective. A team sport is an activity in which a group of individuals, on the same team, work together to accomplish an ultimate goal which is usually to win. This can be done in a number of ways such as...

 played between two teams of eleven players
Football player
A football player, footballer is a sportsperson that plays one of the different types of football.The main types of football that are played include American football, Association football , Australian rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, Rugby league, Rugby union.It has been...

 with a spherical ball. At the turn of the 21st century, the game was played by over 250 million players in over 200 countries, making it the world's most popular sport.

The game is played on a rectangular field
Association football pitch
An association football pitch is the playing surface for the game of association football made of turf. Its dimensions and markings are defined by Law 1 of the Laws of the Game, "The Field of Play".All line markings on the pitch form part of the area which they define...

 of grass or green artificial turf
Artificial turf
Artificial turf is a surface manufactured from synthetic fibers made to look like natural grass. It is most often used in arenas for sports that were originally or are normally played on grass. However, it is now being used on residential lawns and commercial applications as well...

, with a goal
Goal (sport)
Goal refers to a method of scoring in many sports. It can also refer to the physical structure or area of the playing surface where scoring occurs....

 in the middle of each of the short ends. The object of the game is to score by driving the ball into the opposing goal. In general play, the goalkeepers are the only players allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms, while the field players typically use their feet to kick
Kick (football)
Kicking is a method used by many types of football, including:* Association football* Australian rules football* International rules football* American football* Canadian football* Gaelic football* Rugby league* Rugby union...

 the ball into position, occasionally using their torso or head to intercept a ball in midair. The team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is tied at the end of the game, either a draw
Tie (draw)
To tie or draw is to finish a competition with identical or inconclusive results. The word "tie" is usually used in North America for sports such as American football. "Draw" is usually used in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations and it is usually used for sports such as...

 is declared or the game goes into extra time and/or a penalty shootout, depending on the format of the competition.

The Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by the Football Association
The Football Association
The Football Association, also known as simply The FA, is the governing body of football in England, and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1863, and is the oldest national football association...

 in 1863 and have evolved since then. Association football is governed internationally by FIFA
FIFA
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association , commonly known by the acronym FIFA , is the international governing body of :association football, futsal and beach football. Its headquarters are located in Zurich, Switzerland, and its president is Sepp Blatter, who is in his fourth...

, which organises the FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 every four years.

Etymology and names


The rules of football were codified in England by the Football Association in 1863 and the name association football was coined to distinguish the game from the other forms of football
Football
Football may refer to one of a number of team sports which all involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot to score a goal. The most popular of these sports worldwide is association football, more commonly known as just "football" or "soccer"...

 played at the time, specifically rugby football
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

. The term soccer originated in England, first appearing in the 1880s as an Oxford "-er" abbreviation of the word "association".

Within the English-speaking world
English-speaking world
The English-speaking world consists of those countries or regions that use the English language to one degree or another. For more information, please see:Lists:* List of countries by English-speaking population...

, association football is usually called football (or colloquially footy) in the United Kingdom, and soccer in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Other countries may use either or both terms, and may also have local names for the sport.

Gameplay


Association football is played in accordance with a set of rules known as the Laws of the Game. The game is played using a spherical ball (of 28 in (71.1 cm) circumference in FIFA play), known as the football (or soccer ball). Two teams of eleven players each compete to get the ball into the other team's goal (between the posts and under the bar), thereby scoring a goal. The team that has scored more goals at the end of the game is the winner; if both teams have scored an equal number of goals then the game is a draw. Each team is led by a captain who has only one official responsibility as mandated by the Laws of the Game: to be involved in the coin toss prior to kick-off or penalty kicks.

The primary law is that players other than goalkeepers
Goalkeeper (football)
In association football, the goalkeeper occupies a position that represents the last line of defence between the opponent's offence and his own team's goal. The primary role of the goalkeeper is to defend his team's goal and prevent the opposition from scoring a goal...

 may not deliberately handle the ball with their hands or arms during play, though they do use their hands during a throw-in
Throw-in
A throw-in is a method of restarting play in a game of Association football.-Procedure:The throw-in is taken from the point where the ball crossed the touch-line. The throw-in is taken by the opponents of the player who last touched the ball when it crossed the touch-line, either on the ground or...

 restart. Although players usually use their feet to move the ball around, they may use any part of their body (notably, "heading" with the forehead) other than their hands or arms. Within normal play, all players are free to play the ball in any direction and move throughout the pitch, though the ball cannot be received in an offside
Offside (football)
Offside is a law in football which states that if a player is in an offside position when the ball is touched or played by a teammate, he may not become actively involved in the play...

 position.

In typical game play, players attempt to create goal-scoring opportunities through individual control of the ball, such as by dribbling
Dribbling
In sports, dribbling refers to the maneuvering of a ball around a defender through short skillful taps or kicks with either the legs , hands , stick or swimming strokes...

, passing the ball to a team-mate, and by taking shots at the goal, which is guarded by the opposing goalkeeper. Opposing players may try to regain control of the ball by intercepting a pass or through tackling the opponent in possession of the ball; however, physical contact between opponents is restricted. Football is generally a free-flowing game, with play stopping only when the ball has left the field of play or when play is stopped by the referee for an infringement of the rules. After a stoppage, play recommences with a specified restart.


At a professional level, most matches produce only a few goals. For example, the 2005–06 season
FA Premier League 2005-06
The 2005–06 season of the FA Premier League began on 13 August 2005, and concluded on 7 May 2006. The season saw Chelsea F.C retain their title after defeating Manchester United 3–0 at Stamford Bridge towards the end of April...

 of the English Premier League produced an average of 2.48 goals per match. The Laws of the Game do not specify any player positions other than goalkeeper, but a number of specialised roles have evolved. Broadly, these include three main categories: striker
Striker
Forwards, also known as strikers, are the players on a team in association football who play nearest to the opposing team's goal, and are therefore principally responsible for scoring goals...

s, or forwards, whose main task is to score goals; defenders
Defender (football)
Within the sport of association football, a defender is an outfield player whose primary role is to prevent the opposition from attacking....

, who specialise in preventing their opponents from scoring; and midfielder
Midfielder
A midfielder is an association football position. Some midfielders play a more defensive role, while others blur the boundaries between midfielders and forwards. The number of midfielders a team uses during a match may vary, depending on the team's formation and each individual player's role...

s, who dispossess the opposition and keep possession of the ball in order to pass it to the forwards on their team. Players in these positions are referred to as outfield players, in order to distinguish them from the goalkeeper. These positions are further subdivided according to the area of the field in which the player spends most time. For example, there are central defenders, and left and right midfielders. The ten outfield players may be arranged in any combination. The number of players in each position determines the style of the team's play; more forwards and fewer defenders creates a more aggressive and offensive-minded game, while the reverse creates a slower, more defensive style of play. While players typically spend most of the game in a specific position, there are few restrictions on player movement, and players can switch positions at any time. The layout of a team's players is known as a formation
Formation (football)
In association football, the formation describes how the players in a team are positioned on the pitch. Different formations can be used depending on whether a team wishes to play more attacking or defensive football....

. Defining the team's formation and tactics is usually the prerogative of the team's manager
Manager (association football)
In association football, a manager is responsible for running a football club or a national team. The manager of a professional club is responsible directly to the club president. The position of manager is almost exclusively used in British football...

.

History


Games revolving around the kicking of a ball have been played in many countries throughout history. According to FIFA, the "very earliest form of the game for which there is scientific evidence was an exercise from a military manual dating back to the second and third centuries BC in China", which was known as cuju
Cuju
Cuju is an ancient code of football with similarities to association football. It is seen by some to be a forerunner of modern football and originated in China, and was also played in Korea, Japan and Vietnam.-History:...

. The modern rules of association football are based on the mid-19th century efforts to standardise the widely varying forms of football
English public school football games
During the early modern era students, former students and teachers at English public schools developed and wrote down the first codes of football, most notably the Eton College...

 played at the public schools of England. The history of football in England dates back to at least the eighth century.

The Cambridge Rules, first drawn up at Cambridge University in 1848, were particularly influential in the development of subsequent codes, including association football. The Cambridge Rules were written at Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

, at a meeting attended by representatives from Eton
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

, Harrow
Harrow School
Harrow School, commonly known simply as "Harrow", is an English independent school for boys situated in the town of Harrow, in north-west London.. The school is of worldwide renown. There is some evidence that there has been a school on the site since 1243 but the Harrow School we know today was...

, Rugby
Rugby School
Rugby School is a co-educational day and boarding school located in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, England. It is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain.-History:...

, Winchester
Winchester College
Winchester College is an independent school for boys in the British public school tradition, situated in Winchester, Hampshire, the former capital of England. It has existed in its present location for over 600 years and claims the longest unbroken history of any school in England...

 and Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury School
Shrewsbury School is a co-educational independent school for pupils aged 13 to 18, founded by Royal Charter in 1552. The present campus to which the school moved in 1882 is located on the banks of the River Severn in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England...

 schools. They were not universally adopted. During the 1850s, many clubs unconnected to schools or universities were formed throughout the English-speaking world, to play various forms of football. Some came up with their own distinct codes of rules, most notably the Sheffield Football Club
Sheffield F.C.
Sheffield Football Club is an English football club from Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The club is most noted for the fact that they are the world's oldest club now playing Association football, founded in 1857...

, formed by former public school pupils in 1857, which led to formation of a Sheffield FA in 1867. In 1862, John Charles Thring of Uppingham School
Uppingham School
Uppingham School is a co-educational independent school of the English public school tradition, situated in the small town of Uppingham in Rutland, England...

 also devised an influential set of rules.

These ongoing efforts contributed to the formation of The Football Association
The Football Association
The Football Association, also known as simply The FA, is the governing body of football in England, and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1863, and is the oldest national football association...

 (The FA) in 1863, which first met on the morning of 26 October 1863 at the Freemasons' Tavern in Great Queen Street
Great Queen Street
Great Queen Street is a street in central London, England in the West End. It is a continuation of Long Acre from Drury Lane to Kingsway. It runs from 1 to 44 along the north side, east to west, and 45 to about 80 along the south side, west to east...

, London. The only school to be represented on this occasion was Charterhouse
Charterhouse School
Charterhouse School, originally The Hospital of King James and Thomas Sutton in Charterhouse, or more simply Charterhouse or House, is an English collegiate independent boarding school situated at Godalming in Surrey.Founded by Thomas Sutton in London in 1611 on the site of the old Carthusian...

. 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, the representative from Blackheath, withdrew his club from the FA over the removal of two draft rules at the previous meeting: the first allowed for running with the ball in hand; the second for obstructing such a run by hacking (kicking an opponent in the shins), tripping and holding. Other English rugby football clubs followed this lead
History of rugby union
The history of rugby union follows from various football games played long before the 19th century, but it was not until the middle of that century that rules were formulated and codified....

 and did not join the FA, or subsequently left the FA and instead in 1871 formed the Rugby Football Union
Rugby Football Union
The Rugby Football Union was founded in 1871 as the governing body for the sport of rugby union, and performed as the international governing body prior to the formation of the International Rugby Board in 1886...

. The eleven remaining clubs, under the charge of Ebenezer Cobb Morley
Ebenezer Cobb Morley
Ebenezer Cobb Morley was an English sportsman and is regarded as the father of The Football Association and modern Football.Morley was born at 10 Garden Square, Princess Street in Hull and lived in the city until he was 22. He moved to Barnes in 1858 forming the Barnes Club, a founding member of...

, went on to ratify the original thirteen laws of the game. These rules included handling of the ball by "marks" and the lack of a crossbar, rules which made it remarkably similar to Victorian rules football
Australian rules football
Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, also called football, Aussie rules or footy is a sport played between two teams of 22 players on either...

 being developed at that time in Australia. The Sheffield FA played by its own rules until the 1870s with the FA absorbing some of its rules until there was little difference between the games.

The laws of the game are currently determined by the International Football Association Board
International Football Association Board
The International Football Association Board is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football.-Operations:...

 (IFAB). The Board was formed in 1886 after a meeting in Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 of The Football Association, the Scottish Football Association
Scottish Football Association
The Scottish Football Association is the governing body of football in Scotland and has the ultimate responsibility for the control and development of football in Scotland. Members of the SFA include clubs in Scotland, affiliated national associations as well as local associations...

, the Football Association of Wales
Football Association of Wales
The Football Association of Wales is the governing body of association football in Wales. It is a member of FIFA, UEFA and the IFAB.Established in 1876 , it is the third-oldest national association in the world, and is one of the four associations The Football Association of Wales (FAW) is the...

, and the Irish Football Association
Irish Football Association
The Irish Football Association is the organising body for association football in Northern Ireland, and was historically the governing body for Ireland...

. The world's oldest football competition is the FA Cup
FA Cup
The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. The "FA Cup" is run by and named after The Football Association and usually refers to the English men's...

, which was founded by C. W. Alcock
C. W. Alcock
Charles William Alcock was an influential English sportsman and administrator. He was a major instigator in the development of both international football and cricket, as well as being the creator of the FA Cup....

 and has been contested by English teams since 1872. The first official international football match
Scotland v England (1872)
Scotland v England was the first ever official international football match to be played. It was contested by the national teams of Scotland and England. The match took place on 30 November 1872 at West of Scotland Cricket Club's ground at Hamilton Crescent in Partick, Scotland...

 took place in 1872 between Scotland and England in Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

, again at the instigation of C. W. Alcock. England is home to the world's first football league
The Football League
The Football League, also known as the npower Football League for sponsorship reasons, is a league competition featuring professional association football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888, it is the oldest such competition in world football...

, which was founded in Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 in 1888 by Aston Villa
Aston Villa F.C.
Aston Villa Football Club is an English professional association football club based in Witton, Birmingham. The club was founded in 1874 and have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were founder members of The Football League in 1888. They were also founder...

 director William McGregor. The original format contained 12 clubs from the Midlands
English Midlands
The Midlands, or the English Midlands, is the traditional name for the area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia. It borders Southern England, Northern England, East Anglia and Wales. Its largest city is Birmingham, and it was an important...

 and the North of England. FIFA, the international football body, was formed in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 in 1904 and declared that they would adhere to Laws of the Game of the Football Association. The growing popularity of the international game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to the International Football Association Board
International Football Association Board
The International Football Association Board is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football.-Operations:...

 in 1913. The board currently consists of four representatives from FIFA and one representative from each of the four British associations.

Today, football is played at a professional
Professional sports
Professional sports, as opposed to amateur sports, are sports in which athletes receive payment for their performance. Professional athleticism has come to the fore through a combination of developments. Mass media and increased leisure have brought larger audiences, so that sports organizations...

 level all over the world. Millions of people regularly go to football stadiums to follow their favourite teams, while billions more watch the game on television or on the internet. A very large number of people also play football at an amateur level. According to a survey conducted by FIFA published in 2001, over 240 million people from more than 200 countries regularly play football. Football has the highest global television audience in sport.

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. The Côte d'Ivoire national football team
Côte d'Ivoire national football team
The Côte d'Ivoire National Football Team or Ivory Coast National Football Team, nicknamed Les Éléphants , represents Côte d'Ivoire in international football and is controlled by the Fédération Ivoirienne de Football...

 helped secure a truce to the nation's civil war in 2006 and it helped further reduce tensions between government and rebel forces in 2007 by playing a match in the rebel capital of Bouaké
Bouaké
Bouaké is the second largest city in Côte d'Ivoire, with a population of 775,300 . It is the main urban settlement of the Bouaké Department with a population exceeding 1.2 million, in the Vallée du Bandama Region...

, an occasion that brought both armies together peacefully for the first time. By contrast, football is widely considered to be the final proximate cause in the Football War
Football War
The Football War , also known as the Soccer War or 100 hour War, was a four-day war fought by El Salvador and Honduras in 1969. It was caused by political conflicts between Hondurans and Salvadorans, namely issues concerning immigration from El Salvador to Honduras...

 in June 1969 between El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

 and Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

. The sport also exacerbated tensions at the beginning of the Yugoslav wars
Yugoslav wars
The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars, fought throughout the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats and Bosniaks on the other; but also...

 of the 1990s, when a match between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade
Red Star Belgrade
Red Star Belgrade is a football club from Belgrade, Serbia. The club is a part of the Red Star Sports Society.Red Star Belgrade is the most successful Serbian club, with a record of 25 national championships and 23 national cups in both Serbian and ex-Yugoslav competitions...

 degenerated into rioting in March 1990.

Laws


There are 17 laws in the official Laws of the Game. The same laws are designed to apply to all levels of football, although certain modifications for groups such as juniors, seniors, women and people with physical disabilities are permitted. The laws are often framed in broad terms, which allow flexibility in their application depending on the nature of the game. The Laws of the Game are published by FIFA, but are maintained by the International Football Association Board
International Football Association Board
The International Football Association Board is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football.-Operations:...

 (IFAB), not FIFA itself. In addition to the seventeen laws, numerous IFAB decisions and other directives contribute to the regulation of football. The most complex of the laws is offside
Offside (football)
Offside is a law in football which states that if a player is in an offside position when the ball is touched or played by a teammate, he may not become actively involved in the play...

. The offside law limits the ability of attacking players to receive the ball when closer to the opponent's goal line than: the ball itself; the second-to-last defending player (which can include the goalkeeper); and the half-way line.

Players, equipment, and officials


Each team consists of a maximum of eleven players (excluding substitute
Substitute (football)
In association football, a substitute is a player who is brought on to the pitch during a match in exchange for an existing player. Substitutions are generally made to replace a player who has become tired or injured, or who is not performing well; there may also be tactical reasons such as...

s), one of whom must be the goalkeeper
Goalkeeper (football)
In association football, the goalkeeper occupies a position that represents the last line of defence between the opponent's offence and his own team's goal. The primary role of the goalkeeper is to defend his team's goal and prevent the opposition from scoring a goal...

. Competition rules may state a minimum number of players required to constitute a team, which is usually seven. Goalkeepers are the only players allowed to play the ball with their hands or arms, provided they do so within the penalty area in front of their own goal. Though there are a variety of positions in which the outfield (non-goalkeeper) players are strategically placed by a coach, these positions are not defined or required by the Laws.

The basic equipment or kit players are required to wear includes a shirt, shorts, socks, footwear and adequate shin guard
Shin guard
A shin guard or shin pad is a piece of equipment worn on the front of a player’s shin to protect them from injury. These are commonly used in sports including association football, baseball, ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, rugby, cricket, and other sports...

s. Headgear
Association football headgear
Association football headgear is worn by association football players to protect the head from injury. The headgear is designed to absorb the impact of blows to the head by external physical forces in order to reduce the chance of a concussion, a noteworthy example in international football being...

 is not a required piece of basic equipment, but players today may choose to wear it to protect themselves from head injury. Players are forbidden to wear or use anything that is dangerous to themselves or another player, such as jewellery or watches. The goalkeeper must wear clothing that is easily distinguishable from that worn by the other players and the match officials.

A number of players may be replaced by substitutes during the course of the game. The maximum number of substitutions permitted in most competitive international and domestic league games is three, though the permitted number may vary in other competitions or in friendly matches. Common reasons for a substitution include injury, tiredness, ineffectiveness, a tactical switch, or timewasting
Timewasting
Timewasting in the context of sports refers to the actions of one team which expend time, but do not otherwise have a tactical purpose. This is usually done by a team that is winning by a slim margin near the end of a game, in order to reduce the time available for the opposing team to score...

 at the end of a finely poised game. In standard adult matches, a player who has been substituted may not take further part in a match. IFAB recommends that "that a match should not continue if there are fewer than seven players in either team." Any decision regarding points awarded for abandoned games is left to the individual football associations.

A game is officiated by a referee, who has "full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed" (Law 5), and whose decisions are final. The referee is assisted by two assistant referees. In many high-level games there is also a fourth official who assists the referee and may replace another official should the need arise.

Pitch




As the Laws were formulated in England, and were initially administered solely by the four British football associations within IFAB, the standard dimensions of a football pitch were originally expressed in imperial units. The Laws now express dimensions with approximate metric
Si
Si, si, or SI may refer to :- Measurement, mathematics and science :* International System of Units , the modern international standard version of the metric system...

 equivalents (followed by traditional units in brackets), though popular use tends to continue to use traditional units in English-speaking countries with a relatively recent history of metrication
Metrication
Metrication refers to the introduction and use of the SI metric system, the international standard for physical measurements. This has involved a long process of independent and systematic conversions of countries from various local systems of weights and measures. Metrication began in France in...

 (or only partial metrication), such as Britain.

The length of the pitch for international adult matches is in the range of 100–110 m (110–120 yd) and the width is in the range of 64–75 m (70–80 yd). Fields for non-international matches may be 90–120 m (100–130 yd) length and 45–90 m (50–100 yd) in width, provided that the pitch does not become square. Although in 2008, the IFAB initially approved a fixed size of 105 m (344 ft) long and 68 m (223 ft) wide as a standard pitch dimension for A international matches, this decision was later put on hold and was never actually implemented.

The longer boundary lines are touchlines, while the shorter boundaries (on which the goals are placed) are goal lines. A rectangular goal is positioned at the middle of each goal line. The inner edges of the vertical goal posts must be 7.32 m (8 yd) apart, and the lower edge of the horizontal crossbar supported by the goal posts must be 2.44 m (8 ft) above the ground. Nets are usually placed behind the goal, but are not required by the Laws.

In front of each goal is an area known as the penalty area
Penalty area
The penalty area , is an area of an association football pitch. It is rectangular and extends to each side of the goal and in front of it. Within the penalty area is the penalty spot , which is from the goal line, directly in-line with the centre of the goal...

. This area is marked by the goal line, two lines starting on the goal line 16.5 m (18 yd) from the goalposts and extending 16.5 m (18 yd) into the pitch perpendicular to the goal line, and a line joining them. This area has a number of functions, the most prominent being to mark where the goalkeeper may handle the ball and where a penalty foul by a member of the defending team becomes punishable by a penalty kick. Other markings define the position of the ball or players at kick-offs, goal kicks, penalty kicks and corner kicks.

Duration and tie-breaking methods


A standard adult football match consists of two periods of 45 minutes each, known as halves. Each half runs continuously, meaning that the clock is not stopped when the ball is out of play. There is usually a 15-minute half-time break between halves. The end of the match is known as full-time. The referee is the official timekeeper for the match, and may make an allowance for time lost through substitutions, injured players requiring attention, or other stoppages. This added time is most commonly referred to as stoppage time or injury time, while loss time can also be used as a synonym. The duration of stoppage time is at the sole discretion of the referee. The referee alone signals the end of the match. In matches where a fourth official is appointed, toward the end of the half the referee signals how many minutes of stoppage time he intends to add. The fourth official then informs the players and spectators by holding up a board showing this number. The signalled stoppage time may be further extended by the referee. Added time was introduced because of an incident which happened in 1891 during a match between Stoke
Stoke City F.C.
Stoke City Football Club is an English professional football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire that plays in the Premier League. Founded in 1863, it is the oldest club in the Premier League, and considered to be the second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts...

 and Aston Villa
Aston Villa F.C.
Aston Villa Football Club is an English professional association football club based in Witton, Birmingham. The club was founded in 1874 and have played at their current home ground, Villa Park, since 1897. Aston Villa were founder members of The Football League in 1888. They were also founder...

. Trailing 1–0 and with just two minutes remaining, Stoke were awarded a penalty. Villa's goalkeeper kicked the ball out of the ground, and by the time the ball had been recovered, the 90 minutes had elapsed and the game was over. The same law also stands that the duration of either half is extended until the penalty kick to be taken or retaken is completed, thus no game shall end with a penalty to be taken.

In league competitions, games may end in a draw, but in some knockout competitions if a game is tied at the end of regulation time it may go into extra time, which consists of two further 15-minute periods. If the score is still tied after extra time, some competitions allow the use of penalty shootouts
Penalty shootout (football)
A penalty shoot-out, referred to as kicks from the penalty mark in the Laws of the Game, is the FIFA official term for a method used in association football to decide which team progresses to the next stage of a tournament following a tied game...

 (known officially in the Laws of the Game as "kicks from the penalty mark") to determine which team will progress to the next stage of the tournament. Goals scored during extra time periods count toward the final score of the game, but kicks from the penalty mark are only used to decide the team that progresses to the next part of the tournament (with goals scored in a penalty shootout not making up part of the final score).

In competitions using two-legged match
Two-legged match
In sport , a two-legged tie is a contest between two teams which comprises two matches or legs, with each team as the home team in one leg. The winning team is usually determined by aggregate score, the sum of the scores of the two legs...

es, each team competes at home once, with an aggregate score from the two matches deciding which team progresses. Where aggregates are equal, the away goals rule
Away goals rule
The away goals rule is a method of breaking ties in association football and other sports when teams play each other twice, once at each team's home ground. By the away goals rule, the team that has scored more goals "away from home" will win if scores are otherwise equal...

 may be used to determine the winners, in which case the winner is the team that scored the most goals in the leg played away from home. If the result is still equal, kicks from the penalty mark are required.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the IFAB experimented with ways of creating a winner without requiring a penalty shootout, which was often seen as an undesirable way to end a match. These involved rules ending a game in extra time early, either when the first goal in extra time was scored (golden goal
Golden goal
The golden goal is a method used in association football, field hockey, ice hockey and korfball to decide the winner of games in elimination matches which end in a draw after the end of regulation time. It is a type of sudden death. Golden goal rules allow the team that scores the first goal during...

), or if one team held a lead at the end of the first period of extra time (silver goal). Golden goal was used at the World Cup in 1998
1998 FIFA World Cup
The 1998 FIFA World Cup, the 16th FIFA World Cup, was held in France from 10 June to 12 July 1998. France was chosen as host nation by FIFA on 2 July 1992. The tournament was won by France, who beat Brazil 3-0 in the final...

 and 2002
2002 FIFA World Cup
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the last in which the golden goal rule was implemented. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, beating Germany 2–0...

. The first World Cup game decided by a golden goal was France
France national football team
The France national football team represents the nation of France in international football. It is fielded by the French Football Federation , the governing body of football in France, and competes as a member of UEFA, which encompasses the countries of Europe...

's victory over Paraguay
Paraguay national football team
The Paraguay national football team is controlled by the Paraguayan Football Association and represents Paraguay in men's international football competitions. The team has reached the second round of the World Cup on four occasions . The 2010 trip also featured their first appearance in the...

 in 1998. Germany
Germany national football team
The Germany national football team is the football team that has represented Germany in international competition since 1908. It is governed by the German Football Association , which was founded in 1900....

 was the first nation to score a golden goal in a major competition, beating Czech Republic
Czech Republic national football team
The Czech Republic national football team represents the Czech Republic in association football and is controlled by the Football Association of the Czech Republic, the governing body for football in the Czech Republic. Their current head coach is Michal Bílek...

 in the final of Euro 1996. Silver goal was used in Euro 2004. Both these experiments have been discontinued by IFAB.

Ball in and out of play


Under the Laws, the two basic states of play during a game are ball in play and ball out of play. From the beginning of each playing period with a kick-off until the end of the playing period, the ball is in play at all times, except when either the ball leaves the field of play, or play is stopped by the referee. When the ball becomes out of play, play is restarted by one of eight restart methods depending on how it went out of play:
  • Kick-off: following a goal by the opposing team, or to begin each period of play.
  • Throw-in
    Throw-in
    A throw-in is a method of restarting play in a game of Association football.-Procedure:The throw-in is taken from the point where the ball crossed the touch-line. The throw-in is taken by the opponents of the player who last touched the ball when it crossed the touch-line, either on the ground or...

    : when the ball has crossed the touchline; awarded to opposing team to that which last touched the ball.
  • Goal kick
    Goal kick
    A goal kick, called a goalie kick in some regions,is a method of restarting play in a game of association football.-Award:A goal kick is awarded to the defending team when the ball goes out of the field of play by crossing the goal line when the last person to touch the ball was from the attacking...

    : when the ball has wholly crossed the goal line without a goal having been scored and having last been touched by a player of the attacking team; awarded to defending team.
  • Corner kick
    Corner kick
    A corner kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. It was first devised in Sheffield under the Sheffield Rules 1867...

    : when the ball has wholly crossed the goal line without a goal having been scored and having last been touched by a player of the defending team; awarded to attacking team.
  • Indirect free kick
    Indirect free kick
    An indirect free kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. Unlike a direct free kick, a goal may not be scored directly from the kick. The law was derived from the Sheffield Rules that stated that no goal could be scored from a free kick...

    : awarded to the opposing team following "non-penal" fouls, certain technical infringements, or when play is stopped to caution or send-off an opponent without a specific foul having occurred. A goal may not be scored directly (without the ball first touching another player) from an indirect free kick.
  • Direct free kick
    Direct free kick
    A direct free kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football following a foul. Unlike an indirect free kick, a goal may be scored directly against the opposing side without the ball having first touched another player.-Award:...

    : awarded to fouled team following certain listed "penal" fouls. A goal may be scored directly from a direct free kick.
  • Penalty kick: awarded to the fouled team following a foul usually punishable by a direct free kick but that has occurred within their opponent's penalty area.
  • Dropped-ball
    Dropped-ball
    A dropped-ball is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. It is designed to offer no advantage to either side, generally being awarded when play has been stopped due to reasons other than normal gameplay or misconduct.-Award:A drop-ball is not awarded to either team; rather...

    : occurs when the referee has stopped play for any other reason, such as a serious injury to a player, interference by an external party, or a ball becoming defective. This restart is uncommon in adult games.

Misconduct



A foul
Foul (football)
A foul in association football is an unfair act by a player which is deemed by the referee to contravene Law 12 of the Laws of the Game.For an act to be a foul it must:...

 occurs when a player commits an offence listed in the Laws of the Game while the ball is in play. The offences that constitute a foul are listed in Law 12. Handling the ball deliberately, tripping an opponent, or pushing an opponent, are examples of "penal fouls", punishable by a direct free kick
Direct free kick
A direct free kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football following a foul. Unlike an indirect free kick, a goal may be scored directly against the opposing side without the ball having first touched another player.-Award:...

 or penalty kick depending on where the offence occurred. Other fouls are punishable by an indirect free kick
Indirect free kick
An indirect free kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. Unlike a direct free kick, a goal may not be scored directly from the kick. The law was derived from the Sheffield Rules that stated that no goal could be scored from a free kick...

.
The referee may punish a player or substitute's misconduct
Misconduct (football)
Misconduct in association football is any conduct by a player that is deemed by the referee to warrant a disciplinary sanction in accordance with Law 12 of the Laws of the Game. Misconduct may occur at any time, including when the ball is out of play, during half-time and before and after the...

 by a caution (yellow card
Penalty card
A penalty card is used in many sports as a means of warning, reprimanding or penalising a player, coach or team official. Penalty cards are most commonly used by referees or umpires to indicate that a player has committed an offense. The referee will hold the card above his or her head while...

) or sending-off (red card
Penalty card
A penalty card is used in many sports as a means of warning, reprimanding or penalising a player, coach or team official. Penalty cards are most commonly used by referees or umpires to indicate that a player has committed an offense. The referee will hold the card above his or her head while...

). A second yellow card at the same game leads to a red card, and therefore to a sending-off. A player given a yellow card is said to have been "booked", the referee writing the player's name in his official notebook.
If a player has been sent off, no substitute can be brought on in their place. Misconduct may occur at any time, and while the offences that constitute misconduct are listed, the definitions are broad. In particular, the offence of "unsporting behaviour" may be used to deal with most events that violate the spirit of the game, even if they are not listed as specific offences. A referee can show a yellow or red card to a player, substitute or substituted player. Non-players such as managers and support staff cannot be shown the yellow or red card, but may be expelled from the technical area if they fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner.

Rather than stopping play, the referee may allow play to continue if doing so will benefit the team against which an offence has been committed. This is known as "playing an advantage". The referee may "call back" play and penalise the original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue within "a few seconds". Even if an offence is not penalised due to advantage being played, the offender may still be sanctioned for misconduct at the next stoppage of play.

Governing bodies



The recognised international governing body of football (and associated games, such as futsal
Futsal
Futsal is a variant of association football that is played on a smaller pitch and mainly played indoors. Its name is a portmanteau of the Portuguese futebol de salão and the Spanish fútbol de salón , which can be translated as "hall football" or "indoor football"...

 and beach soccer
Beach soccer
Beach soccer, also known as beach football or beasal, is a variant of association football played on a beach or some form of sand. The game emphasises skill, agility and shooting at goal....

) is the Fédération Internationale de Football Association
FIFA
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association , commonly known by the acronym FIFA , is the international governing body of :association football, futsal and beach football. Its headquarters are located in Zurich, Switzerland, and its president is Sepp Blatter, who is in his fourth...

 (FIFA). The FIFA headquarters are located in Zurich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

. Six regional confederations are associated with FIFA; these are:
  • Asia: Asian Football Confederation
    Asian Football Confederation
    The Asian Football Confederation is the governing body of association football in Asia. It has 46 member countries, mostly located on the Asian continent. However, due to the disputed boundary of Europe and Asia, nations such as Russia and Turkey which are located mostly in geographic Asia are...

     (AFC)
  • Africa: Confederation of African Football
    Confederation of African Football
    The Confederation of African Football is the administrative and controlling body for African association football.CAF represents the national football associations of Africa, runs continental, national, and club competitions, and controls the prize money, regulations and media rights to those...

     (CAF)
  • Europe: Union of European Football Associations
    UEFA
    The Union of European Football Associations , almost always referred to by its acronym UEFA is the administrative and controlling body for European association football, futsal and beach soccer....

     (UEFA)
  • North/Central America & Caribbean: Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football
    CONCACAF
    The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football is the continental governing body for association football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean...

     (CONCACAF)
  • Oceania: Oceania Football Confederation
    Oceania Football Confederation
    The Oceania Football Confederation is one of the six continental confederations of international association football, consisting of Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and island nations such as Tonga, Fiji and other Pacific Island countries...

     (OFC)
  • South America: Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol/Confederação Sul-americana de Futebol
    CONMEBOL
    The South American Football Confederation , commonly known as CONMEBOL , is the continental governing body of association football in South America and it is one of FIFA's six continental confederations...

     (South American Football Confederation; CONMEBOL)


National associations oversee football within individual countries. These are generally synonymous with sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s, (for example: the Fédération Camerounaise de Football
Fédération Camerounaise de Football
The Fédération Camerounaise de Football is the governing body of football in Cameroon.- External links :* * at the FIFA website.* at CAF Online...

 in Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

) but also include a smaller number of associations responsible for sub-national entities or autonomous regions (for example the Scottish Football Association
Scottish Football Association
The Scottish Football Association is the governing body of football in Scotland and has the ultimate responsibility for the control and development of football in Scotland. Members of the SFA include clubs in Scotland, affiliated national associations as well as local associations...

 in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

). 208 national associations are affiliated both with FIFA and with their respective continental confederations.

While FIFA is responsible for arranging competitions and most rules related to international competition, the actual Laws of the Game are set by the International Football Association Board
International Football Association Board
The International Football Association Board is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football.-Operations:...

, where each of the UK Associations has one vote, while FIFA collectively has four votes.

International competitions




The major international competition in football is the World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

, organised by FIFA. This competition takes place over a four-year period. More than 190 national teams compete in qualifying tournaments within the scope of continental confederations for a place in the finals. The finals tournament, which is held every four years, involves 32 national teams competing over a four-week period. The most recent tournament, the 2010 FIFA World Cup
2010 FIFA World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the 19th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It took place in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010...

, was held in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 from 11 June to 11 July.

There has been a football tournament
Football at the Summer Olympics
Association football, usually known simply as football or soccer, has been included in every Olympiad except 1896 and 1932 as a men's competition sport. Women's football was added to the official programme in 1996.-Early history:...

 at every Summer Olympic Games
Summer Olympic Games
The Summer Olympic Games or the Games of the Olympiad are an international multi-sport event, occurring every four years, organized by the International Olympic Committee. Medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, a tradition that...

 since 1900, except at the 1932 games in Los Angeles
1932 Summer Olympics
The 1932 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the X Olympiad, was a major world wide multi-athletic event which was celebrated in 1932 in Los Angeles, California, United States. No other cities made a bid to host these Olympics. Held during the worldwide Great Depression, many nations...

. Before the inception of the World Cup, the Olympics (especially during the 1920s) had the same status as the World Cup. Originally, the event was for amateurs only, however, since the 1984 Summer Olympics
1984 Summer Olympics
The 1984 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIII Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event held in Los Angeles, California, United States in 1984...

 professional players have been permitted, albeit with certain restrictions which prevent countries from fielding their strongest sides. Currently, the Olympic men's tournament is played at Under-23 level. In the past the Olympics have allowed a restricted number of over-age players per team; but that practice ceased in the 2008 Olympics. A women's tournament was added in 1996; in contrast to the men's event, full international sides without age restrictions play the women's Olympic tournament.

After the World Cup, the most important international football competitions are the continental championships, which are organised by each continental confederation and contested between national teams. These are the European Championship
UEFA European Football Championship
The UEFA European Football Championship is the main football competition of the men's national football teams governed by UEFA . Held every four years since 1960, in the even-numbered year between World Cup tournaments, it was originally called the UEFA European Nations Cup, changing to the current...

 (UEFA), the Copa América
Copa América
The Copa América —previously known as South American Championship—is an international football competition contested between the men's national teams of CONMEBOL, the sport's continental governing body...

 (CONMEBOL), African Cup of Nations
African Cup of Nations
The Africa Cup of Nations, also referred to as the African Cup of Nations or African Nations Cup, officially CAN , is the main international association football competition in Africa. It is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football , and was first held in 1957. Since 1968, it has been...

 (CAF), the Asian Cup (AFC), the CONCACAF Gold Cup
CONCACAF Gold Cup
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the main association football competition of the men's national football teams governed by CONCACAF, determining the regional champion of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.The Gold Cup is held every two years and when it does not fall the same year as an...

 (CONCACAF) and the OFC Nations Cup
OFC Nations Cup
The OFC Nations Cup is an international association football tournament held among the Oceania Football Confederation member nations. It was held every two years from 1996 to 2004; before 1996 there were two other tournaments held at irregular intervals, under the name Oceania Nations Cup...

 (OFC). The FIFA Confederations Cup
FIFA Confederations Cup
The FIFA Confederations Cup is an association football tournament for national teams, currently held every four years by FIFA. It is contested by the winners of each of the six FIFA confederation championships , along with the FIFA World Cup winner and the host nation, to bring the number of teams...

 is contested by the winners of all 6 continental championships, the current FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 champions and the country which is hosting the Confederations Cup. This is generally regarded as a warm up tournament for the upcoming FIFA World Cup and does not carry the same prestige as the World Cup itself. The most prestigious competitions in club football are the respective continental championships, which are generally contested between national champions, for example the UEFA Champions League
UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League, known simply the Champions League and originally known as the European Champion Clubs' Cup or European Cup, is an annual international club football competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations since 1955 for the top football clubs in Europe. It...

 in Europe and the Copa Libertadores de América
Copa Libertadores de América
The Copa Santander Libertadores de América , known simply as the Copa Libertadores and originally known as the Copa Campeones de América , is an annual international club football competition organized by CONMEBOL since 1960...

 in South America. The winners of each continental competition contest the FIFA Club World Cup
FIFA Club World Cup
The FIFA Club World Cup is a football competition between the champion clubs from all six continental confederations.The first FIFA Club World Championship took place in Brazil in January 2000...

.

Domestic competitions




The governing bodies in each country operate league system
League system
A league system is a hierarchy of leagues in a sport, usually with a system of promotion and relegation between consecutive levels of the hierarchy. They are often called pyramids due to their tendency to split into an increasing number of regional divisions the further down the pyramid one descends...

s in a domestic season
Domestic association football season
The domestic association football season in countries that association football is played around the world varies in length and time of year contested...

, normally comprising several division
Division (sport)
In sports, a division is a group of teams who compete against each other for a championship.-League system:In sports using a league system , a division consists a group of teams who play a sport at a similar competitive level...

s, in which the teams gain points throughout the season depending on results. Teams are placed into table
Table (information)
A table is a means of arranging data in rows and columns.Production % of goalNorth 4087102%South 4093110% The use of tables is pervasive throughout all communication, research and data analysis. Tables appear in print media, handwritten notes, computer software, architectural...

s, placing them in order according to points accrued. Most commonly, each team plays every other team in its league at home and away in each season, in a round-robin tournament
Round-robin tournament
A round-robin tournament is a competition "in which each contestant meets all other contestants in turn".-Terminology:...

. At the end of a season, the top team is declared the champion. The top few teams may be promoted
Promotion and relegation
In many sports leagues around the world, promotion and relegation is a process that takes place at the end of each season. Through it, teams are transferred between divisions based on their performance that season...

 to a higher division, and one or more of the teams finishing at the bottom are relegated
Promotion and relegation
In many sports leagues around the world, promotion and relegation is a process that takes place at the end of each season. Through it, teams are transferred between divisions based on their performance that season...

 to a lower division. The teams finishing at the top of a country's league may be eligible also to play in international club competitions in the following season. The main exceptions to this system occur in some Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

n leagues, which divide football championships into two sections named Apertura and Clausura
Apertura and Clausura
The Apertura and Clausura tournaments are a relatively recent innovation for many Latin American football leagues in which the traditional European football season from August to May is divided in two sections per season, each with its own champion. Apertura and Clausura are the Spanish words for...

 (Spanish for Opening and Closing), awarding a champion for each. The majority of countries supplement the league system with one or more "cup" competitions organised on a knock-out basis.

Some countries' top divisions feature highly paid star players; in smaller countries and lower divisions, players may be part-timers with a second job, or amateurs. The five top European leagues – the Premier League (England), La Liga
La Liga
The Primera División of the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional , commonly known as La Liga or, for sponsorship reasons, Liga BBVA since 2008, is the top professional association football division of the Spanish football league system...

 (Spain), Serie A
Serie A
Serie A , now called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship by Telecom Italia, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and has been operating for over eighty years since 1929. It had been organized by Lega Calcio until 2010, but a new...

 (Italy), the Bundesliga
Fußball-Bundesliga
The Fußball-Bundesliga is a professional association football league in Germany. At the top of Germany's football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. It is contested by 18 teams and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the 2. Bundesliga...

 (Germany) and Ligue 1
Ligue 1
Ligue 1 , is the French professional league for association football clubs. It is the country's primary football competition and serves as the top division of the French football league system. Ligue 1 is one of two divisions making up the Ligue de Football Professionnel, the other being Ligue 2....

 (France) – attract most of the world's best players and each of the leagues has a total wage cost in excess of £600 million/
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

763 million/$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

1.185 billion.

Women's association football



Women have been playing association football since the first recorded women's game in 1895 in North London. It has traditionally been associated with charity games and physical exercise, particularly in the United Kingdom. This perception began to change in the 1970s with the breakthrough of organised women's association football. Association football is the most prominent team sport
Team sport
A team sport includes any sport which involves players working together towards a shared objective. A team sport is an activity in which a group of individuals, on the same team, work together to accomplish an ultimate goal which is usually to win. This can be done in a number of ways such as...

 for women in several countries, and one of the few women's team sports with professional leagues
Women's professional sports
Professional athletes are distinguished from amateur athletes by virtue of being paid. Throughout the world, most top female athletes are not paid, and work full-time or part-time jobs in addition to their training, practice and competition schedules. Women's professional sports organizations defy...

.

The growth in women's football has seen major competitions being launched at both national
Women's football around the world
Women's association football is played in an increasing number of countries around the world.For international competitions see the article International competitions in women's football.-See also:*Women's football...

 and international
International competitions in women's football
This article lists all international competitions in women's football. The competitions included are for national teams as well as club sides. Competitions past and present are included. Note that some competitions may not be directly run by the governing body for the region.For domestic...

 level mirroring the male competitions. Women's football faced many struggles throughout its fight for right. It had a "golden age" in the United Kingdom in the early 1920s when crowds reached 50,000 at some matches; this was stopped on 5 December 1921 when England's Football Association voted to ban the game from grounds used by its member clubs. The FA's ban was rescinded in December 1969 with UEFA voting to officially recognise women's football in 1971. The FIFA Women's World Cup
FIFA Women's World Cup
The FIFA Women's World Cup is an international association football competition contested by the senior women's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the...

 was inaugurated in 1991 and has been held every four years since.

See also



  • Association football culture
  • Association football tactics and skills
  • List of association football clubs
  • List of women's association football clubs
  • List of men's national association football teams
  • List of top association football goal scorers
  • List of top association football goal scorers by country
  • Lists of association football players
  • Paralympic association football
  • Variants of association football
    Variants of association football
    There are many variants of association football played around the world, these use widely differing rules and some have a more formal structure than others. Games such as Indoor soccer were created to provide year-round play, others such as Paralympic football were created to allow those with...


External links