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Association football (soccer)

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Association football, colloquially known as football worldwide (except in a few countries where it is referred to as soccer), is a sport in which 11 players on each team compete to move a spherical ball around a grass field and into their opponents' goal. The unique factor is that the players, with the exception of the goalkeeper, may not use their hands or arms to control the ball. The ball is primarily controlled with the feet, though the head, chest, knees, etc. may be used at need. A football match is divided into two halves of 45 minutes each, with play being continuous throughout each half except for stoppages due to rule violations and injuries, for which stoppage time (aka injury time) is added on at the end of the half.

At the end of the match, the team with the most goals is declared the winner. Should the score be drawn, some sort of tiebreaker might be utilised, depending on the nature of the competition. In league games the game is normally declared a draw. In cup competitions and in a few league competitions, some form of tiebreaker may be utilised to determine a winner. The tiebreaker usually takes the form of extra time being played and, if the game is still undecided, there may be a penalty shoot-out or a replay.

Football is the most popular sport in the world in terms of spectators, player participation and media coverage. Its most successful competition in media terms is the World Cup, for international teams, which regularly draws a global TV audience twice that of the Summer Olympics. In financial and commercial terms, the most lucrative sports competition in the world is the UEFA Champions League, formerly called the European Cup, which is for club teams in Europe.

Internationally, the sport is controlled by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, universally known by the acronym FIFA. Once per year they publish the "Laws of the Game," the rules under which all football is conducted worldwide.

The major football nations worldwide are Argentina, Brazil, England (where the sport originated), France, Germany, Italy and Spain. But football is the national sport of the majority of countries in the world and even small countries have produced world-class players capable of performing for one of the major club sides such as Liverpool, Arsenal (both England), Glasgow Celtic (Scotland), AC Milan, Juventus FC (both Italy), Boca Juniors (Argentina), FC Bayern München (Germany), FC Barcelona, Real Madrid (both Spain) or AFC Ajax (Netherlands).

History

Origins

According to FIFA, the earliest verifiable game involving kicking a ball was Cuju, created in ancient China in the 2nd or 3rd century.

Modern football evolved in England in the 19th century from the centuries-old "folk football" after various schools and universities proposed their own rules of play.

The first universal rules of football was documented in the University of Cambridge in 1856. In 1863, these Cambridge rules were adopted by the Football Association at a meeting in London as the official rules of football.

See : History of football to 1900

Positions

Although the Laws of the Game do not specify specific roles for players (with the exception of the goalkeeper), a number of roles during play have become accepted unofficially accepted and are assigned to players in order to organize a team. There are three groups - forwards, midfielders, and defenders - which typically consist of 10 players per team, with the 11th player being the goalkeeper. From these three groups, players are assigned to the right, center, or left. Individual positions are also given names.

Forwards are responsible for bringing the ball into the opposing team's half, attacking the opposing team's goal, and scoring goals. Defenders are responsible for stopping the opposing team's forwards by stealing the ball, preventing or stopping shots, and then moving the ball out of their team's half by passing the ball to the forwards or midfielders or clearing it. Midfielders share the responsibilities of the forwards and defenders, as well as bringing the ball from their half of the field to the opposing team's field and setting up shots.

One popular lineup is four-three-three. (Lineups are read from back to front.) This means four defenders, three midfielders, and three forwards.

Another popular lineup of positions is four-four-two. This means four defenders, four midfielders, and two attackers. This has become a staple for many English Premiership clubs; the style allows a good use of wingers (left/right midfield players) and two complementing central midfield players - one defensive minded and the other creative minded.

Techniques

A number of techniques are commonly used by players.

  • Dribbling: Pushing the ball a short distance forward repeatedly, typically with the instep of the foot, so that a single player can continue controlling the ball while walking or running.
  • Faking: Performing a maneuver in order to misdirect an opponent. This is typically done by an attacker against a defender, so that the attacker can move past his opponent.
  • Passing: Moving the ball from one player to a teammate. Typically this means on the ground by striking the ball with the inside of the foot, although passing can refer to all methods of moving a ball between teammates (heading, chipping, etc.)
  • Chipping: Striking the ball up and forwards.
  • Clearing: Striking the ball out or away from one's own half of the field or goal area. This generally means kicking the ball up and out a long distance.
  • Crossing: Moving a ball from the side of an opponent's half to the center of the opponent's half closer to the goal, in order to begin an attack from the center.
  • Trapping: Stopping the ball from moving to bring it under control, usually after it is passed to a player or when it bounces to a player.
  • Shooting: Striking the ball in an attempt to put the ball in the opponent's net and score.
  • Volleying: Striking the ball with the foot when the ball is in the air, generally as a powerful shot.
  • Juggling: Repeatedly striking a ball from underneath in order to keep it in the air. This is not done during play: juggling's primary use is as a drill to practise control of a ball when it is airborne.

Laws of the Game and other rules

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) controls a set of seventeen rules called the Laws of the Game designed to regulate matches at all levels of the sport, with occasional slight modifications for some groups.

In addition to the Laws of the Game, leagues must add their own specific rules, such as those stating how long a half is or what size ball will be used.