Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer,is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world’s most popular sport.The game is played on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by getting the ball into the opposing goal.
Players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms while it is in play, unless they aregoalkeepers (and then only when within their penalty area). Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, but may also use their head or torso. The team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, either a draw is declared or the game goes into extra time 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 in 1863. Association football is governed internationally by theInternational Federation of Association Football (FIFA; French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which organises World Cups for both men and women every four years.
The rules of association 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 played at the time, specifically rugby football. The first written “reference to the inflated ball used in the game” was in the mid-14th century: “Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe”.The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the word “soccer” was “split off in 1863”. According to Partha Mazumdar, 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, association football is now usually called football in the United Kingdom and mainly soccer in Canada and the United States. People in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand use either or both terms, although national associations in Australia and New Zealand now primarily use “football” for the formal name.
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 68–70 cm (27–28 in) circumference, 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 represent his or her team in the coin toss prior to kick-off or penalty kicks.
The primary law is that players other than goalkeepers may not deliberately handle the ball with their hands or arms during play, though they must use both their hands during a throw-in 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 position.
During gameplay, players attempt to create goal-scoring opportunities through individual control of the ball, such as by dribbling, passing the ball to a teammate, 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 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: strikers, or forwards, whose main task is to score goals; defenders, who specialise in preventing their opponents from scoring; and midfielders, who dispossess the opposition and keep possession of the ball to pass it to the forwards on their team. Players in these positions are referred to as outfield players, 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. Defining the team’s formation and tactics is usually the prerogative of the team’s manager.
Players, equipment, and officials
Each team consists of a maximum of eleven players (excluding substitutes), one of whom must be the goalkeeper. 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 guards. An athletic supporter and protective cup is highly recommended for male players by medical experts and professionals.Headgear 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 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 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.