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Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a
team sport A team sport includes any sport where individuals are organized into opposing teams which compete to win or cooperate to entertain their audience. Team members act together towards a shared objective. This can be done in a number of ways s ...
played between two teams of 11
players Players may refer to: Art, entertainment, and media * ''Players'' (1979 film), a film starring Ali MacGraw * ''Players'' (2012 film), a Bollywood film * ''Players'' (Dicks novel), a novel by Terrance Dicks, based on the television series ''Doc ...
who primarily use their feet to propel the
ball A ball is a round object (usually spherical, but can sometimes be ovoid) with several uses. It is used in ball games, where the play of the game follows the state of the ball as it is hit, kicked or thrown by players. Balls can also be used ...
around a rectangular field called a pitch. The objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposition by moving the ball beyond the goal line into a rectangular framed
goal A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve. People endeavour to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines. A goal is roughly similar to a purpose or a ...
defended by the opposing side. Traditionally, the game has been played over two 45 minute halves, for a total match time of 90 minutes. With an estimated 250 million players active in over 200 countries, it is considered the world's most popular sport. The game of association football is played in accordance with the Laws of the Game, a set of rules that has been in effect since 1863 with the
International Football Association Board The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football. IFAB was founded in 1886 to agree standardised Laws for international competition, and has since acted as the "guardia ...
(IFAB) maintaining them since 1886. The game is played with a
football Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word ''football'' normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports commonl ...
that is in circumference. The two teams compete to get the ball into the other team's goal (between the posts and under the bar), thereby scoring a goal. When the ball is in play, the players mainly use their feet, but may use any other part of their body to control, strike or pass the ball apart from their hands or arms. Only the
goalkeepers Goalkeeper is a playing position in many team sports which involve scoring goals. Goalkeeper or goalkeepers may also refer to: Specific sports * Goalkeeper (association football) ** Goalkeeper glove ** Goalkeepers coach * Goalkeeper (bandy) * ...
may use their hands and arms, and only then within the
penalty area The penalty area or 18-yard box (also known less formally as the penalty box or simply box) is an area of an association football pitch. It is rectangular and extends 16.5m (18 yd) to each side of the goal and 16.5m (18 yd) in front of it. Wit ...
. The team that has scored more goals at the end of the game is the winner. Depending on the format of the competition, an equal number of goals scored may result in a
draw Draw, drawing, draws, or drawn may refer to: Common uses * Draw (terrain), a terrain feature formed by two parallel ridges or spurs with low ground in between them * Drawing (manufacturing), a process where metal, glass, or plastic or anything ...
being declared, or the game goes into
extra time Overtime or extra time is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw where the scores are the same. In some sports, this extra period is played only ...
or a
penalty shootout The penalty shootout is a method of determining a winner in sports matches that would have otherwise been drawn or tied. The rules for penalty shootouts vary between sports and even different competitions; however, the usual form is similar to pe ...
. Internationally, association football is globally governed by
FIFA FIFA (; stands for ''Fédération Internationale de Football Association'' (French), meaning International Association Football Federation ) is the international governing body of association football, beach football and futsal. It was founde ...
. The national associations are responsible for managing the game, both professionally and at an amateur level, in their own countries and coordinating competitions in accordance with the Laws of the Game. The most senior and prestigious international competitions are the men's
FIFA World Cup The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the ' (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The tournament has ...
and the FIFA Women's World Cup. The men's World Cup is the most-viewed sporting event in the world, surpassing the
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: link=no, Jeux olympiques) are the leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a var ...
. The top five European men's leagues are the
Premier League The Premier League (legal name: The Football Association Premier League Limited) is the highest level of the men's English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English F ...
(England),
La Liga The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, commonly known simply as Primera División in Spain, and as La Liga in English-speaking countries and officially as LaLiga Santander for sponsorship reasons, stylized as LaLiga, is the men' ...
(Spain),
Bundesliga The Bundesliga (; ), sometimes referred to as the Fußball-Bundesliga () or 1. Bundesliga (), is a professional association football league in Germany. At the top of the German football league system, the Bundesliga is Germany's primary footbal ...
(Germany),
Serie A The Serie A (), also called Serie A TIM for national sponsorship with TIM, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Scudetto and the Coppa C ...
(Italy), and
Ligue 1 Ligue 1, officially known as Ligue 1 Uber Eats for sponsorship reasons, is a French professional league for men's association football clubs. At the top of the French football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. ...
(France). Attracting most of the world's best players, each of the leagues has a total wage cost in excess of £600 million/€763 million/US$1.185 billion. The final of the men's tournament has been, in recent years, the most-watched annual sporting event in the world.
Women's association football Women's association football, more commonly known simply as women's football or women's soccer, is a team sport of association football when played by women only. It is played at the professional level in multiple countries and 176 national te ...
has historically seen opposition from national associations severely curbing its development, several outlawing it completely. Restrictions started to be reduced in the 1980s and the first women's World Cup was the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup in China with only 12 teams from the respective 6 confederations. By the
2019 FIFA Women's World Cup The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup was the eighth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup, the quadrennial international Women's association football championship contested by 24 List of women's national association football teams, women's national ...
in France, this had increased to 24 national teams and a record-breaking 1.12 billion viewers watched the competition. The two most prestigious competitions in European club football are the UEFA Champions League and
UEFA Women's Champions League The UEFA Women's Champions League, previously called the UEFA Women's Cup (2001–2009), is a European women's association football competition. It involves the top club teams from countries affiliated with the European governing body UEFA. The ...
, which attract an extensive television audience throughout the world.


Name

Football is one of a family of football codes, which emerged from various
ball game This is a list of ball games and ball sports that include a ball as a key element in the activity, usually for scoring points. Ball games Ball sports fall within many sport categories, some sports within multiple categories, including: * Bat- ...
s played worldwide since antiquity. Within the English-speaking world, association football is now usually called "football" in Great Britain and most of
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label= Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces. It is made up of nine counties: six of these constitute Northern Ireland (a part of the United Ki ...
in the north of Ireland, whereas people usually call it "soccer" in regions and countries where other codes of football are prevalent, such as Australia,
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world's second-largest country by total ...
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring count ...
, most of
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, in north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the seco ...
(excluding Ulster) and the United States. A notable exception is New Zealand, where in the first two decades of the 21st century, under the influence of international television, "football" has been gaining prevalence, despite the dominance of other codes of football, namely
rugby union Rugby union, commonly known simply as rugby, is a close-contact team sport that originated at Rugby School in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its ...
and
rugby league Rugby league football, commonly known as just rugby league and sometimes football, footy, rugby or league, is a full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular field measuring 68 metres (75 yards) wide and 11 ...
. In Japan, the game is also primarily called sakkā (サッカー), derived from "soccer". The term ''soccer'' comes from
Oxford "-er" The Oxford "-er", or often "-ers", is a colloquial and sometimes facetious suffix prevalent at Oxford University from about 1875, which is thought to have been borrowed from the slang of Rugby School. The term was defined by the lexicographer E ...
slang, which was prevalent at the
University of Oxford , mottoeng = The Lord is my light , established = , endowment = £6.1 billion (including colleges) (2019) , budget = £2.145 billion (2019–20) , chancellor ...
in England from about 1875, and is thought to have been borrowed from the slang of
Rugby School Rugby School is a public school (English independent boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Founded in 1567 as a free grammar school for local boys, it is one of the oldest independent schools in Britain ...
. Initially spelled ''assoccer'', it was later reduced to the modern spelling. This form of slang also gave rise to ''rugger'' for rugby football, ''fiver'' and ''tenner'' for five pound and ten pound notes, and the now-archaic ''footer'' that was also a name for association football. The word ''soccer'' arrived at its final form in 1895 and was first recorded in 1889 in the earlier form of ''socca.''


History

Kicking ball games arose independently multiple times across multiple cultures. ' and ' were Greek ball games. An image of an ' player depicted in low
relief Relief is a sculptural method in which the sculpted pieces are bonded to a solid background of the same material. The term '' relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression that th ...
on a
stele A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in English. or occasionally stela (plural ''stelas'' or ''stelæ''), wh ...
of in the
National Archaeological Museum of Athens The National Archaeological Museum ( el, Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο) in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It i ...
appears on the
UEFA European Championship The UEFA European Football Championship, less formally the European Championship and informally the Euro, is the primary association football tournament organised by the Union of European Football Associations ( UEFA). The competition is conte ...
trophy.
Athenaeus Athenaeus of Naucratis (; grc, Ἀθήναιος ὁ Nαυκρατίτης or Nαυκράτιος, ''Athēnaios Naukratitēs'' or ''Naukratios''; la, Athenaeus Naucratita) was a Greek rhetorician and grammarian, flourishing about the end of th ...
, writing in 228 CE, mentions the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *'' Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a lette ...
ball game '. ' and ' were played involving hands and violence. They all appear to have resembled
rugby football Rugby football is the collective name for the team sports of rugby union and rugby league. Canadian football and, to a lesser extent, American football were once considered forms of rugby football, but are seldom now referred to as such. T ...
, wrestling and
volleyball Volleyball is a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules. It has been a part of the official program of the Sum ...
more than what is recognizable as modern football. As with pre-codified
mob football Mob football is a modern term used for a wide variety of the localised informal football games which were invented and played in England during the Middle Ages. Alternative names include folk football, medieval football and Shrovetide football ...
, the antecedent of all modern football codes, these three games involved more handling the ball than kicking. The Chinese competitive game ' (, literally "kick ball") resembles modern association football. ' players could use any part of the body apart from hands and the intent was kicking a ball through an opening into a net. During the
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) and a war ...
(206 BCE – 220 CE), ' games were standardised and rules were established. ' and ' were Greek ball games. An image of an ' player depicted in low
relief Relief is a sculptural method in which the sculpted pieces are bonded to a solid background of the same material. The term '' relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression that th ...
on a
stele A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in English. or occasionally stela (plural ''stelas'' or ''stelæ''), wh ...
of in the
National Archaeological Museum of Athens The National Archaeological Museum ( el, Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο) in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It i ...
appears on the
UEFA European Championship The UEFA European Football Championship, less formally the European Championship and informally the Euro, is the primary association football tournament organised by the Union of European Football Associations ( UEFA). The competition is conte ...
trophy.
Athenaeus Athenaeus of Naucratis (; grc, Ἀθήναιος ὁ Nαυκρατίτης or Nαυκράτιος, ''Athēnaios Naukratitēs'' or ''Naukratios''; la, Athenaeus Naucratita) was a Greek rhetorician and grammarian, flourishing about the end of th ...
, writing in 228 CE, mentions the
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *'' Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a lette ...
ball game '. ' and ' were played involving hands and violence. They all appear to have resembled
rugby football Rugby football is the collective name for the team sports of rugby union and rugby league. Canadian football and, to a lesser extent, American football were once considered forms of rugby football, but are seldom now referred to as such. T ...
, wrestling and
volleyball Volleyball is a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules. It has been a part of the official program of the Sum ...
more than what is recognizable as modern football.Nigel Wilson, ''Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece'', Routledge, 2005, p. 310Nigel M. Kennell, ''The Gymnasium of Virtue: Education and Culture in Ancient Sparta (Studies in the History of Greece and Rome)'', The University of North Carolina Press, 1995, o
Google Books
Steve Craig, ''Sports and Games of the Ancients: (Sports and Games Through History)'', Greenwood, 2002, o
Google Books
Don Nardo, ''Greek and Roman Sport'', Greenhaven Press, 1999, p. 83Sally E. D. Wilkins, ''Sports and games of medieval cultures'', Greenwood, 2002, o
Google books
As with pre-codified
mob football Mob football is a modern term used for a wide variety of the localised informal football games which were invented and played in England during the Middle Ages. Alternative names include folk football, medieval football and Shrovetide football ...
, the antecedent of all modern football codes, these three games involved more handling the ball than kicking. Other games included ' in Japan and ' in Korea. In North America, was a ball game played by the
Algonquians The Algonquian are one of the most populous and widespread North American native language groups. Historically, the peoples were prominent along the Atlantic Coast and into the interior along the Saint Lawrence River and around the Great Lakes. ...
; it was described as "almost identical to the kind of folk football being played in Europe at the same time, in which the ball was kicked through goals". Association football in itself does not have a classical history. Notwithstanding any similarities to other ball games played around the world, FIFA has recognised that no historical connection exists with any game played in antiquity outside Europe. The modern rules of association football are based on the mid-19th century efforts to standardise the widely varying forms of football played in 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 the
University of Cambridge , mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts. Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge. , established = , other_name = The Chancellor, Masters and Schola ...
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 is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII, Trinity is one of the largest Cambridge colleges, with the largest financial endowment of any college at either Cambridge or Oxford. ...
, at a meeting attended by representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby,
Winchester Winchester is a cathedral city in Hampshire, England. The city lies at the heart of the wider City of Winchester, a local government district, at the western end of the South Downs National Park, on the River Itchen. It is south-west of Lo ...
and
Shrewsbury Shrewsbury ( , also ) is a market town, civil parish, and the county town of Shropshire, England, on the River Severn, north-west of London; at the 2021 census, it had a population of 76,782. The town's name can be pronounced as either ...
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, formed by former public school pupils in 1857, which led to the formation of a Sheffield FA in 1867. In 1862, John Charles Thring of Uppingham School also devised an influential set of rules. These ongoing efforts contributed to the formation of
The Football Association The Football Association (also known as The FA) is the governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world an ...
(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 is a street in the West End of central London in England. 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, we ...
, London. The only school to be represented on this occasion was Charterhouse. The Freemasons' 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 F.C., 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 clubs followed this lead and did not join the FA, and instead in 1871 formed the
Rugby Football Union The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the national governing body for rugby union in England. It was founded in 1871, and was the sport's international governing body prior to the formation of what is now known as World Rugby (WR) in 1886. It pro ...
. The eleven remaining clubs, under the charge of Ebenezer Cobb Morley, 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 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 world's oldest football competition is the
FA Cup The Football Association Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the FA Cup, is an annual knockout football competition in men's domestic English football. First played during the 1871–72 season, it is the oldest national football competit ...
, which was founded by the footballer and cricketer Charles W. Alcock, and has been contested by English teams since 1872. The first official international football match also took place in 1872, between Scotland and England in
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesca or ; gd, Glaschu ) is the most populous city in Scotland and the fourth-most populous city in the United Kingdom, as well as being the 27th largest city by population in Europe. In 2020, it had an estimated po ...
, again at the instigation of Alcock. England is also home to the world's first
football league The English Football League (EFL) is a league of professional association football, football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in Association football around the wor ...
, which was founded in
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a city and metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of West Midlands in England. It is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom with a population of 1.145 million in the city proper, 2.92 million in the West ...
in 1888 by
Aston Villa Aston Villa Football Club is a professional football club based in Aston, Birmingham, England. The club competes in the , the top tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their home ground, Villa Par ...
director William McGregor. The original format contained 12 clubs from the
Midlands The Midlands (also referred to as Central England) are a part of England that broadly correspond to the Kingdom of Mercia of the Early Middle Ages, bordered by Wales, Northern England and Southern England. The Midlands were important in the In ...
and
Northern England Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North Country, or simply the North, is the northern area of England. It broadly corresponds to the former borders of Angle Northumbria, the Anglo-Scandinavian Kingdom of Jorvik, and the ...
. The Laws of the Game are determined by the
International Football Association Board The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football. IFAB was founded in 1886 to agree standardised Laws for international competition, and has since acted as the "guardia ...
(IFAB). The board was formed in 1886 after a meeting in
Manchester Manchester () is a city in Greater Manchester, England. It had a population of 552,000 in 2021. It is bordered by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and the neighbouring city of City of Salford, Salford to ...
of the Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, the
Football Association of Wales The Football Association of Wales (FAW; cy, Cymdeithas Bêl-droed Cymru) is the governing body of association football and futsal in Wales, and controls the Welsh national football team, its corresponding women's team, as well as the Wels ...
, and the
Irish Football Association The Irish Football Association (IFA) is the governing body for association football in Northern Ireland. It organised the Ireland national football team from 1880 to 1950, which after 1954, became the Northern Ireland national football team. ...
.
FIFA FIFA (; stands for ''Fédération Internationale de Football Association'' (French), meaning International Association Football Federation ) is the international governing body of association football, beach football and futsal. It was founde ...
, the international football body, was formed in Paris in 1904 and declared that they would adhere to the Laws of the Game of the Football Association. The growing popularity of the international game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to the IFAB in 1913. The board consists of four representatives from FIFA and one representative from each of the four British associations. Football is played at a professional 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. Ryszard Kapuściński says that Europeans who are polite, modest, or humble fall easily into rage when playing or watching football games. The Ivory Coast national football team helped secure a truce to the nation's
civil war A civil war or intrastate war is a war between organized groups within the same state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change government poli ...
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 (or Bwake, N’ko: ߓߐ߰ߞߍ߫ ''Bɔ̀ɔkɛ́'') is the second-largest city in Ivory Coast, with a population of 740,000 (2021 census). It is the seat of three levels of subdivision—Vallée du Bandama District, Gbêkê Region, and B ...
, an occasion that brought both armies together peacefully for the first time. By contrast, football is widely considered to have been the final proximate cause for the Football War in June 1969 between El Salvador and Honduras. The sport also exacerbated tensions at the beginning of the
Croatian War of Independence The Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 between Croat forces loyal to the Government of Croatia—which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)—and the Serb-controlled Yugos ...
of the 1990s, when a match between Dinamo Zagreb and
Red Star Belgrade Fudbalski klub Crvena zvezda ( sr-Cyrl, Фудбалски клуб Црвена звезда, lit=Red Star Football Club, ), commonly known as Red Star Belgrade in English-language media, is a Serbian professional football club based in ...
degenerated into
rioting A riot is a form of civil disorder commonly characterized by a group lashing out in a violent public disturbance against authority, property, or people. Riots typically involve destruction of property, public or private. The property targete ...
in May 1990.


Women's association football


Early women's football

Women may have been playing "football" for as long as the game has existed. Evidence shows that an ancient version of the game ( Tsu Chu) was played by women during the
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (221–207 BC) and a war ...
(25–220 CE). Two female figures are depicted in Han dynasty (25–220 CE) frescoes, playing Tsu Chu. There are, however, a number of opinions about the accuracy of dates, the earliest estimates at 5000 BCE. Association football, the modern game, also has documented early involvement of women. An annual competition in Mid-Lothian, Scotland during the 1790s is reported, too. In 1863, football governing bodies introduced standardised rules to prohibit violence on the pitch, making it more socially acceptable for women to play. The first match recorded by the Scottish Football Association took place in 1892 in
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesca or ; gd, Glaschu ) is the most populous city in Scotland and the fourth-most populous city in the United Kingdom, as well as being the 27th largest city by population in Europe. In 2020, it had an estimated po ...
. In England, the first recorded game of football between women took place in 1895. The best-documented early European team was founded by activist Nettie Honeyball in England in 1894. It was named the British Ladies' Football Club. Nettie Honeyball is quoted as, "I founded the association late last year
894 __NOTOC__ Year 894 ( DCCCXCIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. Events By place Byzantine Empire * Byzantine–Bulgarian War: Stylianos Zaoutzes, leading minister and ...
with the fixed resolve of proving to the world that women are not the 'ornamental and useless' creatures men have pictured. I must confess, my convictions on all matters where the sexes are so widely divided are all on the side of
emancipation Emancipation generally means to free a person from a previous restraint or legal disability. More broadly, it is also used for efforts to procure economic and social rights, political rights or equality, often for a specifically disenfranc ...
, and I look forward to the time when ladies may sit in
Parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries. ...
and have a voice in the direction of affairs, especially those which concern them most." Honeyball and those like her paved the way for women's football. However, the women's game was frowned upon by the British football associations and continued without their support. It has been suggested that this was motivated by a perceived threat to the 'masculinity' of the game. Women's football became popular on a large scale at the time of the
First World War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, the United States, and the Ottoman Empire, with figh ...
, when employment in heavy industry spurred the growth of the game, much as it had done for men 50 years earlier. The most successful team of the era was Dick, Kerr Ladies F.C. of Preston, England. The team played in the first women's international matches in 1920, against a team from
Paris Paris () is the capital and most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), making it the 30th most densely populated city in the world in 2020. Si ...
, France, in April, and also made up most of the England team against a Scottish Ladies XI in 1920, and winning 22–0. Despite being more popular than some men's football events (one match saw a 53,000 strong crowd), women's football in England suffered a blow in 1921 when
The Football Association The Football Association (also known as The FA) is the governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world an ...
outlawed the playing of the game on Association members' pitches, on the grounds that the game (as played by women) was distasteful. Some speculated that this may have also been due to envy of the large crowds that women's matches attracted. This led to the formation of the English Ladies Football Association and play moved to rugby grounds. Association football has been played by women since at least the time of the first recorded women's games in the late 19th century. It has traditionally been associated with charity games and physical exercise, particularly in the United Kingdom. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, women's association football was organised in the United Kingdom, eventually becoming the most prominent
team sport A team sport includes any sport where individuals are organized into opposing teams which compete to win or cooperate to entertain their audience. Team members act together towards a shared objective. This can be done in a number of ways s ...
for British women.


20th and 21st century

The growth in women's football has seen major competitions being launched at both
national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation or country ** Nationality – a ''national'' is a person who is subject to a nation, regardless of whether the person has full rights as a citizen Places in the United States * National, Maryland, c ...
and
international International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International may also refer to: Music Albums * ''International'' (Kevin Michael album), 2011 * ''International'' (New Order album), 2002 * ''International'' (The T ...
level mirroring the male competitions. Women's football has faced many struggles. 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 was inaugurated in 1991 and has been held every four years since, while women's football has been an Olympic event since 1996.


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 circumference, known as the ''
football Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word ''football'' normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports commonl ...
'' (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 Captain is a title, an appellative for the commanding officer of a military unit; the supreme leader of a navy ship, merchant ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel; or the commander of a port, fire or police department, election precinct, e ...
who has only one official responsibility as mandated by the Laws of the Game: to represent their team in the coin toss before kick-off or penalty kicks. The primary law is that players other than
goalkeepers Goalkeeper is a playing position in many team sports which involve scoring goals. Goalkeeper or goalkeepers may also refer to: Specific sports * Goalkeeper (association football) ** Goalkeeper glove ** Goalkeepers coach * Goalkeeper (bandy) * ...
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 players may not pass to teammates who are in an offside position. During gameplay, players attempt to create goal-scoring opportunities through individual control of the ball, such as by
dribbling In sports, dribbling is maneuvering a ball by one player while moving in a given direction, avoiding defenders' attempts to intercept the ball. A successful dribble will bring the ball past defenders legally and create opportunities to score. A ...
, 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 Tackle may refer to: * In football: ** Tackle (football move), a play in various forms of football ** Tackle (gridiron football position), a position in American football and Canadian football ** Dump tackle, a forceful move in rugby of picking ...
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 A referee is an official, in a variety of sports and competition, responsible for enforcing the rules of the sport, including sportsmanship decisions such as ejection. The official tasked with this job may be known by a variety of other tit ...
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 The Premier League (legal name: The Football Association Premier League Limited) is the highest level of the men's English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English F ...
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 Defender(s) or The Defender(s) may refer to: *Defense (military) * Defense (sports) **Defender (association football) Arts and entertainment Film and television * ''The Defender'' (1989 film), a Canadian documentary * ''The Defender'' (1994 ...
, who specialise in preventing their opponents from scoring; and
midfielder A midfielder is an outfield position in association football. Midfielders may play an exclusively defensive role, breaking up attacks, and are in that case known as defensive midfielders. As central midfielders often go across boundarie ...
s, 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 the 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 may refer to: Linguistics * Back-formation, the process of creating a new lexeme by removing or affixes * Word formation, the creation of a new word by adding affixes Mathematics and science * Cave formation or speleothem, a secondar ...
''. Defining the team's formation and tactics is usually the prerogative of the team's
manager Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a nonprofit organization, or a government body. It is the art and science of managing resources of the business. Management includes the activities ...
.


Laws

There are 17 laws in the official Laws of the Game, each containing a collection of stipulation and guidelines. 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 IFAB. In addition to the seventeen laws, numerous IFAB decisions and other directives contribute to the regulation of association football. Within the United States,
Major League Soccer Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men's professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport's highest level in the United States. The league comprises 29 teams—26 in the U.S. and 3 in Cana ...
used a distinct ruleset during the 1990s and the
National Federation of State High School Associations The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is the body that writes the rules of competition for most high school sports and activities in the United States. NFHS's headquarters are located in White River State Park in In ...
and
National Collegiate Athletic Association The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It also organizes the athletic programs of colleges a ...
still use rulesets that are comparable to, but different from, the IFAB Laws.


Players, equipment, and officials

Each team consists of a maximum of eleven players (excluding substitutes), one of whom must be the
goalkeeper In many team sports which involve scoring goals, the goalkeeper (sometimes termed goaltender, netminder, GK, goalie or keeper) is a designated player charged with directly preventing the opposing team from scoring by blocking or intercepting ...
. 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 The penalty area or 18-yard box (also known less formally as the penalty box or simply box) is an area of an association football pitch. It is rectangular and extends 16.5m (18 yd) to each side of the goal and 16.5m (18 yd) in front of it. Wit ...
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 A shin guard or shin pad, is a piece of equipment worn on the front of an athlete's shin to protect it from injury. These are commonly used in sports including association football, baseball, ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, cricket and m ...
s. An athletic supporter and protective cup is highly recommended for male players by medical experts and professionals.
Headgear Headgear, headwear, or headdress is the name given to any element of clothing which is worn on one's head, including hats, helmets, turbans and many other types. Headgear is worn for many purposes, including protection against the elements, ...
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 in ninety minutes with each team being allowed one more if the game should go into extra-time, 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 A referee is an official, in a variety of sports and competition, responsible for enforcing the rules of the sport, including sportsmanship decisions such as ejection. The official tasked with this job may be known by a variety of other tit ...
, 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. Goal line technology is used to measure if the whole ball has crossed the goal-line thereby determining whether a goal has been scored or not; this was brought in to prevent controversy.
Video assistant referee The video assistant referee (VAR) is a match official in association football who reviews decisions made by the referee. The assistant video assistant referee (AVAR) is a current or former referee appointed to assist the VAR in the video ope ...
s (VAR) have also been increasingly introduced in high-level matches to assist officials through video replays to correct clear and obvious mistakes. There are four types of calls that can be reviewed: mistaken identity in awarding a red or yellow card, goals and whether there was a violation during the buildup, direct red card decisions, and penalty decisions.


Ball

The ball is spherical with a circumference of between , a weight in the range of , and a pressure between at sea level. In the past the ball was made up of leather panels sewn together, with a latex bladder for pressurisation but modern balls at all levels of the game are now synthetic.


Pitch

As the Laws were formulated in England, and were initially administered solely by the four British football associations within
IFAB The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football. IFAB was founded in 1886 to agree standardised Laws for international competition, and has since acted as the "guardia ...
, the standard dimensions of a football pitch were originally expressed in
imperial units The imperial system of units, imperial system or imperial units (also known as British Imperial or Exchequer Standards of 1826) is the system of units first defined in the British Weights and Measures Act 1824 and continued to be developed thro ...
. The Laws now express dimensions with approximate
metric Metric or metrical may refer to: * Metric system, an internationally adopted decimal system of measurement * An adjective indicating relation to measurement in general, or a noun describing a specific type of measurement Mathematics In mathem ...
equivalents (followed by traditional units in brackets), though use of imperial units remains popular in English-speaking countries with a relatively recent history of
metrication Metrication or metrification is the act or process of converting to the metric system of measurement. All over the world, countries have transitioned from local and traditional units of measurement to the metric system. This process began in Fr ...
(or only partial metrication), such as Britain. The length of the pitch, or field, for international adult matches is in the range of and the width is in the range of . Fields for non-international matches may be length and in width, provided that the pitch does not become square. In 2008, the IFAB initially approved a fixed size of long and wide as a standard pitch dimension for international matches; however, 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 on each goal line, midway between the two touchlines. The inner edges of the vertical goal posts must be apart, and the lower edge of the horizontal crossbar supported by the goal posts must be above the ground. Nets are usually placed behind the goal, but are not required by the Laws. In front of the goal is the penalty area. This area is marked by the goal line, two lines starting on the goal line from the goalposts and extending 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


90-minute ordinary time

A standard adult football match consists of two halves of 45 minutes each. 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 called ''additional time'' in FIFA documents, but is most commonly referred to as ''stoppage time'' or ''injury time'', while ''lost time'' can also be used as a synonym. The duration of stoppage time is at the sole discretion of the referee. Stoppage time does not fully compensate for the time in which the ball is out of play, and a 90-minute game typically involves about an hour of "effective playing time". The referee alone signals the end of the match. In matches where a fourth official is appointed, towards the end of the half, the referee signals how many minutes of stoppage time they intend 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 and
Aston Villa Aston Villa Football Club is a professional football club based in Aston, Birmingham, England. The club competes in the , the top tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their home ground, Villa Par ...
. Trailing 1–0 with two minutes remaining, Stoke were awarded a penalty kick. Villa's goalkeeper deliberately kicked the ball out of play; by the time it was recovered, the clock had run out and the game was over, leaving Stoke unable to attempt the penalty. The same law also states that the duration of either half is extended until the penalty kick to be taken or retaken is completed; thus, no game can end with an un-completed penalty.


Tie-breaking

In league competitions, games may end in a draw. In knockout competitions where a winner is required various methods may be employed to break such a deadlock; some competitions may invoke replays. A game tied at the end of regulation time 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 (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 towards 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 matches, 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 The away goals rule is a method of tiebreaking in association football and other sports when teams play each other twice, once at each team's home ground. Under the away goals rule, if the total goals scored by each team are equal, the team that ...
may be used to determine the winners, in which case the winner is the team that scored the most goals in the leg they played away from home. If the result is still equal, extra time and potentially a penalty shootout are required.


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: when the ball has crossed the touchline; awarded to the opposing team to that which last touched the ball. * Goal kick: 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: 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: awarded to the opposing team following "non-penal" fouls, certain technical infringements, or when play is stopped to caution or dismiss 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: 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 A dropped-ball (or drop-ball) is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. It is used when play has been stopped due to reasons other than normal gameplay, fouls, or misconduct. The situations requiring a dropped-ball resta ...
: 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.


Misconduct


On-field

A foul 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 or penalty kick depending on where the offence occurred. Other fouls are punishable by an indirect free kick. The referee may punish a player's or substitute's
misconduct Misconduct is wrongful, improper, or unlawful conduct motivated by premeditated or intentional purpose or by obstinate indifference to the consequences of one's acts. It is an act which is forbidden or a failure to do that which is required. Misc ...
by a caution ( yellow card) or dismissal ( red card). A second yellow card in the same game leads to a red card, which results in a dismissal. A player given a yellow card is said to have been "booked", the referee writing the player's name in their official notebook. If a player has been dismissed, no substitute can be brought on in their place and the player may not participate in further play. 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. The referee's decision in all on-pitch matters is considered final. The score of a match cannot be altered after the game, even if later evidence shows that decisions (including awards/non-awards of goals) were incorrect.


Off-field

Along with the general administration of the sport, football associations and competition organisers also enforce good conduct in wider aspects of the game, dealing with issues such as comments to the press, clubs' financial management, doping, age fraud and
match fixing In organized sports, match fixing is the act of playing or officiating a match with the intention of achieving a pre-determined result, violating the rules of the game and often the law. There are many reasons why match fixing might take place, ...
. Most competitions enforce mandatory suspensions for players who are sent off in a game.For example, see
The Football Association The Football Association (also known as The FA) is the governing body of association football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world an ...
's rules regarding player suspensions in FA competitions:
Some on-field incidents, if considered very serious (such as allegations of racial abuse), may result in competitions deciding to impose heavier sanctions than those normally associated with a red card. Some associations allow for appeals against player suspensions incurred on-field if clubs feel a referee was incorrect or unduly harsh. Sanctions for such infractions may be levied on individuals or on to clubs as a whole. Penalties may include fines, points deductions (in league competitions) or even expulsion from competitions. For example, the
English Football League The English Football League (EFL) is a league of professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in the world. It was the top-level football league in Engl ...
deduct 12 points from any team that enters financial administration. Among other administrative sanctions are penalties against game forfeiture. Teams that had forfeited a game or had been forfeited against would be awarded a technical loss or win.


Governing bodies

The recognised international governing body of football (and associated games, such as
futsal Futsal is a football-based game played on a hard court smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors. It has similarities to five-a-side football and indoor football. Futsal is played between two teams of five players each, one of whom is t ...
and
beach soccer Beach soccer, also known as beach football, sand football or beasal, is a variant of association football played on a beach or some form of sand. Whilst football has been played informally on beaches, the introduction of ''beach soccer'' was an a ...
) is
FIFA FIFA (; stands for ''Fédération Internationale de Football Association'' (French), meaning International Association Football Federation ) is the international governing body of association football, beach football and futsal. It was founde ...
. The FIFA headquarters are located in
Zürich , neighboring_municipalities = Adliswil, Dübendorf, Fällanden, Kilchberg, Maur, Oberengstringen, Opfikon, Regensdorf, Rümlang, Schlieren, Stallikon, Uitikon, Urdorf, Wallisellen, Zollikon , twintowns = Kunming, San Francisco ...
, Switzerland. Six regional confederations are associated with FIFA; these are: * Asia:
Asian Football Confederation The Asian Football Confederation is the governing body of association football, beach soccer, and futsal in some countries/territories in Asia and Oceania. It has 47 member countries most of which are located in Asia. Australia, formerly i ...
(AFC) * Africa:
Confederation of African Football The Confederation of African Football, or CAF for short (french: link=yes, Confédération Africaine de Football, ar, link=yes, الاتحاد الأفريقي لكرة القدم, al-Ittiḥād al-Afrīqī li-Kurat al-Qadam), is the administ ...
(CAF) * Europe: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) * North/Central America & Caribbean: Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) * Oceania:
Oceania Football Confederation The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is one of the six continental confederations of international association football. The OFC has 13 members, 11 of which are full members and two which are associate members not affiliated with FIFA. I ...
(OFC) * South America: Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (South American Football Confederation; CONMEBOL) National associations oversee football within individual countries. These are generally synonymous with sovereign states, (for example: the Cameroonian Football Federation in Cameroon) but also include a smaller number of associations responsible for sub-national entities or autonomous regions (for example the Scottish Football Association in Scotland). 209 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 IFAB, where each of the UK Associations has one vote, while FIFA collectively has four votes.


International competitions

International competitions in association football principally consist of two varieties: competitions involving representative national teams or those involving clubs based in multiple nations and national leagues. ''International football'', without qualification, most often refers to the former. In the case of international club competition, it is the country of origin of the clubs involved, not the nationalities of their players, that renders the competition international in nature. The major international competition in football is the World Cup, organised by FIFA. This competition takes place every four years since
1930 Events January * January 15 – The Moon moves into its nearest point to Earth, called perigee, at the same time as its fullest phase of the Lunar Cycle. This is the closest moon distance at in recent history, and the next one will be ...
with the exception of 1942 and 1946 tournaments, which were cancelled due to World War II. Approximately 190–200 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 World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: link=no, Jeux olympiques) are the leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a var ...
; the cumulative audience of all matches of the
2006 FIFA World Cup The 2006 FIFA World Cup, also branded as Germany 2006, was the 18th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 9 June to 9 July 2006 in Germany, which had won the right to host the ...
was estimated to be 26.29 billion with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the final match, a ninth of the entire population of the planet. The current champions are France, who won their second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia. The FIFA Women's World Cup has been held every four years since
1991 File:1991 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: Boris Yeltsin, elected as Russia's first president, waves the new flag of Russia after the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, orchestrated by Soviet hardliners; Mount Pinatubo erupts in the Phil ...
. Under the tournament's current format, national teams vie for 31 slots in a three-year qualification phase. (The host nation's team is automatically entered as the 32nd slot.) The current champions are the United States, after winning their fourth title in the 2019 tournament. There has been a football tournament at every
Summer Olympic Games The Summer Olympic Games (french: link=no, Jeux olympiques d'été), also known as the Games of the Olympiad, and often referred to as the Summer Olympics, is a major international multi-sport event normally held once every four years. The ina ...
since
1900 As of March 1 ( O.S. February 17), when the Julian calendar acknowledged a leap day and the Gregorian calendar did not, the Julian calendar fell one day further behind, bringing the difference to 13 days until February 28 ( O.S. February 15 ...
, except at the 1932 games in Los Angeles. Before the inception of the World Cup, the Olympics (especially during the 1920s) were the most prestigious international event. Originally, the tournament was for amateurs only. As professionalism spread around the world, the gap in quality between the World Cup and the Olympics widened. The countries that benefited most were the
Soviet Bloc The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America under the influence of the Soviet Union that existed d ...
countries of
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is a subregion of the European continent. As a largely ambiguous term, it has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic connotations. The vast majority of the region is covered by Russia, whi ...
, where top athletes were state-sponsored while retaining their status as amateurs. Between
1948 Events January * January 1 ** The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is inaugurated. ** The Constitution of New Jersey (later subject to amendment) goes into effect. ** The railways of Britain are nationalized, to form Brit ...
and
1980 Events January * January 4 – U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaims a grain embargo against the USSR with the support of the European Commission. * January 6 – Global Positioning System time epoch begins at 00:00 UTC. * January 9 ...
, 23 out of 27 Olympic medals were won by Eastern Europe, with only Sweden (gold in 1948 and bronze in 1952),
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of Denmark , established ...
(bronze in 1948 and silver in 1960) and Japan (bronze in 1968) breaking their dominance. For the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the
IOC The International Olympic Committee (IOC; french: link=no, Comité international olympique, ''CIO'') is a non-governmental sports organisation based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is constituted in the form of an association under the Swiss ...
decided to admit professional players. Since
1992 File:1992 Events Collage V1.png, From left, clockwise: Riots break out across Los Angeles, California after the police beating of Rodney King; El Al Flight 1862 crashes into a residential apartment building in Amsterdam after two of its engin ...
, male competitors must be under 23 years old, although since
1996 File:1996 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: A bomb explodes at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, set off by a radical anti-abortionist; The center fuel tank explodes on TWA Flight 800, causing the plane to crash and killing everyone o ...
, three players over the age of 23 have been allowed per squad. 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), the
Copa América The Copa América ( en, America Cup) or CONMEBOL Copa América, known until 1975 as the South American Football Championship (''Campeonato Sudamericano de Fútbol'' in Spanish and ''Campeonato Sul-Americano de Futebol'' in Portuguese), is the t ...
(CONMEBOL),
African Cup of Nations The Africa Cup of Nations referred to as AFCON (french: Coupe d'Afrique des Nations, sometimes referred to as CAN, or TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations for sponsorship reasons), and sometimes as African Cup of Nations, is the main internati ...
(CAF), the
Asian Cup The AFC Asian Cup is the primary association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), determining the continental champion of Asia. It is the second oldest cont ...
(AFC), the
CONCACAF Gold Cup The CONCACAF Gold Cup ( es, Copa de Oro de la CONCACAF, french: Coupe D'or CONCACAF) is the main association football competition of the men's national football teams governed by CONCACAF, determining the continental champion of North Ameri ...
(CONCACAF) and the
OFC Nations Cup The OFC Nations Cup is an international association football tournament held among the OFC 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 ...
(OFC). The
FIFA Confederations Cup The FIFA Confederations Cup was an international association football tournament for men's national teams, held every four years by FIFA. It was contested by the holders of each of the six continental championships ( AFC, CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEB ...
was contested by the winners of all six continental championships, the current
FIFA World Cup The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the ' (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The tournament has ...
champions and the country which was hosting the next World Cup. This was generally regarded as a warm-up tournament for the upcoming FIFA World Cup and did not carry the same prestige as the World Cup itself. The tournament was discontinued following the
2017 File:2017 Events Collage V2.png, From top left, clockwise: The War Against ISIS at the Battle of Mosul (2016-2017); aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing; The Solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 ("Great American Eclipse"); North Korea tests a ...
edition. UEFA Nations League and
CONCACAF Nations League The CONCACAF Nations League ( es, Liga de Naciones CONCACAF, french: Ligue des Nations de la CONCACAF) is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the member associations of CONCACAF, the ...
also exist. 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 in Europe and the
Copa Libertadores The CONMEBOL Libertadores, also known as the Copa Libertadores de América ( pt, Copa Libertadores da América), is an annual international club football competition organized by CONMEBOL since 1960. It is the highest level of competition in So ...
in South America. The winners of each continental competition contest the
FIFA Club World Cup The FIFA Club World Cup is an international men's association football competition organised by the ''Fédération Internationale de Football Association'' (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The competition was first contested in 200 ...
.


Domestic competitions

The governing bodies in each country operate league systems in a domestic season, normally comprising several
divisions Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics), the inverse of multiplication * Division algorithm, a method for computing the result of mathematical division Military *Division (military), a formation typically consisting ...
, in which the teams gain points throughout the season depending on results. Teams are placed into
tables Table may refer to: * Table (furniture), a piece of furniture with a flat surface and one or more legs * Table (landform), a flat area of land * Table (information), a data arrangement with rows and columns * Table (database), how the table dat ...
, 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 A round-robin tournament (or all-go-away-tournament) is a competition in which each contestant meets every other participant, usually in turn.''Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged'' (1971, G. & C. Me ...
. At the end of a season, the top team is declared the champion. The top few teams may be promoted to a higher division, and one or more of the teams finishing at the bottom are
relegated In sports leagues, promotion and relegation is a process where teams are transferred between multiple divisions based on their performance for the completed season. Leagues that use promotion and relegation systems are often called open leagues ...
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 American leagues, which divide football championships into two sections named Apertura and Clausura (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 A knockout (abbreviated to KO or K.O.) is a fight-ending, winning criterion in several full-contact combat sports, such as boxing, kickboxing, muay thai, mixed martial arts, karate, some forms of taekwondo and other sports involving striking, a ...
basis. Some countries' top divisions feature highly paid star players; in smaller countries, lower divisions, and most of women's clubs, players may be part-timers with a second job, or amateurs. The five top European leagues – the
Bundesliga The Bundesliga (; ), sometimes referred to as the Fußball-Bundesliga () or 1. Bundesliga (), is a professional association football league in Germany. At the top of the German football league system, the Bundesliga is Germany's primary footbal ...
(Germany),
Premier League The Premier League (legal name: The Football Association Premier League Limited) is the highest level of the men's English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English F ...
(England),
La Liga The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, commonly known simply as Primera División in Spain, and as La Liga in English-speaking countries and officially as LaLiga Santander for sponsorship reasons, stylized as LaLiga, is the men' ...
(Spain),
Serie A The Serie A (), also called Serie A TIM for national sponsorship with TIM, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Scudetto and the Coppa C ...
(Italy), and
Ligue 1 Ligue 1, officially known as Ligue 1 Uber Eats for sponsorship reasons, is a French professional league for men's association football clubs. At the top of the French football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. ...
(France) – attract most of the world's best players and each of the leagues has a total wage cost in excess of £600 million/€763 million/US$1.185 billion.


Notes


References


External links


Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
* {{Authority control   Ball games Football codes Team sports Laws of association football Sports originating in England Physical education
Football Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word ''football'' normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports commonl ...
Articles containing video clips Association football variants 19th century in England Games and sports introduced in the 19th century Turf sports English inventions