Football (soccer)
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Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a
team sport A team is a [group (disambiguation), group of individuals (human or non-human) working together to achieve their goal. As defined by Professor Leigh Thompson (academic), Leigh Thompson of the Kellogg School of Management, "[a] team is a group o ...
played with a sphere, spherical Ball (association football), ball between two teams of 11 football player, players. It is played by approximately 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 called a
pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octaves ...

pitch
with a
goal A goal is an idea In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Phil ...
at each end. The object of the game is to outscore the opposition by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal. The team with the higher number of goals wins the game. Football is played in accordance with a set of rules known as the Laws of the Game. The ball is in circumference and known as the ''
football Football is a family of team sport A team is a goalkeepers_within_the_
goalkeepers_within_the_penalty_area">goalkeeper_(association_football)">goalkeepers_within_the_penalty_area._Other_players_mainly_use_their_feet_to_strike_or_pass_the_ball,_but_may_also_use_any_other_part_of_their_body_except_the_hands_and_the_arms.__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_either_a_Tie_(draw).html" "title="penalty_area.html" ;"title="goalkeeper (association football)">goalkeepers within the penalty area">goalkeeper (association football)">goalkeepers within the penalty area. Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, but may also use any other part of their body except the hands and the arms. 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 either a Tie (draw)">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 e ...
is declared or the game goes into extra time or a Penalty shootout (association football), penalty shootout depending on the format of the competition. Each team is led by a Captain (association football), captain who has only one official responsibility as mandated by the Laws of the Game: to represent their team in the coin toss prior to kick-off or penalty kicks. Football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA; french: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which organises
World Cups The world is the Earth and all life on it, including civilization, human civilization. In a philosophical context, the "world" is the whole of the physical Universe, or an Ontology, ontological world (the "world" of an individual). In a theo ...
for both men and
women A woman is an adult female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ovum, ova (egg cells). Barring rare medical conditions, most female mammals, including female humans, have two X ...

women
every four years. The FIFA World Cup has taken place every four years since
1930 Events January * January 6 ** The first diesel engine automobile trip is completed (Indianapolis, Indiana, to New York City) by Clessie Cummins, founder of the company Cummins. ** An early literary character licensing agreement is signed by ...

1930
with the exception of 1942 and 1946 tournaments, which were cancelled due to
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
. 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. It is the most prestigious football tournament in the world as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding the
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a multi-sport event, ...
. The most prestigious competition in club football is the
UEFA Champions League The UEFA Champions League (abbreviated as UCL) is an annual club Association football, football competition organised by the UEFA, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by List of top-division football clubs in UEFA count ...
which attracts an extensive television audience throughout the world. The final of the tournament has been, in recent years, the most-watched annual sporting event in the world. The top five European leagues are the
Premier League The Premier League, often referred to outside the UK as the English Premier League, or sometimes the EPL, (legal name: The Football Association Premier League Limited) is the top level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 ...
(England),
La Liga The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, commonly known simply as Primera División (Spanish Premier League) in Spain, and as La Liga in English-speaking countries and officially as LaLiga Santander Group, Santander for sponsorship ...

La Liga
(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 football ...
(Germany),
Serie A Serie A (), also called Serie A TIM due to sponsor (commercial), sponsorship by TIM (brand), TIM, is a professional league competition for Association football, football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winn ...

Serie A
(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. Adm ...
(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. Football is one of a family of , which emerged from various
ball game Ball games (or ballgames), also ball sports, are any form of game or sport which feature a ball as part of play. These include games such as association football, football, cricket, baseball, basketball, and American football. Such games have diver ...
s played worldwide since antiquity. The modern game traces its origins to 1863 when the Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by
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, Bailiwick of Guernsey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football ass ...
.


Name

The rules of association football were codified in England by FA in 1863 and the name ''association football'' was coined to distinguish the game from the played at the time, specifically
rugby football Rugby football is a collective name for the family of team sport A team is a [group (disambiguation), group of individuals (human or non-human) working together to achieve their goal. As defined by Professor Leigh Thompson (academic), Leig ...
. 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 "rules of the game" were made in 1848, before the "split off in 1863". The term ''soccer'' comes from a slang or jocular abbreviation of the word "association", with the suffix "-er" appended to it. The word ''soccer'' (which arrived at its final form in 1895) was first recorded in 1889 in the earlier form of ''socca.'' Within the
English-speaking world Speakers of English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the Wor ...
, association football is now usually called "football" in the United Kingdom and mainly "soccer" in Canada and the United States. People in countries where other codes of football are prevalent (Australia, Ireland, Wales, South Africa and New Zealand) may use either term, although national associations in Australia and New Zealand now primarily use "football" for the formal name.


History

Kicking ball games arose independently multiple times across multiple cultures. According to
FIFA FIFA ( french: Fédération Internationale de Football Association; en, International Federation of Association Football, link=yes; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociación''; German language, German: ''Int ...
, the Chinese competitive game ''
cuju ''Cuju'' or ''Ts'u-chü'', is an ancient Chinese ball game, game which is "thought to have been the earliest form of football". It is a competitive game that involves kicking a ball through an opening into a net. The use of hands is not allowed. I ...
'' (蹴鞠, literally "kick ball") is the earliest form of football for which there is evidence. ''Cuju'' players could use any part of the body apart from hands and the intent was kicking a ball through an opening into a net. It was remarkably similar to modern football, though similarities to
rugby Rugby may refer to: Sports Rugby codes * Rugby football in various forms: ** Rugby league: 13 players per side *** Masters Rugby League *** Mod league *** Rugby league nines *** Rugby league sevens *** Touch (sport) *** Wheelchair rugby league ** ...
occurred. During the
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
(206 BCE – 220 CE), ''cuju'' games were standardised and rules were established. ''Phaininda'' and ''
episkyros ''Episkyros'' (, ; also , , 'commonball') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly d ...
'' were Greek ball games. An image of an ''episkyros'' player depicted in low relief on a vase at 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 Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
appears on the
UEFA European Championship The UEFA European Football Championship, commonly known as the UEFA European Championship and informally as the Euros, is the primary association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team ...
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, referenced the
Roman Roman or Romans usually 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 letter in ...

Roman
ball game ''
harpastum ''Harpastum'', also known as ''harpustum'', was a form of ball game played in the Roman Empire. The Romans also referred to it as the small ball game. The ball used was small (not as large as a '' follis'', ''paganica'', or football Football ...
''. ''Phaininda'', ''episkyros'' and ''harpastum'' were played involving hands and violence. They all appear to have resembled , wrestling and volleyball more than what is recognizable as modern football. As with pre-codified "mob football", the antecedent of all football, modern football codes, these three games involved more handling the ball than kicking. Other games included ''
kemari is an athletic game that was popular in Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg ...

kemari
'' in Japan and '' chuk-guk'' in Korea. In North America,
pasuckuakohowog Pasuckuakohowog is a Native Americans in the United States, Native American game similar to soccer, football. The term literally translates to "they gather to play ball with the foot" and was described by Roger Williams. There are records that sh ...
was a ball game played by the
Algonquians The Algonquian are one of the most populous and widespread North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcont ...
; 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 CE. The
Cambridge rules The Cambridge Rules were several formulations of the rules of football made at the University of Cambridge during the nineteenth century. One of these codes, dating from 1863, had a significant influence on the creation of the original Laws of t ...
, first drawn up at Cambridge University in 1848, were particularly influential in the development of subsequent codes, including association football. The Cambridge rules were written at
Trinity College, Cambridge Trinity College is a Colleges of the University of Cambridge, constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII. Trinity is one of the oldest and largest colleges in Cambridge, with the large ...
, at a meeting attended by representatives from ,
Harrow Harrow may refer to: Places * Harrow, Victoria, Australia * Harrow, Ontario, Canada * The Harrow, County Wexford, a village in Ireland * London Borough of Harrow, England, UK ** Harrow, London, a town ** Harrow (UK Parliament constituency) ** Harr ...
,
Rugby Rugby may refer to: Sports Rugby codes * Rugby football in various forms: ** Rugby league: 13 players per side *** Masters Rugby League *** Mod league *** Rugby league nines *** Rugby league sevens *** Touch (sport) *** Wheelchair rugby league ** ...
,
Winchester Winchester is a cathedral city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Rou ...

Winchester
and
Shrewsbury Shrewsbury ( , ) is a large market town and the county town of Shropshire, England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland t ...
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 formation of a
Sheffield FA The Sheffield and Hallamshire Football Association is a County Football Association in England. It was formed in Sheffield in 1867 as the Sheffield Football Association and is the second oldest football governing body behind The Football Associa ...
in 1867. In 1862,
John Charles Thring John Charles Thring (11 June 1824 – 3 October 1909), known during his life as "Charles Thring" or "J. C. Thring", was an English clergyman and teacher, notable for his contributions to the early history of association football Associatio ...
of
Uppingham School Uppingham School is a co-educational independent school in Uppingham, Rutland Rutland () is a landlocked county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary, L. Brook ...
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, Bailiwick of Guernsey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football ass ...
(The FA) in 1863, which first met on the morning of 26 October 1863 at the
Freemasons' Tavern The Freemasons' Tavern was established in 1775 at 61-65 Great Queen Street Great Queen Street is a street in the West End of London, West End of central London in England. It is a continuation of Long Acre (street), Long Acre from Drury Lane t ...

Freemasons' Tavern
in
Great Queen Street Great Queen Street is a street in the West End of London, West End of central London in England. It is a continuation of Long Acre (street), Long Acre from Drury Lane to Kingsway (London), Kingsway. It runs from 1 to 44 along the north side, eas ...

Great Queen Street
, London. The only school to be represented on this occasion was
Charterhouse Charterhouse may refer to: * Charterhouse (monastery) A charterhouse (french: chartreuse; german: Kartause; it, certosa; pt, cartuxa; es, cartuja) is a monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic qu ...
. 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, 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 Sports governing body, 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 ...
. The eleven remaining clubs, under the charge of
Ebenezer Cobb Morley Ebenezer Cobb Morley (16 August 1831 – 20 November 1924) was an English sportsman. He is regarded as one of the fathers of the Football Association The Football Association (also known as The FA) is the governing body of association foot ...

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 competi ...

FA Cup
, which was founded by the footballer and cricketer , 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, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science ...

Glasgow
, again at the instigation of C.W. Alcock. England is also home to the world's first
football league The English Football League (EFL) (legal name: The Football League Limited) is a league competition featuring professional association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport playe ...
, which was founded in
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England. It is the second-largest city, urban area and ESPON metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom, metropoli ...
in 1888 by
Aston Villa Aston Villa Football Club is an English professional Association football, football club based in Aston, Birmingham. The club competes in the , the top tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their home ...
director William McGregor. The original format contained 12 clubs from the
Midlands The Midlands is the central part of England and a cultural area that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Mercia, Kingdom of Mercia. The Midlands region is bordered by Northern England and Southern England. The Midlands were important in th ...
and
Northern England Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the most northern area of England. There are three Regions of England, statistical regions defined as northern England: the North East England, North East; the North Wes ...

Northern England
. 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 Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport played with a sphere, sphe ...

International Football Association Board
(IFAB). The board was formed in 1886 after a meeting in
Manchester Manchester () is the most-populous city and metropolitan borough in North West England North West England is one of nine official regions of England and consists of the counties of Cheshire, Cumbria Cumbria ( ) is a ceremonial cou ...

Manchester
of The Football Association, the
Scottish Football Association The Scottish Football Association (also known as the SFA and the Scottish FA; sco, Scots Fitba Association; Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (i ...
, the
Football Association of Wales The Football Association of Wales (FAW; cy, Cymdeithas Bêl-droed Cymru) is the Governing bodies of sports in Wales, governing body of association football and futsal in Wales, and controls the Wales national football team, Welsh national foot ...
, and the
Irish Football Association The Irish Football Association (IFA) is the governing body for association football in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described as a countr ...

Irish Football Association
.
FIFA FIFA ( french: Fédération Internationale de Football Association; en, International Federation of Association Football, link=yes; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociación''; German language, German: ''Int ...
, the international football body, was formed in Paris in 1904 and declared that they would adhere to Laws of the Game of the Football Association. The growing popularity of the international game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to the
International Football Association Board The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport played with a sphere, sphe ...

International Football Association Board
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 Fan commonly refers to: * Fan (machine) Sounds from a household fan. A fan is a powered machine A machine is a man-made device that uses power to apply forces and control movement to perform an action. Machines can be driven by anima ...
, local communities, and even nations. R. Kapuscinski 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 The Ivory Coast national football team (French language, French: ''Équipe de football de Côte d'Ivoire''), represents Ivory Coast, formally the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, in men's international Association football, football. Nicknamed ''the E ...
helped secure a truce to the nation's
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independenc ...
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) is the second-largest city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd editi ...
, 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 The Football War ( es, La guerra del fútbol; colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normal ...
in June 1969 between El Salvador and Honduras. The sport also exacerbated tensions at the beginning of the Croatian Independence War of the 1990s, when a match between
Dinamo Zagreb Građanski nogometni klub Dinamo Zagreb ( en, Dinamo Zagreb Citizens' Football Club, link=yes, italics=yes), commonly referred to as GNK Dinamo Zagreb or simply Dinamo Zagreb (), is a Croatian professional association football, football Football ...
and
Red Star Belgrade Fudbalski klub Crvena zvezda ( sr-Cyrl, Фудбалски клуб Црвена звезда, lit=Red Star Football Club), better known simply as Crvena zvezda (, ) or, internationally, as Red Star Belgrade, is a Serbia Serbia (, ; sr, ...
degenerated into
rioting Rioters wearing scarves to conceal their identity and filter tear gas A riot () is a form of civil disorder commonly characterized by a group lashing out in a violent public disturbance against authority In the fields of sociology Soci ...
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#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
(25–220 CE). Two female figures are depicted in
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

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 The Scottish Football Association (also known as the SFA and the Scottish FA; sco, Scots Fitba Association; Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (i ...
took place in 1892 in
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science ...

Glasgow
. 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 Nettie Honeyball, also referred to as Nettie J. Honeyball, was the founder of the British Ladies' Football Club, the first known women's association football Women's association football, usually known as women's football or women's soccer, and ...

Nettie Honeyball
in England in 1894. It was named the
British Ladies' Football Club The British Ladies' Football Club was a women's association football team formed in Great Britain in 1895. The team, regarded as the first women's football team, had as its patron Lady Florence Dixie, an aristocrat from Dumfries, and its first capta ...
. Nettie Honeyball is quoted, "I founded the association late last year 894 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 is any effort to procure Economic, social and cultural rights, economic and social rights, civil and political rights, political rights or Egalitarianism, equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group, or more generally, i ...

emancipation
, 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: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws and overseeing the g ...

Parliament
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, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war that began on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918. It involved much of Europe, as well as Russia, the Unite ...

First World War
, 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 city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents as of 2018, in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, ...

Paris
, France, in April, and also made up most of the England team against a
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
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, Bailiwick of Guernsey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football ass ...
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 The English Ladies' Football Association (ELFA) was formed in 1921 and active until 1922. It was arguably a direct response to the Football Association (FA)’s ban on women's football Football is a family of team sport A team is a Stok ...
and play moved to
rugby Rugby may refer to: Sports Rugby codes * Rugby football in various forms: ** Rugby league: 13 players per side *** Masters Rugby League *** Mod league *** Rugby league nines *** Rugby league sevens *** Touch (sport) *** Wheelchair rugby league ** ...
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 is a [group (disambiguation), group of individuals (human or non-human) working together to achieve their goal. As defined by Professor Leigh Thompson (academic), Leigh Thompson of the Kellogg School of Management, "[a] team is a group o ...
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 A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ...
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 Th ...
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 The FIFA Women's World Cup is an international association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport played with a sphere, spherical Ball (association football), ball between two tea ...

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 sport A team is a
captain Captain_is_a_title_for_the_commander_of_a_military_unit,_the_commander_of_a_ship,_aeroplane,_spacecraft,_or_other_vessel,_or_the_commander_of_a_port,_fire_department_or_police_department,_election_precinct,_etc._The_captain_is_a_military_rank_in_ar_...
_who_has_only_one_official_responsibility_as_mandated_by_the_Laws_of_the_Game:_to_represent_their_team_in_the_coin_toss_prior_to_kick-off_or__penalty_kicks. The_primary_law_is_that_players_other_than_Goalkeeper_(association_football).html" ;"title="Captain_(association_football).html" "title="roup (disambiguation), group of individuals (human or non-human) working together to achieve their goal. As defined by Professor Leigh Thompson (academic), Leigh Thompson of the Kellogg Sch ...
'' (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 (association football)">captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a military rank in ar ...
who has only one official responsibility as mandated by the Laws of the Game: to represent their team in the coin toss prior to kick-off or penalty kicks. The primary law is that players other than Goalkeeper (association football)">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, Header (association football), "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 Offside, off-side or off side may refer to: Sport * Offside (sport), a rule in a number of field team sports designed to help ensure players move together as a team ** Offside (association football) ** Offside (American football) ** Offside (band ...
position. During gameplay, players attempt to create goal-scoring opportunities through individual control of the ball, such as by
dribbling In sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spec ...
, 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 A referee (right) issues a yellow card to a player during a game of association football. A referee is an official An official is someone who holds an office (function or mandate, regardless whether it carries an actual working space with ...
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, often referred to outside the UK as the English Premier League, or sometimes the EPL, (legal name: The Football Association Premier League Limited) is the top level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 ...
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), ''The Defender'' (1989 film), a Canadian documentary * T ...
, who specialise in preventing their opponents from scoring; and
midfielder A midfielder is an association football position. Midfielders are generally positioned on the field between their team's Defender (association football), defenders and Forward (association football), forwards. Some midfielders play a stric ...
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 secondary m ...
''. 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 An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, an institution, or an association – comprisi ...
.


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
International Football Association Board The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport played with a sphere, sphe ...

International Football Association Board
(IFAB). In addition to the seventeen laws, numerous IFAB decisions and other directives contribute to the regulation of football.


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 sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertain ...
. 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 A football pitch (also known as a football field or soccer field) is the playing surface for the game of a ...
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 Tool, equipment worn on the front of an athlete's Tibia, shin to protect it from injury. These are commonly used in sports including association football, baseball, ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, crick ...
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 Human head, head, including hats, helmets, turbans and many other types. Headgear is worn for many purposes, including protective clothing, pro ...
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 An exhibition game (also known as a friendly, a scrimmages, a demonstration, a preseason game, a warmup match, or a preparation match, depending at least in part on the sport) is a sports, sporting event whose prize money and impact on the player' ...
. 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 (association football), 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 referee (association football), 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 there being controversy. video assistant referees (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 standard dimensions of a football pitch were originally expressed in imperial units. The Laws now express dimensions with approximate SI, metric 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 (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-off (association football), 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 Ball in and out of play, 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 City F.C., Stoke and
Aston Villa Aston Villa Football Club is an English professional Association football, football club based in Aston, Birmingham. The club competes in the , the top tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1874, they have played at their home ...
. Trailing 1–0 and with just two minutes remaining, Stoke were awarded a penalty. Villa's goalkeeper kicked the ball out of the ground, and by the time the ball had been recovered, the 90 minutes had elapsed and the game was over. The same law also states that the duration of either half is extended until the penalty kick to be taken or retaken is completed, thus no game shall end with a penalty to be taken.


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 Replay (sports), 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 shootout (football), 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 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 (association football), 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 (association football), 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: 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 (football), 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 (football), misconduct by a caution (Penalty card, yellow card) or dismissal (Penalty card, 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 in sport, doping, Age fraud in association football, age fraud and match fixing. 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, Bailiwick of Guernsey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football ass ...
'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 deduct 12 points from any team that enters Administration (British football), 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 and beach soccer) is
FIFA FIFA ( french: Fédération Internationale de Football Association; en, International Federation of Association Football, link=yes; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociación''; German language, German: ''Int ...
. The FIFA headquarters are located in Zürich, Switzerland. Six regional confederations are associated with FIFA; these are: * Asia: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) * Africa: Confederation of African Football (CAF) * Europe: UEFA, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) * North/Central America & Caribbean: CONCACAF, Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) * Oceania: Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) * South America: CONMEBOL, 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 The Scottish Football Association (also known as the SFA and the Scottish FA; sco, Scots Fitba Association; Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (i ...
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
International Football Association Board The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport played with a sphere, sphe ...

International Football Association Board
, 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 FIFA World Cup, World Cup, organised by FIFA. This competition takes place every four years since
1930 Events January * January 6 ** The first diesel engine automobile trip is completed (Indianapolis, Indiana, to New York City) by Clessie Cummins, founder of the company Cummins. ** An early literary character licensing agreement is signed by ...

1930
with the exception of 1942 and 1946 tournaments, which were cancelled due to
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
. 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: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a multi-sport event, ...
; the cumulative audience of all matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup was estimated to be 26.29 billion with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, final match, a ninth of the entire population of the planet. The current champions are France national football team, France, who won their second title at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 2018 tournament in Russia. The
FIFA Women's World Cup The FIFA Women's World Cup is an international association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport played with a sphere, spherical Ball (association football), ball between two tea ...

FIFA Women's World Cup
has been held every four years since 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup, 1991. Under the tournament's current format, national teams vie for 23 slots in a three-year FIFA Women's World Cup qualification, qualification phase. (The host nation's team is automatically entered as the 24th slot.) The current champions are the United States women's national soccer team, United States, after winning their fourth title in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, 2019 tournament. There has been a Football at the Summer Olympics, football tournament at every Summer Olympic Games since 1900 Summer Olympics, 1900, except at the 1932 games in 1932 Summer Olympics, 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 countries of Eastern Europe, where top athletes were state-sponsored while retaining their status as amateurs. Between 1948 Summer Olympics, 1948 and 1980 Summer Olympics, 1980, 23 out of 27 Olympic medals were won by Eastern Europe, with only Sweden national football team, Sweden (gold in 1948 and bronze in 1952), Denmark national football team, Denmark (bronze in 1948 and silver in 1960) and Japan national football team, Japan (bronze in 1968) breaking their dominance. For the 1984 Summer Olympics, 1984 Los Angeles Games, the IOC decided to admit professional players.
FIFA FIFA ( french: Fédération Internationale de Football Association; en, International Federation of Association Football, link=yes; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociación''; German language, German: ''Int ...
still did not want the Olympics to rival the World Cup, so a compromise was struck that allowed teams from Africa, Asia, Oceania and CONCACAF to field their strongest professional sides while restricting UEFA and CONMEBOL teams to players who had not played in a World Cup. Since 1992 Summer Olympics, 1992, male competitors must be under 23 years old, although since 1996 Summer Olympics, 1996, 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 UEFA European Championship, European Championship (UEFA), the Copa América (CONMEBOL), African Cup of Nations (CAF), the Asian Cup (AFC), the CONCACAF Gold Cup (CONCACAF) and the OFC Nations Cup (OFC). The FIFA Confederations Cup was contested by the winners of all six continental championships, the current FIFA World Cup 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 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2017 edition. 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 The UEFA Champions League (abbreviated as UCL) is an annual club Association football, football competition organised by the UEFA, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by List of top-division football clubs in UEFA count ...
in Europe and the Copa Libertadores in South America. The winners of each continental competition contest the FIFA Club World Cup.


Domestic competitions

The governing bodies in each country operate league systems in a Domestic association football season, domestic season, normally comprising several division (sport), divisions, in which the teams gain points throughout the season depending on results. Teams are placed into Table (information), tables, 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. At the end of a season, the top team is declared the champion. The top few teams may be promotion and relegation, promoted to a higher division, and one or more of the teams finishing at the bottom are promotion and relegation, relegated to a lower division. The teams finishing at the top of a country's league may be eligible also to play in List of association football competitions, 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 single elimination tournament, knock-out 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 football ...
(Germany),
Premier League The Premier League, often referred to outside the UK as the English Premier League, or sometimes the EPL, (legal name: The Football Association Premier League Limited) is the top level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 ...
(England),
La Liga The Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División, commonly known simply as Primera División (Spanish Premier League) in Spain, and as La Liga in English-speaking countries and officially as LaLiga Santander Group, Santander for sponsorship ...

La Liga
(Spain),
Serie A Serie A (), also called Serie A TIM due to sponsor (commercial), sponsorship by TIM (brand), TIM, is a professional league competition for Association football, football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winn ...

Serie A
(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. Adm ...
(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)
* {{Featured article Association football, Association football terminology Ball games Football codes Laws of association football Sports originating in England Physical education Summer Olympic sports, Football Articles containing video clips