Football is a ball game played between two teams of eleven
players, each attempting to win by scoring more goals
than their opponent. Football is played predominantly
with the feet, but players may use any part of their body
except their hands and arms to propel the ball; the exceptions
to this are the two goalkeepers, who are the only players
allowed to handle the ball in the field of play, albeit
The sport is also known by other names in some parts of
the English-speaking world, usually soccer or association
football. These names are often used to distinguish the
game from other codes of football, since the word "football"
may be used to refer to several quite different games.
Football is played at a professional level all over the
world, and millions of people regularly go to a football
stadium to follow their favourite team, whilst millions
more avidly watch the game on television. A very large
number of people also play football at an amateur level.
According to a survey conducted by Fédération Internationale
de Football Association (FIFA), football's governing body,
published in the spring of 2001, over 240 million people
regularly play football in more than 200 countries in
every part of the world. Its simple rules and minimal
equipment requirements have no doubt aided its spread
and growth in popularity. 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;
it is therefore often claimed to be the most popular sport
in the world.
Nature of the game
Two teams of eleven players each compete to get a spherical
ball (itself known as a football) into the other team's
goal, thereby scoring a goal. The team which has scored
the most goals at the conclusion of the game is the winner;
if both teams have an equal number of goals then the game
is a draw. The primary rule for this objective is that
players, other than the goalkeepers, may not intentionally
touch the ball with their hands or arms during play (though
they do use their hands during a throw-in restart). Although
players mainly use their feet to move the ball around,
they may use any part of their bodies other than their
hands or arms.
A goalkeeper dives to stop the ball from entering his
goal.In typical game play, players attempt to move towards
a goal through individual control of the ball, such as
by dribbling (running with the ball close to their feet);
by passing the ball from team-mate to team-mate; and by
taking shots at the goal. Opposition players may try to
regain control of the ball by intercepting a pass or through
tackling the opponent who controls the ball.
Football is generally a free-flowing game with the ball
in play at all times except when the ball has left the
field of play by wholly crossing over a boundary line
(either on the ground or in the air), or play has been
stopped by the referee. When play has been stopped, it
recommences with a specified restart (see below).
The game is played in accordance with a set of rules known
as the Laws of the Game, which are summarised below.
The Laws of the Game
History and development See also: Football The Laws of
the Game are based on efforts made in the mid-19th century
to standardise the rules of the widely varying games of
football played at the public schools of England. The
first set of rules resembling the modern game were produced
at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1848, at a meeting attended
by representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester
and Shrewsbury, but they were far from universally adopted.
During the 1850s, many clubs were formed, thoughout the
English-speaking world, independent of schools or universities,
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 pupils from Harrow) in
1857, which led to formation of a Sheffield FA in 1867.
In 1862, J.C. Thring of Uppingham School also devised
an influential set of rules.
These efforts contribute to the formation of The Football
Association (The FA) in 1863 which first met on the evening
of 26 October 1863 at the Freemason's Tavern in Great
Queen Street, London. The only school to be represented
on this occasion was Charterhouse. The Freemason's Tavern
was the setting for five more meetings between October
and December, which eventually produced the first comprehensive
set of rules. At the final meeting, the first FA treasurer,
who was the representative from Blackheath, withdrew his
club from the FA over the removal of two draft rules at
the previous meeting, the first which allowed for the
running with the ball in hand and the second, 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 but instead in 1871
formed the Rugby Football Union. The eleven remaining
clubs, under the charge of Ebenezer Cobb Morley, went
on to ratify the original fourteen rules of the game.
Despite this, the Sheffield FA played by its own rules
until the 1870s.
Today the laws of the game are determined by the International
Football Association Board (IFAB). The Board was formed
in 1882 after a meeting in Manchester of The Football
Association, the Scottish Football Association, the Football
Association of Wales, and the Irish Football Association.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association
FIFA, the international football body, was formed in Paris
in 1904 and declared that they would adhere to the rules
laid down by the IFAB. The growing popularity of the international
game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to
the IFAB in 1913. Today the board is made up of four representatives
from FIFA and one representative from each of the four