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Football 101: Everything You Need to Know About the World's Most Popular Sport

Football, also known as Soccer, is currently the most popular sport in the world. Here is a quick overview of everything you need to know about the game.

Football has been a popular sport around the world for centuries, but the modern game we know today dates back to the formation of The Football Association in 1863 in England. Since then, the association has strengthened in numbers. From orange slices and muddy knees at Saturday football games to gathering to watch the World Cup every four years, the love of the game is shared by many. In fact, these days association football is the most popular sport in the world.

Football or Soccer?

The game commonly goes by two names: Football or Soccer. This can be confusing for some, especially those in Australia where both names are frequently used. So to clear things up a bit here’s a little explanation.

The game is officially named association football, referring to the Football Association that codified the game. However, as a simpler version of the official name, ‘football’ is used most often. The name ‘soccer’ took up popularity in America to differentiate from the more popular game Gridiron Football which was also commonly named ‘football’. The name ‘soccer’ came about as a derivative of the word ‘association’, it was first called ‘assoccer’ then shortened to the name we know today.

The word soccer is also often used in other countries, including in Australia to differentiate from other popular variants of football.

How the game works.

Football is a team sport with two teams of 11 players playing against each other on a field. Of the 11 players, one is designated as the goalkeeper and the remaining 10 are known as outfield players. These players usually play attack or defense. During a match, the teams are usually split up into different positions- defenders, midfielders and forwards. But despite these positions the players are allowed to be anywhere on the pitch during the game.

Games are played on a rectangular field known as a pitch that has two rectangular goals, one at either end. The playing surface is often grass or sometimes an artificial grass surface but according to the laws of the game the pitch must always be green in colour.

A standard game lasts 90 minutes, broken up into two 45-minute halves. The aim of the game is to move the ball up the pitch, past defenders and into the opponent's goal. Scoring a goal results in 1 point for that team. All players on the field can score a goal for their team and a goal is also counted if the opponent accidentally moves the ball into their own goal.

At full time, the team who scored the most goals is deemed the winner.

Basic rules

The official rules of the game are outlined by the Football Association in the Laws of the Game handbook. There are 17 detailed laws but here is a quick outline of the 5 basic rules:

  • No hands-  At no time in the game can the ball be handled by a player; players cannot use any part of the body from the tips of the fingers to the shoulder. The only exception to this rule is the goal keeper who is allowed to handle the ball, also a player is allowed to handle the ball when doing a throw-in.
  • Throw-ins-  After the ball leaves the field over the sideline a throw-in is taken. A throw-in must be made with two feet on the ground and both hands over the head.
  • Fouls- A player is not allowed to kick, trip, charge, strike, push, hold or spit at an opponent. When a player does this it is called a foul.
  • Red and Yellow cards- These are used as responses to a player’s misconduct. A yellow card is a caution and a red card is used to directly send a player off the field for the remainder of the match. If a player receives two yellow cards, they are automatically red carded.
  • Offside- Players cannot be offside during a free kick, corner kick or throw in. A player is deemed offside if they are nearer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.