Considered to be the greatest sport in the world, football is watched every day by millions of excited fans on every continent. It has created an industry that is worth billions which is why its popularity increases all the time. In the United States, football is called “soccer” to avoid confusion, since American football is a totally different sport.
Football is played on a pitch where two teams, each consisted of 11 players try to maneuver the ball into the goal net to score. They can use any part of their body to do so, except their hands. Both sides have a goalkeeper who is allowed to handle the ball with his hands but only in his part of the field, which is known as the penalty area. Keep reading to learn more about football and its origins.
When talking about football history, we must make a distinction between the sport as we know it today and games that had a similar gameplay throughout history. For instance, during the 2nd and 3rd century BC, the Chinese military played a game which they called Tsu’Chu. They were kicking a ball made of leather and filled with feather and tried to score through a small opening into a net. However, they couldn’t use their hands just like in football and opposition players used their bodies to disturb your movements causing you to miss the net.
About 500 years later the Japanese invented their own version of the above game and called it Kemari. In this game, players needed to work as a team to stop the ball from touching the ground. It was similar to a game of keepie-uppie, which we still play today. On top of that, there were similar games back in ancient Grece (Episkyros), and in Roman times (Harpastum).
However, football as we know it today wasn’t invented until the 19th century. It was in 1863 when a decision fell to separate rugby football and association football. Those were the beginnings of modern football because the that’s when the official rules started to get formalized. Even though, there are reports of the game being played back in 1581 in England, 1863 is considered the start of modern football.
The first rules that came in play were The Cambridge Rules of 1848. Some of them are very similar to the football rules we have today. However, a separate set of rules were used by people in Sheffield and their Sheffield Football Club. Those rules were actually more similar to rugby which created a problem between teams that played by the Cambridge rules and teams that wanted to play by the Sheffield rules.
A lot of problems occured in the following years and it wasnt until April of 1877 when the Football Association finally agreed on a cohesive set of rules. The rules they agreed upon are still used today; however, several very important changes were made. With time, substitutions in a game were added as well as penalty kicks. Yellow and red cards, with sending players off was added too.
The offside rule was changed several times but the biggest change to modern football happened in 2012. That’s when goal technology was added so there is 100% certainty if the ball passed the line. Nevertheless a huge change to football happened between the seasons of 2018-2019 when VAR technology was added. This technology monitors everything and reduces the mistakes a referee can make to a minimum. Here are the latest rules which every club has to follow.
How To Play
Every football match has two halves, with each one lasting 45 minutes and a 15 minute break between them. At the end of each half, or after 90 minutes have passed, the referee adds a couple of minutes which are known as injury time. These extra minutes are meant to cover any time that was spent with injuries, substitutions, etc. The aim is to score more goals than your opponent before the match is over.
Pitch Rules, Players, and Equipment
The football pitch must be between 90 and 120 meters long and the width has to be between 45 and 95 meters. The circle area in front of the goalkeeper is known as the penalty box and it’s 16 meters. The small box where the goalkeeper is located is 5.5 meters wide. We have to mention the goals as well who are 2.44 meters high and 7.32 meters wide.
There are always two teams competed in a football match and each team has 11 players. The players wear football boots and matching jerseys while the goalkeepers have gloves to handle the ball. Each team has a captain who is considered the leader of the team. Additionally, there are 7 substitute players sitting on a bench by the sidelines. Three of them are allowed to come in and replace players from the initial 11. The goals can be scored with each part of the body, except the hands.
There are matches where a winner has to be decided but the score is equal so extra time must be added. In a case like this, two more halves of 15 minutes each are played. If after the added time there are no changes to the scoreline, penalties will decide the match. Keep in mind that penalties are taken from 11 meters inside the penalty box.
There have been many changes to football rules that concern referees. At the moment each match has a main referee, two linesmen (assistants), and two goal line referees. The linesman are in charge to track the offside rule, while the ones behind the goal lines to see whether the ball passed the line, both for corners and goals.
Nevertheless, with the introduction of VAR technology, more referees were added to a football game. There is an official that handles substitutions and injury time. Additionally, there are several officials located in a VAR room. In that room they have cameras all over the pitch which record anything. They can help the main referee when he is not sure about one of his decisions. Mostly, they are used for penalty calls, offside calls, possible red card incidents, etc.
Football Organisations and Tournaments
When it comes to football, it can be separated based on several things. For instance, there is Men’s and Women’s football, Club and Country football, professional and Under 23 or below, etc. All of these types of football matches are controlled by a single governing body known as The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
However, there are 211 national associations which is way to many for a single organisation to control. For that reason, several different regional confederations were created. Furthermore, each nation or club must be a part of one of these regional confederations:
- Asian Football Confederation
- Confederation of African Football
- Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football
- Confedarcion Sudamericana de Futbol
- Oceania Football COnfederation
- Union of European Football Associations
All confederations control both the club and national football in their area. The most well known organisation is of course the Union of European Football Associations or commonly known as UEFA. They are in charge of organizing the European Championship in coalition with FIFA; however, they are also in charge of all the club football in Europe. Most importantly, they take care of the world’s best annual competitions, the Champions League, and the Europa League.
Most Popular Tournaments
As you can imagine there are a lot of leagues that are part of these regional organisations. This is why sports betting is so popular when it comes to football. There are matches every day, and you can also bet on pretty much everything. Here are the best competitions in the world, according to FIFA rankings:
10. Copa Del Rey – Spanish Cup
9. Confederations Cup
8. FA Cup
7. Africa Cup of Nations
6. UEFA Europa League
5. Copa Libertadores
4. Copa America
3. UEFA European Championship
2. UEFA Champions League
1. FIFA World Cup
Last but not least, we have to mention the best and most entertaining football leagues in the world. They are:
5. French Ligue 1
4. Italian Serie A
3. German Bundesliga
2. Spanish La Liga
1. English Premier League
These are all the most watched competitions, with millions of people every day setting two hours of their time to watch a football match. Keep in mind that the number of fans increases with every passing minute.
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