Association football, also known as just football or soccer, is an organized sport played between two teams of eleven players each. It’s played on an oval field, which may be made up of one side having yellow or blue colors, or even red. It’s the most popular sport in the world, with almost 250 million people playing it in more than 200 countries and colonies. Countries that play it include Belgium, Brazil, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the United States and Sweden. Soccer has a longer history than you might think, going back at least to the eighth century BC, with the game probably originated in Europe.
The very first players to use a ball were called “footballs” (but this word today is generally regarded as interchangeable with soccer), and these soccer balls are often made from leather, which is considered to be the perfect material for high-quality soccer equipment. The earliest soccer matches were played for fun, with neither the players nor the organizers spending any money on equipment. This meant that only the strongest players were able to play. The game was limited to closed fields where the only light source was a candle or lamp held above the game, which was why goalkeepers wore black or navy suits because they had to be so bright.
Eventually, the game became organized, with each country trying to build its own team and playing a friendly match every so often. Some soccer fans are proud that their home nations, like England, France and Brazil, are some of the best soccer teams in the world, while others criticize their lax play and attitude about safety and waste of time and money. Some critics also argue that soccer is not a true team sport, because all of the players on one team are not committed to the game and push each other to succeed, unlike in other sports like rugby and basketball where the players know that if they don’t play well, their team will lose. Still, other critics argue that the game has been hijacked by commercialism, with the result that today, even young people seem more preoccupied with being able to obtain brand names and sneakers than with the sport itself.
To this end, the game today looks different from what it did in ancient times, with half time substituted for fifteen minutes of regular football and fouls given out more frequently. The introduction of goalscoring rules, whereby the ball can be converted from one direction to another by a certain number of touches with the ball, has also altered the sport significantly. Before goalscoring could be scored, a foul was committed by either a player or a member of the opposing team; nowadays, however, the foul must be intentional and a greater number of fouls are taken before the goal is scored. There is also a different way of counting a goal, with the game clock running on a round table rather than a traditional zero-minute timer.
The game also evolved with the inclusion of extra point kick after one half of play, replacing the bean kick which was introduced in 1875. Prior to this, any kick during the half had been met with an automatic kick off from the foul line. With the addition of an extra point kick, teams were able to take advantage of greater scoring opportunities. One interesting trend in international soccer, however, is that unlike the American Football Association, which has adopted the point system for determining a winner, the English Football Association avoids using the extra point kick system. In international tournaments, the extra point kick is only allowed when a goal is scored by a side with more players than the opposition.
England is not the only country that has incorporated football into its sporting culture. Many other countries around the world have developed their own unique version of the game, including Australia, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the United States. Soccer is not just a sport for professionals: children play the sport at an age level which is considered to be safe for them. It can also be played competitively during the younger ages, and even by those who are not necessarily inclined towards the sport of football. Even football enthusiasts can enjoy the game; some soccer enthusiasts play the game as a hobby.