game played by two teams on a rectangular field, with the objective of forcing the ball- either by kicking it or directing it with the forehead- into the opponent's goal. Players control the ball primarily with their feet; only goalkeepers are allowed to handle the ball. Soccer is the world's most popular sport, played by men and women of all ages.
Rules, Regulations, and Equipment
The Fédération Internationale de Football Associations (FIFA) is the governing body for international soccer and formulates rules for worldwide use. The game is played by two teams of 11 players on playing fields of varying sizes. A goal made of two upright posts spanned by a crossbar is located at each end of the field. Games normally consist of two 45-minute halves. The team with the most goals wins the game.
The soccer ball is an inflated sphere with an outer covering, usually leather. It is 27 to 28 in (68 to 71 cm) in circumference and weighs 14 to 16 oz (396 to 453 g). Goalkeepers wear jerseys in different colors to distinguish them from teammates and often wear special gloves. Soccer shoes can have studs, or cleats. Shin guards are compulsory, but no other protective equipment is permitted.
Playing the Game
Play begins with a kickoff from the center spot. The team in possession of the ball tries to advance it by dribbling or passing. The defending team tries to take possession of the ball by intercepting passes or by stripping the ball from an opponent. Direct free kicks, indirect free kicks, and penalty kicks are administered as a consequence for penalties such as tripping, holding, or for players other than the goalkeeper using their hands or arms to control the ball. Under FIFA rules, the game clock runs continuously throughout each half with no time-outs. Between three and five substitutes can be used by each team during a game, but once a player has been removed, that player cannot reenter the game. College, high school, and youth leagues allow time-outs and permit substitutes to reenter the game.
The modern game of soccer began in the 19th century in England. At a meeting of the London Football Association (FA) in 1863, the game of football was split into rugby football, in which handling and carrying the ball was allowed, and association football, which banned using the hands. From the word association, the name soccer emerged. The FA established the first set of rules for soccer, and the FA Cup, a tournament first organized in 1871, sparked the rapid spread of the sport in England.
By the end of the 19th century, British traders, sailors, and workers had carried the sport all over the world. By 1930 professional leagues were operating in many countries, and that year FIFA organized the first world championship. Now known as the World Cup, the tournament is played every four years and has become the world's most popular sporting event.