Football or Soccer, depending on where in the world you find yourself, is by far the most popular sport in terms of fans and participation. It also goes by the nickname The Beautiful Game and was first played in the mid-19th century in England. It is a team sport played with a spherical ball on a playing area called a pitch. There are eleven players in each team and the rules of the game are known as the Laws of the Game. The objective for each team is to move the ball between the posts and underneath the bar of the opponent’s goal. The goalkeeper is the only player permitted to touch the ball with his or her hands and arms. Looking back at the history of the sport, the Chinese game of cuju is the earliest form of football for which there is evidence. Players could use any part of their body apart from their hands and the ball was kicked through an opening into a net. Cuju had the nearest similarities to modern football. In Greece games like phaininda and episkyros were also ball games, but resembled more a combination of rugby, football, wrestling and volleyball.  

The Cambridge Rules were first drawn up in 1848 at Cambridge University, but these were not universally accepted. Some clubs developed their own code of rules of which the most notable one was Sheffield Football Club. It was in 1863 that The Football Association (FA) was formed with the purpose of producing a standard set of rules to be used by all clubs. The initial draft included lines where a player was allowed to run with the ball in hand and where a player could be obstructed by hacking, tripping or holding. These two lines were removed leading to the withdrawal of clubs from the FA and the subsequent formation of the Rugby Football Union. The world’s oldest football competition is the FA Cup and has been contested by English clubs since 1872. The first football international match was played between Scotland and England in Glasgow also in 1872. More than a decade later the first league was formed consisting of twelve English teams. The laws of the game are determined by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) that was formed in 1886.  

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA is the world governing body for football and was established in Paris in 1904. Over 250 million people from more than 200 countries play the game either at a professional or amateur level. Each continent has their own governing body reporting to FIFA with a purpose to manage and develop the sport so that more nations can establish professional leagues, particularly women’s football and the formation of international competitions for different age groups.

Fédération Internationale de Football Association

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