Association football

"Soccer" redirects here. For other uses, see Soccer (disambiguation).
This article is about the sport of association football. For other codes of football, see Football.
Association football
Football iu 1996.jpg
The attacking player (No. 10) attempts to kick the ball beyond the opposing team's goalkeeper, between the goalposts, and beneath the crossbar to score a goal.
Highest governing body FIFA
Nicknames Football, soccer, the Beautiful Game, the World Game [1]
First played 19 December 1863, Limes Field, Mortlake, London, England, United Kingdom [2]
Contact Yes ( Limited)
Team members 11 per side (including goalkeeper)
Mixed gender Yes, separate competitions
Type Team sport, ball sport
Equipment Football (or soccer ball)
Venue Football pitch (also known as football field, football ground, soccer field, soccer pitch or simply "pitch")
Country or region Worldwide
Olympic Yes, men's since the 1900 Olympics and women's since the 1996 Olympics
Paralympic Yes, 5-a-side since 2004 and 7-a-side since 1984

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, [3] is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. [4] [5] [6] [7] The game is played on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by getting the ball into the opposing goal.

The goalkeepers are the only players allowed to touch the ball with their hands or arms while it is in play and only in their penalty area. Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, but may also use their head or torso. The team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, either a draw is declared or the game goes into extra time or a penalty shootout depending on the format of the competition. The Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association in 1863. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA; French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which organises World Cups for both men and women every four years. [8]


The rules of association football were codified in England by the Football Association in 1863 and the name association football was coined to distinguish the game from the other forms of football played at the time, specifically rugby football. The first written "reference to the inflated ball used in the game" was in the mid-14th century: "Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe". [9] The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the word "soccer" was "split off in 1863". [9] According to Partha Mazumdar, the term soccer originated in England, first appearing in the 1880s as an Oxford "-er" abbreviation of the word "association". [10]

Within the English-speaking world, association football is now usually called football in the United Kingdom and mainly soccer in Canada and the United States. People in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand use either or both terms, although national associations in Australia and New Zealand now primarily use "football" for the formal name. [11]