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Football refers to a number of different games, all of which involve kicking (and sometimes passing or throwing or catching) a ball: soccer, Rugby League, Rugby Union, American football, Canadian football, Australian rules football, Gaelic Football.

Depending on which part of the world you live in, the word football when refering to a specific game can mean any one of the above.

Much friendly controversy has erupted over the term football, primarily because it is used in different ways in different parts of the world. Two teams play against each other to score with a ball in the opponent's area. The agreement ends there. Here at Wikipedia, in the interests of peace among all the peoples of the Earth, we shall call the American sport American football.


Football ...

Object of the game

Two teams of eleven players on each side contend to get a spherical ball into the other team's goal. The side which does this the most frequently are the winners. The primary rule for this objective is that nearly all players cannot use their hands or arms in any way while on the field.

Oversight The game is presided over by a referee, whose decisions are final, assisted by two linesmen, now officially referred to in these days of PC as referee's assistants. In many games a replacement is often available, and he or she is commonly known as the fourth official

The Teams Each team has a goal keeper that is allowed to touch the ball with his arms and shoulders when he is standing within the outer marked area around the home goal, which is called the Penalty Area (aka the "box").

The ten outfield players on either side are not allowed to touch the ball with their arms or shoulders whilst the ball is in play, but may however play it with any other part of their anatomies. The sole exception to this is when the ball is kicked out of play and a throw in results.

A number, (variable by league and nation), of players may be replaced by substitutes during the course of the game. The usual reasons for a player's replacement include injury, tiredness, ineffectiveness, a tactical switch, or to waste a little time at the end of a finely poised game.

The Pitch According to FIFA regulations the length of the football field for international matches should be in the range (100-110 metres) and the width should be in the range 64-75 metres. (For other matches the constraints are looser: 90-120 metres length by 45-90 metres width.)

The pitch is divided at the centre: this is the halfway line. Exactly halfway across the halfway line is the centre spot (this is where the ball commences play from). A circle is drawn around the centre spot, the centre circle which has a radius of 10 yards from the centre spot.

At either end of the pitch is a goal. This is a letterbox-shaped receptacle with a net behind it whose dimensions are: 8 feet in height and 24 feet in width. Two boxes are marked out on the pitch in front of the goal. The smaller box, which is layed out to surround the goal at an equal distance of 6 yards is to denote where the goalkeeper is to take goal kicks from. The outer box is known as the penalty area or the 18 yards box, and is set twelve yards to each side of the goal, and 18 yards in front of it. A small hemicircle is also drawn at the edge of the penalty area, the D. This is an exclusion zone for all players other than the one taking the kick in the event of a penalty being awarded.

The penalty spot is immediately in the middle of and 12 yards in front of the goal.

In each corner of the pitch a small quarter circle with a 1 yard radius is drawn where corner kicks are taken from.


Ordinarily a match lasts 90 minutes (two halves - 45 minutes each) plus 2-5 minutes of injury time. Some games, particularly knock-out competition matches, provide for extra time in the event of a tied result at the end of normal time. Other variations on a theme such as the golden goal or penalty shoot-outs may also be involved in concluding a game.

The Rules follow


The major international event is the World Cup which is held every four years and in which 32 countries take part. The major club event in Europe is the Champions League


In many countries (mainly in South America and Europe) football is not only a sport but also a way of life. Millions of people go to see the matches each weekend. This has a bad side, as groups of fanatics have often caused disturbances and sometimes tragedies (See hooligans).

Here is a list of links to national league football teams:

/Standard for football club information

Here is a list of links to pages relating to national football teams:

Here is a list of famous football players:

See also football team, FIFA, Soccer teams.