Association football, commonly refered to as football or soccer in English-speaking countries, is the world's most popular sport, and the only sport that is popular on an almost global level.
Association Football Rules
Association football is played by two teams each consisting of 10 field players and a goalie. While the goalie can use his hands in a specified "penality box", the field players must use their feet, heads, knees, chest, and other body parts besides arms, elbows, and hands to attempt to score a goal while preventing their opponents from scoring.
Thpe ultimate goal in a soccer match is to win. To do this, the team must score more goals than the opposing team. To score, the soccer ball (the object the game is played with) must fully pass the goal line (the straight line reaching from post to post). A goal is always worth one no matter where or how it is scored.
The team that scores the most goals at the end of ninty minutes plus added injury time is declared the winner. In the result of the score being even, a tie will usually be given. However, in the case in which a team needs to be eliminated, the game will be decided first by two 15 minute extra time halfs. If the game is still tied after extra time it will be decided by PKs.
History of Association Football
The birth of association football can actually be dated back till the B.C era, but the beginning of modern football/soccer really began around 1863 in England. This was the time where efforts where made to standardize the game. Before modern rules were developed, teams often had to agree on a set of rules before a match!
The first real modern set of rules for association football was published by the FA, the first association football organization. This was really the first large attempt at creating one set of rules for the game.
At around this time the sports became called association football to seperate it from other sports such as football rugby. Out of association football soccer was also born.
The rules evolved over the years, and leagues and tournaments soon sprouted. Association football would grow in popularity, eventually becoming the most popular sport in the world.
Association Football Leagues
As association football climbed in popularity leagues were started in many different countries. Today the most popular leagues are as follows:
English Premier League
Modern football was born in England so it is is no surprise that they have the world's biggest and best league. Players get paid huge sums of money, and the clubs are amoung the worlds best.
The league is also known for its fast style of play, and top-notch players. The big four teams are Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United. These teams often take the top spots.
Spanish Premier League (La Liga)
Some people consider the Spanish Premier League to be even better than the English Premier League. While this is debatable, there is no doubt that this is a very strong league. Great players like Christano Ronaldo and David Beckham started in the English Premier and then preceded to the Spansh Premier League.
The league is known for its slower more tactical play which always leads to critics asking if players moving from other leagues like the English Premier League can adapt.
The Spanish Premier League has produced great teams that rival Englands finest. For example, Real Madrid and Barecelona can both compete with and defeat any English team.
While La Liga and the English Premier league are the two best leagues, that is not to say that they are the only great leagues. The top league of any soccer country is a very high level, and the players get paid well.
Germany, Ireland/Scotland, Mexico, Italy, and the United States (league called the MLS) all have great leagues. These leagues are all amoung the worlds best.
Association Football Tournaments
Soccer tournaments show off the games best and sometimes worse qualities. They provide drama, competitiveness in the extreme, and good sportsmanship. These tournaments are what the sport of soccer best has to offer to its fans and players across the world.
The World Cup is soccer and the world's biggest tournament. 32 national teams compete to win the biggest soccer honor every four years.
To qualify, national teams must place in the World Cup by playing qualifying games against other national teams. This goes on in the gap years before the next World Cup starts.
The World Cup is played in the host nation's country. The host nation is decided by a number of factors and switches every World Cup. For instance, the most recent cup was held in South Africa and the next one will be held in Brazil.
UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champioins League final is in line with the Super Bowl for the most watched final drawing in over 100 million soccer fans. It consists of the best clubs from all over the world competing for the cup.
Real Madrid has won the Champioins League 9 times, a stunning record that no other team has matched. The tournament has been won by 15 other teams.
The amazing thing about the FA cup is that clubs from lower leagues from all over Europe have a chance to play and even beat the giants. This has rarely happened, but it does make for some interesting matchups.
Chelsea is the current champion while Manchester United have one the cup a recorrd 11 times.
The Confederations Cup is held every four years like the World Cup, but they are spaced accordinly. the cup is considered a "warm-up" for the World Cup especially for the World Cup host nation who automatically qualifies and therefore gets to face hard competition.
Unlike the World Cup, the Confederations Cup is small. There are only 8 teams so qualifying is hard. Cup participation is optional so teams have declined their spots in the past leaving it open for another team.
The most successful team for this tournament is Brazil. They have one 3 cups, including the most recent one, which is more than any team.