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This article is about the overall concept of games called football. For specific versions of the game, the balls themselves and other uses of the term, see Football (disambiguation).
Several codes of football. Images, from top down, left to right: association football, Australian rules football, international rules football, a rugby union scrum, rugby league, and American football.

Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot to score a goal. Unqualified, the word football is understood to refer to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears. Sports commonly called ‘football’ in certain places include: association football (known as soccer in some countries); gridiron football (specifically American football or Canadian football); Australian rules football; rugby football (either rugby league or rugby union); and Gaelic football.[1][2] These different variations of football are known as football codes.

Various forms of football can be identified in history, often as popular peasant games. Contemporary codes of football can be traced back to the codification of these games at English public schools during the nineteenth century.[3][4] The expanse of the British Empire allowed these rules of football to spread to areas of British influence outside of the directly controlled Empire.[5] By the end of the nineteenth century, distinct regional codes were already developing: Gaelic football, for example, deliberately incorporated the rules of local traditional football games in order to maintain their heritage.[6] In 1888, The Football League was founded in England, becoming the first of many professional football competitions. During the twentieth century, several of the various kinds of football grew to become some of the most popular team sports in the world.[7]

1 Common elements
2 Etymology300px-Croke_Park_from_the_hill
3 Early history
3.1 Ancient games
3.2 Medieval and early modern Europe
3.3 Calcio Fiorentino
3.4 Official disapproval and attempts to ban football
4 Establishment of modern codes
4.1 English public schools
4.2 Firsts
4.3 Cambridge rules
4.4 Sheffield rules
4.5 Australian rules
4.6 Football Association
4.7 Rugby football
4.8 North American football codes
4.9 Gaelic football
4.10 Schism in Rugby football
4.11 Globalisation of association football
4.12 Further divergence of the two rugby codes
5 Use of the word “football”
6 Popularity
7 Football codes board
7.1 Football codes development tree
8 Present day codes and families
8.1 Association football and descendants
8.2 Rugby school football and descendants
8.3 Irish and Australian varieties
8.4 Surviving medieval ball games
8.5 Surviving UK school games
8.6 Recent inventions and hybrid games
8.7 Tabletop games, video games and other recreations
9 See also
10 Notes
11 References

Common elements

The various codes of football share certain common elements: Players in American football, Canadian football, rugby union and rugby league take up positions in a limited area of the field at the start of the game.[8] They tend to use throwing and running as the main ways of moving the ball, and only kick on certain limited occasions. Body tackling is a major skill, and games typically involve short passages of play of 5–90 seconds.[8]

Association football and Gaelic football tend to use kicking to move the ball around the pitch, with handling more limited. Body tackles are less central to the game, and players are freer to move around the field (offside laws are typically less strict).[8]

Common rules among the sports include:[9]

Two teams of usually between 11 and 18 players; some variations that have fewer players (five or more per team) are also popular.
A clearly defined area in which to play the game.
Scoring goals or points by moving the ball to an opposing team’s end of the field and either into a goal area, or over a line.
Goals or points resulting from players putting the ball between two goalposts.
The goal or line being defended by the opposing team.
Players being required to move the ball—depending on the code—by kicking, carrying, or hand-passing the ball.
Players using only their body to move the ball.

In all codes, common skills include passing, tackling, evasion of tackles, catching and kicking.[8] In most codes, there are rules restricting the movement of players offside, and players scoring a goal must put the ball either under or over a crossbar between the goalposts.
Main article: Football (word)

There are conflicting explanations of the origin of the word “football”. It is widely assumed that the word “football” (or the phrase “foot ball”) refers to the action of the foot kicking a ball.[10] There is an alternative explanation, which is that football originally referred to a variety of games in medieval Europe, which were played on foot. There is no conclusive evidence for either explanation.
Early history
Ancient games
A painting depicting Emperor Taizu of Song playing cuju (i.e. Chinese football) with his prime minister Zhao Pu (趙普) and other ministers, by the Yuan dynasty artist Qian Xuan (1235–1305)

The Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have played many ball games, some of which involved the use of the feet. The Roman game harpastum is believed to have been adapted from a Greek team game known as “ἐπίσκυρος” (Episkyros)[11][12] or “φαινίνδα” (phaininda),[13] which is mentioned by a Greek playwright, Antiphanes (388–311 BC) and later referred to by the Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215 AD). These games appear to have resembled rugby football.[14][15][16][17][18] The Roman politician Cicero (106–43 BC) describes the case of a man who was killed whilst having a shave when a ball was kicked into a barber’s shop. Roman ball games already knew the air-filled ball, the follis.[19][20] Episkyros is recognised as an early form of football by FIFA.[21]

A Chinese game called Cuju (蹴鞠), Tsu’ Chu, or Zuqiu (足球) has been recognised by FIFA as the first version of the game with regular rules.[22] It existed during the Han Dynasty, the second and third centuries BC.[citation needed] The Japanese version of cuju is kemari (蹴鞠), and was developed during the Asuka period.[23] This is known to have been played within the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto from about 600 AD. In kemari several people stand in a circle and kick a ball to each other, trying not to let the ball drop to the ground (much like keepie uppie). The game appears to have died out sometime before the mid-19th century. It was revived in 1903 and is now played at a number of festivals.[citation needed]

There are a number of references to traditional, ancient, or prehistoric ball games, played by indigenous peoples in many different parts of the world. For example, in 1586, men from a ship commanded by an English explorer named John Davis, went ashore to play a form of football with Inuit (Eskimo) people in Greenland.[24] There are later accounts of an Inuit game played on ice, called Aqsaqtuk. Each match began with two teams facing each other in parallel lines, before attempting to kick the ball through each other team’s line and then at a goal. In 1610, William Strachey, a colonist at Jamestown, Virginia recorded a game played by Native Americans, called Pahsaheman.[citation needed] On the Australian continent several tribes of indigenous people played kicking and catching games with stuffed balls which have been generalised by historians as Marn Grook (Djab Wurrung for “game ball”). The earliest historical account is an anecdote from the 1878 book by Robert Brough-Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria, in which a man called Richard Thomas is quoted as saying, in about 1841 in Victoria, Australia, that he had witnessed Aboriginal people playing the game: “Mr Thomas describes how the foremost player will drop kick a ball made from the skin of a possum and how other players leap into the air in order to catch it.” Some historians have theorised that Marn Grook was one of the origins of Australian rules football.

The Māori in New Zealand played a game called Ki-o-rahi consisting of teams of seven players play on a circular field divided into zones, and score points by touching the ‘pou’ (boundary markers) and hitting a central ‘tupu’ or target.[citation needed]

Games played in Mesoamerica with rubber balls by indigenous peoples are also well-documented as existing since before this time, but these had more similarities to basketball or volleyball, and no links have been found between such games and modern football sports. Northeastern American Indians, especially the Iroquois Confederation, played a game which made use of net racquets to throw and catch a small ball; however, although it is a ball-goal foot game, lacrosse (as its modern descendant is called) is likewise not usually classed as a form of “football.”[citation needed]

These games and others may well go far back into antiquity. However, the main sources of modern football codes appear to lie in western Europe, especially England.

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The history of football (soccer)

Football (or soccer as the game is called in some parts of the world) has a long history. Football in its current form arose in England in the middle of the 19th Century. But alternative versions of the game existed much earlier and are a part of the football history.
Early history and the precursors of football

The first known examples of a team game involving a ball, which was made out of a rock, occurred in old Mesoamerican cultures for over 3000 years ago. The ball would symbolize the sun and the captain of the losing team would be sacrificed to the gods.

The first known ball game which also involved kicking took place In China in the 3rd and 2nd century BC under the name Cuju. Cuju was played with a round ball on an area of a square. It later spread to Japan and was practiced under ceremonial forms.

Other earlier variety of ball games had been known from Ancient Greece. The ball was made by shreds of leather filled with hair. The first documents of balls filed with air are from the 7th century. In the Ancient Rome, games with balls were not included in the entertainment on the big arenas, but could occur in exercises in the military. It was the Roman culture that would bring football to the British island (Britannica). It is, however, uncertain in which degree the British people were influenced by this variability and in which degree they had developed their own variants.
The game of football takes its form

The most admitted story tells that the game was developed in England in the 12th century. In this century games that resembled football were played on meadows and roads in England. Besides from kicks, the game involved also punches of the ball with the fist. This early form of football was also much more rough and more violent than the modern way of playing. An important feature of the forerunners to football was that the games involved plenty of people and took place over large areas in towns (an equivalent was played in Florence from the 16th Century where it was called Calcio). The rampage of these games would cause damage on the town and sometimes death. These would be among the reasons for the proclamations against the game that finally was forbidden for several centuries. But the football-like games would appear again in the streets of London in the 17th Century.

It took, however, long time until the features of today’s football had been taken into practice. For a long time there was no clear distinction between football and rugby. There were also many variations concerning the size of the ball, the number of players and the length of a match.

The game was often played in schools and two of the predominant schools were Rugby and Eton. At Rugby the rules included the possibility to take up the ball with the hands and the game we today know as rugby has its origin from here. At Eton on the other hand the ball was played exclusively with the feet and can therefore be seen as a close predecessor to the modern football. The game in Rugby was called “the running game” while the game in Eton was called “the dribbling game”.

Proper rules for the game were decided at a meeting in Cambridge in 1848. Another important event in the history of football come about in 1863 when the first Football association was formed in England. This also led to a standardization of the size and weight of the ball, and also divided the game into two codes: association football and rugby.

The game would, however continue to develop for a long time and there was still much flexibility concerning the rules. For one thing, the number of players on the pitch could vary. Neither were uniforms used to distinguish the appearance of the teams. It was also common with players wearing caps – the header was yet to be a part of the game yet.

Another important difference at this stage could be noticed between English and Scottish teams. Whereas the English teams preferred to run forward with the ball in a more rugby fashion, the Scottish chose to pass the ball between their players. It would be the Scottish approach that soon became predominant.













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