Across the world, hundreds of millions of people participate in the sport of football every year. This sport is played by teams of 11-18 players, who use their arms and legs to move the ball toward their opponents’ goal. They do this by kicking the ball with their feet, arms or hands. Each team’s goal is to score a goal, which is scored when the ball crosses the goal line.
The game is controlled by a referee, who is assisted by two assistant referees. The referee is also the timekeeper. A standard adult football match consists of two 45-minute halves. The first half is usually 15 minutes long, followed by a 15-minute break. The second half may last as long as 45 minutes. The referee has the authority to award free kicks and penalties. He may also add time to the match if a player is injured.
A penalty kick is awarded when a player commits a serious foul inside the penalty area. All players on the offending team must be within 10 yards of the ball. There is also a pass-back rule, which prohibits the goalkeeper from handling the ball if his teammate kicks it.
The Football Association was founded in 1863, and its first meetings were held in the Freemason’s Tavern on Great Queen Street in London. A year later, it sanctioned the payment of players, a practice that became common by 1884.
In the 1870s, the leading clubs started charging admission to their stadia, making it possible for them to attract better players. Their fan bases grew rapidly. By the mid-1880s, the issue of professionalism reached a boiling point. In response to this crisis, several urban institutions organized working-class football teams. This new form of leisure for the industrial workers began to gain popularity.
The Football League was formed in 1888, and the leading clubs of the North and Midlands began competing against each other. By the mid-1890s, the Irish and Scots leagues were formed. In 1920, the Southern League and the Football League merged, and the Football League expanded its competitions. In 1893, the Football League introduced a lower second division.
Throughout the 20th century, football continued to grow in popularity. In fact, more than 240 million people play the sport in over 200 countries worldwide. This number has continued to increase throughout the 21st century. In 2010, a combined television audience of 26 billion watched the World Cup finals. In fact, FIFA estimates that there are 250 million football players in the world today.
Since its inception, football has been included in each Summer Olympic Games. Its first appearance in the Olympics was at the 1908 London Games. The tournament was originally amateur only, but professional footballers were allowed to play in the 1984 Summer Olympics. The tournament has been played in every Summer Olympic Games since that time, except for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
The governing body of the sport is the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which is comprised of delegates from four national football associations in the United Kingdom. It has the authority to make amendments to the Laws of the Game, which are a set of seventeen laws. These laws are often framed in broad terms to allow for flexibility in application.