Football or soccer as it is sometimes called is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players. The standard match length in professional football is 90 minutes, in which time the teams must attempt to out score the other by kicking the ball into the goals at each end of the pitch.
The origins of football stretch back hundreds of years, but has no finite beginning as many cultures played various sports and games that resemble football. Ancient civilisations like the Mayans and some Chinese cultures, played a game that involved the kicking of the ball into a goal or area to score points, in the case of the Mayans this was a death sport in which losing teams would be executed. Football as it is now recognised began in the 19th century, with the first set of rules being assembled in Cambridge University in 1848. These rules were added to and altered by numerous education establishments until finally on 26th October 1863 the newly formed Football Association devised the first official rulings of the game. These rules are observed by the International Football Association board and have been since 1882, they are also upheld by the Federation de International Football Association (FIFA) established in 1904.
The rules of football are intricate and littered with numerous little nuances that are rarely seen in the professional arena. But there are a few pillar stones in the rulebook, which must be adhered to. The ball must remain within the field of play if it is to be considered in play. If the ball crosses over the line the opposition of the team that touched it last are given the freedom to throw the ball in or if it is over the line adjacent to the goal the team are awarded a corner kick. No player other than the goalkeeper is allowed to handle the ball and the goalkeeper is only allowed to do so within the designated penalty area. A player may be caught offside if in a ball played forward there are not two players between himself and the goal line, ordinarily a goalkeeper and another defender.
If a player is caught offside the defending team are given a freekick from the point at which he had strayed into the offside position. Freekicks are always taken with the opposing teams players situated at least 10 yards from the ball, players may form a wall in order to block any shot but must be situated at said distance. Freekicks may come as the result of a foul of which there are many possibilities. A foul may occur by a playing deliberately obstructing or stopping a player by bringing him down or preventing his progress. Any form of violent conduct is punishable, as well as handballs and other activities that are not befitting of the sport. Fouls are punishable by a card system, if the referee deems a foul to be too strong or the player repeatedly offends he may produce a yellow card. If a second yellow card is produced for the same player they will receive an instant dismissal and be sent from the field. The referee may also brandish an instant red card for a tackle or action deemed far too strong and outside the laws of the game.
Scoring and Winning
A team may win a match by simply outscoring the opposition. To do this a team must score in the opposition’s goal, the ball does not need to hit the net but just needs to cross the by-line. The goal is protected by a goalkeeper and further up by defenders. If the defence is breached by an attacking player the goalkeeper is the last line of defence and it is his duty to prevent the attacking team from scoring. A goal may be scored by striking the ball across the line, this does not necessarily have to happen by striking it with a foot, it may be headed in or strike any other part of the body other than the hands or arms. If a match is drawn in a simple league structure the teams will share even points usually one. If in a tournament or other competition where a result is needed on the night and the match is drawn, the match may go into extra time. This is two 15-minute halves after the match in which the teams play for the duration and the winner is determined at the conclusion if a definite score is produced. If the match remains level the match may then go into penalties, in which each team is given 5 penalties to try and win the match. The penalties are taken in turns with one team taking a single shot before the other has theirs, this is done until the final penalty is taken and hopefully a result is obtained. If the two teams remain deadlocked then a final Sudden Death period begins, with the same rules as the previous penalties the only change being that if one side score and the others fail to convert theirs, the scoring team instantly wins the match.