History and Overview of Football

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Football, or Soccer as it is called in North America, Australia, and New Zealand, is a limited-contact team sport that is played between teams of 11 players each (10 outfield players and one Goalkeeper). It is played over two halves of 45 minutes each. Each team aims to score the most goals by getting the ball beyond the goal line on a rectangular pitch.

Football is widely acclaimed as the most popular sport in the world. FIFA recently released that about 1.5 billion people watched the World Cup Final across the world. The 5 biggest domestic leagues in football, The Top 5 leagues, rank in the Top 8 most-watched leagues across all sports in the world, with the Premier League standing in at number 1. You may get Bundesliga tickets to watch a game in one of the top 5 leagues.

International Football is governed by FIFA, representing the pinnacle of football. AFC, CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, OFC, and UEFA are all confederation bodies under FIFA.

National Associations are tasked with regulating football in their own country. For example, the Football Association (FA) of England and Spain’s Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). Check for premier league ticket prices and watch the most viewed league in the world.

History of Football

Ball-kicking games have appeared at various times and places, and cultures across history. Phaininda and Episkyros are ball games of ancient Greece. A mural of it can be seen on the UEFA European Championship (popularly called UEFA Euros) trophy. Harpastum was also a ball game in ancient Rome. Although, all three games resemble more Rugby than modern-day football.

Cuju, a Chinese competitive game, resembles more of modern-day football. Cuju games were even standardized and had a set of rules.

Soccer itself does not have a particular root to be traced directly back to. Despite its similarities to modern soccer, FIFA does not recognize any ancient ball game. In a bid to standardize the game of soccer, rules had to be drawn. The first major effort was the Cambridge rules, drawn up in 1848 at the University of Cambridge.

The breakthrough came in 1863 when the Football Association met up in October and drafted comprehensive rules to be followed called Laws of the Game. It is the basis of modern football. The Laws of the Game have been maintained by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) since 1886.

Governing Bodies and Competitions

Football and all associated sports are governed by FIFA, whose headquarters is in Zurich, Switzerland. FIFA is the highest governing body in Football. FIFA has six regional confederation members

  • Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
  • Confederation of African Football (CAF)
  • Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)
  • South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL),
  • Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)
  • Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)

Each nation, sub-national entity, or autonomous region may have its own National Associations registered under its confederation and FIFA. 211 National Associations are currently registered with FIFA and/or their confederation association.

No change may be made to the Rules of the Game without IFAB. Any proposal is voted upon by the UK organizations and FIFA. The UK organizations have one vote each, and FIFA has four.

Domestic Competitions

The National Football Association of a nation organizes and oversees league football that may span across different divisions. The number of games each team plays in a season depends on the number of teams in the league and the system employed by the league. The teams are placed on a table in which their points are calculated.

The team with the total number of goals wins the league. The winner may earn a chance to participate in an International Club football competition. The lowest-ranked teams are relegated to a lower division. The league’s football association determines the number of teams to be relegated.

Cup competitions that are knock-out based are organized by National Associations and maybe a ticket to participate in International Club Competitions. The oldest cup competition in football is the FA Cup. It was first played in November 1871.

The most widely known football leagues in the world are the top 5 leagues:

  • English Premier League (EPL) of England
  • Bundesliga of Germany
  • Serie A of Italy
  • Ligue 1 of France
  • La Liga of Spain

The top 5 leagues attract the world’s best players and are the face of domestic football. The total wage bill of the top 5 leagues as of 2021 is over 2 Billion Euros.

International Competitions

International competitions are broadly divided into two. International competitions involving national teams and International club competitions.

The number one International competition and the most prestigious sports tournament in the world are the FIFA World Cup. It has taken place every four years since 1930, except in 1942 and 1946, because of World War II. Close to 200 national teams participate in the qualifying rounds, with 32 teams eventually making it to the final round (will be 48 teams from 2026). Brazil has won the most FIFA World Cup titles with 5. Germany and Italy are close behind, with 4 each.

About 1.5 billion watched the FIFA World Cup Finals, which is about one-fifth of the world’s population. Other prestigious international football competitions are the Olympics football competitors and the continental championships from each of the six confederations.

The UEFA Champions League (UCL) is the most prestigious international club competition. The UCL Final averages around 400 million viewers annually and is watched in about 209 countries around the world. The qualification to participate in the UCL and other European competitions depends on how well teams perform in their various domestic leagues. The Top 5 leagues have quotas for four places in the UCL and two places in the UEFA Europa League (UEL).

The UEFA Europa League is the second most prestigious international club competition. It acts like a second division to the UCL. Some teams that get knocked out in the group stages of the UCL get to participate in the UEL. The record holder with the most UCL titles is a staggering 14, seven more than AC Milan, who has the second most UCL titles.

The Super Cup is played between the winner of the UCL and the UEL.

Club World Club is also an intentional club competition played between the winners of the UCL and the Copa Libertadores.