Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball 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. These different variations of football are known as football codes.
There are a number of references to traditional, ancient, or prehistoric ball games played by indigenous peoples in many different parts of the world. Contemporary codes of football can be traced back to the codification of these games at English public schools during the nineteenth century. The expansion of the British Empire allowed these rules of football to spread to areas of British influence outside the directly controlled Empire. 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. 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.
The various codes of football share certain common elements and can be grouped into two main classes of football: carrying codes like American football, Canadian football, rugby union and rugby league, where the ball is moved about the field while being held in the hands or thrown, and kicking codes such as Association football and Gaelic football, where the ball is moved primarily with the feet, and where handling is strictly limited.
Common rules among the sports include:
In all codes, common skills include passing, tackling, evasion of tackles, catching and kicking. 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.
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. 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.
A Chinese game called cuju (蹴鞠) has been recognised by FIFA as the first version of the game with regular rules. It existed during the Han dynasty and possibly the Qin dynasty, in the second and third centuries BC. The Japanese version of cuju is kemari (蹴鞠), and was developed during the Asuka period. 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 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) or "φαινίνδα" (phaininda), 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. 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. Episkyros is recognised as an early form of football by FIFA.
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. 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. 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.
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."
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.
The Middle Ages saw a huge rise in popularity of annual Shrovetide football matches throughout Europe, particularly in England. An early reference to a ball game played in Britain comes from the 9th century Historia Brittonum, which describes "a party of boys ... playing at ball". References to a ball game played in northern France known as La Soule or Choule, in which the ball was propelled by hands, feet, and sticks, date from the 12th century.
The early forms of football played in England, sometimes referred to as "mob football", would be played between neighbouring towns and villages, involving an unlimited number of players on opposing teams who would clash en masse, struggling to move an item, such as inflated animal's bladder to particular geographical points, such as their opponents' church, with play taking place in the open space between neighbouring parishes. The game was played primarily during significant religious festivals, such as Shrovetide, Christmas, or Easter, and Shrovetide games have survived into the modern era in a number of English towns (see below).
The first detailed description of what was almost certainly football in England was given by William FitzStephen in about 1174–1183. He described the activities of London youths during the annual festival of Shrove Tuesday:
After lunch all the youth of the city go out into the fields to take part in a ball game. The students of each school have their own ball; the workers from each city craft are also carrying their balls. Older citizens, fathers, and wealthy citizens come on horseback to watch their juniors competing, and to relive their own youth vicariously: you can see their inner passions aroused as they watch the action and get caught up in the fun being had by the carefree adolescents.
Most of the very early references to the game speak simply of "ball play" or "playing at ball". This reinforces the idea that the games played at the time did not necessarily involve a ball being kicked.
An early reference to a ball game that was probably football comes from 1280 at Ulgham, Northumberland, England: "Henry... while playing at ball.. ran against David". Football was played in Ireland in 1308, with a documented reference to John McCrocan, a spectator at a "football game" at Newcastle, County Down being charged with accidentally stabbing a player named William Bernard. Another reference to a football game comes in 1321 at Shouldham, Norfolk, England: "[d]uring the game at ball as he kicked the ball, a lay friend of his... ran against him and wounded himself".
In 1314, Nicholas de Farndone, Lord Mayor of the City of London issued a decree banning football in the French used by the English upper classes at the time. A translation reads: "[f]orasmuch as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large foot balls [rageries de grosses pelotes de pee] in the fields of the public from which many evils might arise which God forbid: we command and forbid on behalf of the king, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future." This is the earliest reference to football.
In 1363, King Edward III of England issued a proclamation banning "...handball, football, or hockey; coursing and cock-fighting, or other such idle games", showing that "football" – whatever its exact form in this case – was being differentiated from games involving other parts of the body, such as handball.
A game known as "football" was played in Scotland as early as the 15th century: it was prohibited by the Football Act 1424 and although the law fell into disuse it was not repealed until 1906. There is evidence for schoolboys playing a "football" ball game in Aberdeen in 1633 (some references cite 1636) which is notable as an early allusion to what some have considered to be passing the ball. The word "pass" in the most recent translation is derived from "huc percute" (strike it here) and later "repercute pilam" (strike the ball again) in the original Latin. It is not certain that the ball was being struck between members of the same team. The original word translated as "goal" is "metum", literally meaning the "pillar at each end of the circus course" in a Roman chariot race. There is a reference to "get hold of the ball before [another player] does" (Praeripe illi pilam si possis agere) suggesting that handling of the ball was allowed. One sentence states in the original 1930 translation "Throw yourself against him" (Age, objice te illi).
King Henry IV of England also presented one of the earliest documented uses of the English word "football", in 1409, when he issued a proclamation forbidding the levying of money for "foteball".
There is also an account in Latin from the end of the 15th century of football being played at Cawston, Nottinghamshire. This is the first description of a "kicking game" and the first description of dribbling: "[t]he game at which they had met for common recreation is called by some the foot-ball game. It is one in which young men, in country sport, propel a huge ball not by throwing it into the air but by striking it and rolling it along the ground, and that not with their hands but with their feet... kicking in opposite directions" The chronicler gives the earliest reference to a football pitch, stating that: "[t]he boundaries have been marked and the game had started.
Other firsts in the mediæval and early modern eras:
In the 16th century, the city of Florence celebrated the period between Epiphany and Lent by playing a game which today is known as "calcio storico" ("historic kickball") in the Piazza Santa Croce. The young aristocrats of the city would dress up in fine silk costumes and embroil themselves in a violent form of football. For example, calcio players could punch, shoulder charge, and kick opponents. Blows below the belt were allowed. The game is said to have originated as a military training exercise. In 1580, Count Giovanni de' Bardi di Vernio wrote Discorso sopra 'l giuoco del Calcio Fiorentino. This is sometimes said to be the earliest code of rules for any football game. The game was not played after January 1739 (until it was revived in May 1930).
There have been many attempts to ban football, from the middle ages through to the modern day. The first such law was passed in England in 1314; it was followed by more than 30 in England alone between 1314 and 1667.:6 Football faced armed opposition in the 18th Century when used as a cover for violent protest against the enclosure act. Women were banned from playing at English and Scottish Football League grounds in 1921, a ban that was only lifted in the 1970s. Female footballers still face similar problems in some parts of the world.
While football continued to be played in various forms throughout Britain, its public schools (equivalent to private schools in other countries) are widely credited with four key achievements in the creation of modern football codes. First of all, the evidence suggests that they were important in taking football away from its "mob" form and turning it into an organised team sport. Second, many early descriptions of football and references to it were recorded by people who had studied at these schools. Third, it was teachers, students and former students from these schools who first codified football games, to enable matches to be played between schools. Finally, it was at English public schools that the division between "kicking" and "running" (or "carrying") games first became clear.
The earliest evidence that games resembling football were being played at English public schools – mainly attended by boys from the upper, upper-middle and professional classes – comes from the Vulgaria by William Herman in 1519. Herman had been headmaster at Eton and Winchester colleges and his Latin textbook includes a translation exercise with the phrase "We wyll playe with a ball full of wynde".
Richard Mulcaster, a student at Eton College in the early 16th century and later headmaster at other English schools, has been described as "the greatest sixteenth Century advocate of football". Among his contributions are the earliest evidence of organised team football. Mulcaster's writings refer to teams ("sides" and "parties"), positions ("standings"), a referee ("judge over the parties") and a coach "(trayning maister)". Mulcaster's "footeball" had evolved from the disordered and violent forms of traditional football:
[s]ome smaller number with such overlooking, sorted into sides and standings, not meeting with their bodies so boisterously to trie their strength: nor shouldring or shuffing one an other so barbarously ... may use footeball for as much good to the body, by the chiefe use of the legges.
In 1633, David Wedderburn, a teacher from Aberdeen, mentioned elements of modern football games in a short Latin textbook called Vocabula. Wedderburn refers to what has been translated into modern English as "keeping goal" and makes an allusion to passing the ball ("strike it here"). There is a reference to "get hold of the ball", suggesting that some handling was allowed. It is clear that the tackles allowed included the charging and holding of opposing players ("drive that man back").
A more detailed description of football is given in Francis Willughby's Book of Games, written in about 1660. Willughby, who had studied at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Sutton Coldfield, is the first to describe goals and a distinct playing field: "a close that has a gate at either end. The gates are called Goals." His book includes a diagram illustrating a football field. He also mentions tactics ("leaving some of their best players to guard the goal"); scoring ("they that can strike the ball through their opponents' goal first win") and the way teams were selected ("the players being equally divided according to their strength and nimbleness"). He is the first to describe a "law" of football: "they must not strike [an opponent's leg] higher than the ball".
English public schools were the first to codify football games. In particular, they devised the first offside rules, during the late 18th century. In the earliest manifestations of these rules, players were "off their side" if they simply stood between the ball and the goal which was their objective. Players were not allowed to pass the ball forward, either by foot or by hand. They could only dribble with their feet, or advance the ball in a scrum or similar formation. However, offside laws began to diverge and develop differently at each school, as is shown by the rules of football from Winchester, Rugby, Harrow and Cheltenham, during between 1810 and 1850. The first known codes – in the sense of a set of rules – were those of Eton in 1815  and Aldenham in 1825.)
During the early 19th century, most working class people in Britain had to work six days a week, often for over twelve hours a day. They had neither the time nor the inclination to engage in sport for recreation and, at the time, many children were part of the labour force. Feast day football played on the streets was in decline. Public school boys, who enjoyed some freedom from work, became the inventors of organised football games with formal codes of rules.
Football was adopted by a number of public schools as a way of encouraging competitiveness and keeping youths fit. Each school drafted its own rules, which varied widely between different schools and were changed over time with each new intake of pupils. Two schools of thought developed regarding rules. Some schools favoured a game in which the ball could be carried (as at Rugby, Marlborough and Cheltenham), while others preferred a game where kicking and dribbling the ball was promoted (as at Eton, Harrow, Westminster and Charterhouse). The division into these two camps was partly the result of circumstances in which the games were played. For example, Charterhouse and Westminster at the time had restricted playing areas; the boys were confined to playing their ball game within the school cloisters, making it difficult for them to adopt rough and tumble running games.
William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, is said to have "with a fine disregard for the rules of football, as played in his time [emphasis added], first took the ball in his arms and ran with it, thus creating the distinctive feature of the rugby game." in 1823. This act is usually said to be the beginning of Rugby football, but there is little evidence that it occurred, and most sports historians believe the story to be apocryphal. The act of 'taking the ball in his arms' is often misinterpreted as 'picking the ball up' as it is widely believed that Webb Ellis' 'crime' was handling the ball, as in modern soccer, however handling the ball at the time was often permitted and in some cases compulsory, the rule for which Webb Ellis showed disregard was running forward with it as the rules of his time only allowed a player to retreat backwards or kick forwards.
The boom in rail transport in Britain during the 1840s meant that people were able to travel further and with less inconvenience than they ever had before. Inter-school sporting competitions became possible. However, it was difficult for schools to play each other at football, as each school played by its own rules. The solution to this problem was usually that the match be divided into two halves, one half played by the rules of the host "home" school, and the other half by the visiting "away" school.
The modern rules of many football codes were formulated during the mid- or late- 19th century. This also applies to other sports such as lawn bowls, lawn tennis, etc. The major impetus for this was the patenting of the world's first lawnmower in 1830. This allowed for the preparation of modern ovals, playing fields, pitches, grass courts, etc.
Apart from Rugby football, the public school codes have barely been played beyond the confines of each school's playing fields. However, many of them are still played at the schools which created them (see Surviving UK school games below).
Public schools' dominance of sports in the UK began to wane after the Factory Act of 1850, which significantly increased the recreation time available to working class children. Before 1850, many British children had to work six days a week, for more than twelve hours a day. From 1850, they could not work before 6 a.m. (7 a.m. in winter) or after 6 p.m. on weekdays (7 p.m. in winter); on Saturdays they had to cease work at 2 p.m. These changes meant that working class children had more time for games, including various forms of football.
The earliest known matches between public schools are as follows:
The first documented club to bear in the title a reference to being a 'football club' were called "The Foot-Ball Club" who were located in Edinburgh, Scotland, during the period 1824–41. The club forbade tripping but allowed pushing and holding and the picking up of the ball.
In 1845, three boys at Rugby school were tasked with codifying the rules then being used at the school. These were the first set of written rules (or code) for any form of football. This further assisted the spread of the Rugby game.
The earliest known matches involving non-public school clubs or institutions are as follows:
One of the longest running football fixture is the Cordner-Eggleston Cup, contested between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, Melbourne every year since 1858. It is believed by many to also be the first match of Australian rules football, although it was played under experimental rules in its first year. The first football trophy tournament was the Caledonian Challenge Cup, donated by the Royal Caledonian Society of Melbourne, played in 1861 under the Melbourne Rules. The oldest football league is a rugby football competition, the United Hospitals Challenge Cup (1874), while the oldest rugby trophy is the Yorkshire Cup, contested since 1878. The South Australian Football Association (30 April 1877) is the oldest surviving Australian rules football competition. The oldest surviving soccer trophy is the Youdan Cup (1867) and the oldest national football competition is the English FA Cup (1871). The Football League (1888) is recognised as the longest running Association Football league. The first ever international football match took place between sides representing England and Scotland on 5 March 1870 at the Oval under the authority of the FA. The first Rugby international took place in 1871.
In Europe, early footballs were made out of animal bladders, more specifically pig's bladders, which were inflated. Later leather coverings were introduced to allow the balls to keep their shape. However, in 1851, Richard Lindon and William Gilbert, both shoemakers from the town of Rugby (near the school), exhibited both round and oval-shaped balls at the Great Exhibition in London. Richard Lindon's wife is said to have died of lung disease caused by blowing up pig's bladders. Lindon also won medals for the invention of the "Rubber inflatable Bladder" and the "Brass Hand Pump".
In 1855, the U.S. inventor Charles Goodyear – who had patented vulcanised rubber – exhibited a spherical football, with an exterior of vulcanised rubber panels, at the Paris Exhibition Universelle. The ball was to prove popular in early forms of football in the U.S.A.
The earliest reference to a game of football involving players passing the ball and attempting to score past a goalkeeper was written in 1633 by David Wedderburn, a poet and teacher in Aberdeen, Scotland. Nevertheless, the original text does not state whether the allusion to passing as 'kick the ball back' ('Repercute pilam') was in a forward or backward direction or between members of the same opposing teams (as was usual at this time)
"Scientific" football is first recorded in 1839 from Lancashire and in the modern game in Rugby football from 1862 and from Sheffield FC as early as 1865. The first side to play a passing combination game was the Royal Engineers AFC in 1869/70 By 1869 they were "work[ing] well together", "backing up" and benefiting from "cooperation". By 1870 the Engineers were passing the ball: "Lieut. Creswell, who having brought the ball up the side then kicked it into the middle to another of his side, who kicked it through the posts the minute before time was called" Passing was a regular feature of their style By early 1872 the Engineers were the first football team renowned for "play[ing] beautifully together" A double pass is first reported from Derby school against Nottingham Forest in March 1872, the first of which is irrefutably a short pass: "Mr Absey dribbling the ball half the length of the field delivered it to Wallis, who kicking it cleverly in front of the goal, sent it to the captain who drove it at once between the Nottingham posts" The first side to have perfected the modern formation was Cambridge University AFC and introduced the 2–3–5 "pyramid" formation.
In 1848, at Cambridge University, H. de Winton and J. C. Thring, who were both formerly at Shrewsbury School, called a meeting at Trinity College, Cambridge, with 12 other representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury. An eight-hour meeting produced what amounted to the first set of modern rules, known as the Cambridge rules. No copy of these rules now exists, but a revised version from circa 1856 is held in the library of Shrewsbury School. The rules clearly favour the kicking game. Handling was only allowed when a player catches the ball directly from the foot entitling them to a free kick and there was a primitive offside rule, disallowing players from "loitering" around the opponents' goal. The Cambridge rules were not widely adopted outside English public schools and universities (but it was arguably the most significant influence on the Football Association committee members responsible for formulating the rules of Association football).
By the late 1850s, many football clubs had been formed throughout the English-speaking world, to play various codes of football. Sheffield Football Club, founded in 1857 in the English city of Sheffield by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, was later recognised as the world's oldest club playing association football. However, the club initially played its own code of football: the Sheffield rules. The code was largely independent of the public school rules, the most significant difference being the lack of an offside rule.
The code was responsible for many innovations that later spread to association football. These included free kicks, corner kicks, handball, throw-ins and the crossbar. By the 1870s they became the dominant code in the north and midlands of England. At this time a series of rule changes by both the London and Sheffield FAs gradually eroded the differences between the two games until the adoption of a common code in 1877.
There is archival evidence of "foot-ball" games being played in various parts of Australia throughout the first half of the 19th century. The origins of an organised game of football known today as Australian rules football can be traced back to 1858 in Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria.
In July 1858, Tom Wills, an Australian-born cricketer educated at Rugby School in England, wrote a letter to Bell's Life in Victoria & Sporting Chronicle, calling for a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter. This is considered by historians to be a defining moment in the creation of Australian rules football. Through publicity and personal contacts Wills was able to co-ordinate football matches in Melbourne that experimented with various rules, the first of which was played on 31 July 1858. One week later, Wills umpired a schoolboys match between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College. Following these matches, organised football in Melbourne rapidly increased in popularity.
Wills and others involved in these early matches formed the Melbourne Football Club (the oldest surviving Australian football club) on 14 May 1859. Club members Wills, William Hammersley, J. B. Thompson and Thomas H. Smith met with the intention of forming a set of rules that would be widely adopted by other clubs. The committee debated rules used in English public school games; Wills pushed for various rugby football rules he learnt during his schooling. The first rules share similarities with these games, and were shaped to suit to Australian conditions. H. C. A. Harrison, a seminal figure in Australian football, recalled that his cousin Wills wanted "a game of our own". The code was distinctive in the prevalence of the mark, free kick, tackling, lack of an offside rule and that players were specifically penalised for throwing the ball.
The Melbourne football rules were widely distributed and gradually adopted by the other Victorian clubs. The rules were updated several times during the 1860s to accommodate the rules of other influential Victorian football clubs. A significant redraft in 1866 by H. C. A. Harrison's committee accommodated the Geelong Football Club's rules, making the game then known as "Victorian Rules" increasingly distinct from other codes. It soon adopted cricket fields and an oval ball, used specialised goal and behind posts, and featured bouncing the ball while running and spectacular high marking. The game spread quickly to other Australian colonies. Outside its heartland in southern Australia, the code experienced a significant period of decline following World War I but has since grown throughout Australia and in other parts of the world, and the Australian Football League emerged as the dominant professional competition.
During the early 1860s, there were increasing attempts in England to unify and reconcile the various public school games. In 1862, J. C. Thring, who had been one of the driving forces behind the original Cambridge Rules, was a master at Uppingham School and he issued his own rules of what he called "The Simplest Game" (these are also known as the Uppingham Rules). In early October 1863 another new revised version of the Cambridge Rules was drawn up by a seven member committee representing former pupils from Harrow, Shrewsbury, Eton, Rugby, Marlborough and Westminster.
At the Freemasons' Tavern, Great Queen Street, London on the evening of 26 October 1863, representatives of several football clubs in the London Metropolitan area met for the inaugural meeting of The Football Association (FA). The aim of the Association was to establish a single unifying code and regulate the playing of the game among its members. Following the first meeting, the public schools were invited to join the association. All of them declined, except Charterhouse and Uppingham. In total, six meetings of the FA were held between October and December 1863. After the third meeting, a draft set of rules were published. However, at the beginning of the fourth meeting, attention was drawn to the recently published Cambridge Rules of 1863. The Cambridge rules differed from the draft FA rules in two significant areas; namely running with (carrying) the ball and hacking (kicking opposing players in the shins). The two contentious FA rules were as follows:
IX. A player shall be entitled to run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball on the first bound; but in case of a fair catch, if he makes his mark he shall not run.
X. If any player shall run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at liberty to charge, hold, trip or hack him, or to wrest the ball from him, but no player shall be held and hacked at the same time.
At the fifth meeting it was proposed that these two rules be removed. Most of the delegates supported this, but F. M. Campbell, the representative from Blackheath and the first FA treasurer, objected. He said: "hacking is the true football". However, the motion to ban running with the ball in hand and hacking was carried and Blackheath withdrew from the FA. After the final meeting on 8 December, the FA published the "Laws of Football", the first comprehensive set of rules for the game later known as Association Football. The term "soccer", in use since the late 19th century, derives from an Oxford University abbreviation of "Association".
The first FA rules still contained elements that are no longer part of association football, but which are still recognisable in other games (such as Australian football and rugby football): for instance, a player could make a fair catch and claim a mark, which entitled him to a free kick; and if a player touched the ball behind the opponents' goal line, his side was entitled to a free kick at goal, from 15 yards (13.5 metres) in front of the goal line.
In Britain, by 1870, there were about 75 clubs playing variations of the Rugby school game. There were also "rugby" clubs in Ireland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. However, there was no generally accepted set of rules for rugby until 1871, when 21 clubs from London came together to form the Rugby Football Union (RFU). The first official RFU rules were adopted in June 1871. These rules allowed passing the ball. They also included the try, where touching the ball over the line allowed an attempt at goal, though drop-goals from marks and general play, and penalty conversions were still the main form of contest.
As was the case in Britain, by the early 19th century, North American schools and universities played their own local games, between sides made up of students. For example, students at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire played a game called Old division football, a variant of the association football codes, as early as the 1820s. They remained largely "mob football" style games, with huge numbers of players attempting to advance the ball into a goal area, often by any means necessary. Rules were simple, violence and injury were common. The violence of these mob-style games led to widespread protests and a decision to abandon them. Yale University, under pressure from the city of New Haven, banned the play of all forms of football in 1860, while Harvard University followed suit in 1861. In its place, two general types of football evolved: "kicking" games and "running" (or "carrying") games. A hybrid of the two, known as the "Boston game", was played by a group known as the Oneida Football Club. The club, considered by some historians as the first formal football club in the United States, was formed in 1862 by schoolboys who played the "Boston game" on Boston Common. The game began to return to American college campuses by the late 1860s. The universities of Yale, Princeton (then known as the College of New Jersey), Rutgers, and Brown all began playing "kicking" games during this time. In 1867, Princeton used rules based on those of the English Football Association.
In Canada, the first documented football match was a practice game played on 9 November 1861, at University College, University of Toronto (approximately 400 yards west of Queen's Park). One of the participants in the game involving University of Toronto students was (Sir) William Mulock, later Chancellor of the school. In 1864, at Trinity College, Toronto, F. Barlow Cumberland, Frederick A. Bethune, and Christopher Gwynn, one of the founders of Milton, Massachusetts, devised rules based on rugby football. A "running game", resembling rugby football, was then taken up by the Montreal Football Club in Canada in 1868.
On 6 November 1869, Rutgers faced Princeton in a game that was played with a round ball and, like all early games, used improvised rules. It is usually regarded as the first game of American intercollegiate football.
Modern North American football grew out of a match between McGill University of Montreal and Harvard University in 1874. During the game, the two teams alternated between the rugby-based rules used by McGill and the Boston Game rules used by Harvard. Within a few years, Harvard had both adopted McGill's rules and had persuaded other U.S. university teams to do the same. On 23 November 1876, representatives from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia met at the Massasoit Convention in Springfield, Massachusetts, agreeing to adopt most of the Rugby Football Union rules, with some variations.
In 1880, Yale coach Walter Camp, who had become a fixture at the Massasoit House conventions where the rules were debated and changed, devised a number of major innovations. Camp's two most important rule changes that diverged the American game from rugby were replacing the scrummage with the line of scrimmage and the establishment of the down-and-distance rules. American football still however remained a violent sport where collisions often led to serious injuries and sometimes even death. This led U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to hold a meeting with football representatives from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton on 9 October 1905, urging them to make drastic changes. One rule change introduced in 1906, devised to open up the game and reduce injury, was the introduction of the legal forward pass. Though it was underutilised for years, this proved to be one of the most important rule changes in the establishment of the modern game.
Over the years, Canada absorbed some of the developments in American football in an effort to distinguish it from a more rugby-oriented game. In 1903, the Ontario Rugby Football Union adopted the Burnside rules, which implemented the line of scrimmage and down-and-distance system from American football, among others. Canadian football then implemented the legal forward pass in 1929. American and Canadian football remain different codes, stemming from rule changes that the American side of the border adopted but the Canadian side has not.
In the mid-19th century, various traditional football games, referred to collectively as caid, remained popular in Ireland, especially in County Kerry. One observer, Father W. Ferris, described two main forms of caid during this period: the "field game" in which the object was to put the ball through arch-like goals, formed from the boughs of two trees; and the epic "cross-country game" which took up most of the daylight hours of a Sunday on which it was played, and was won by one team taking the ball across a parish boundary. "Wrestling", "holding" opposing players, and carrying the ball were all allowed.
By the 1870s, Rugby and Association football had started to become popular in Ireland. Trinity College, Dublin was an early stronghold of Rugby (see the Developments in the 1850s section, above). The rules of the English FA were being distributed widely. Traditional forms of caid had begun to give way to a "rough-and-tumble game" which allowed tripping.
There was no serious attempt to unify and codify Irish varieties of football, until the establishment of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in 1884. The GAA sought to promote traditional Irish sports, such as hurling and to reject imported games like Rugby and Association football. The first Gaelic football rules were drawn up by Maurice Davin and published in the United Ireland magazine on 7 February 1887. Davin's rules showed the influence of games such as hurling and a desire to formalise a distinctly Irish code of football. The prime example of this differentiation was the lack of an offside rule (an attribute which, for many years, was shared only by other Irish games like hurling, and by Australian rules football).
In England, by the 1890s, a long-standing Rugby Football Union ban on professional players was causing regional tensions within rugby football, as many players in northern England were working class and could not afford to take time off to train, travel, play and recover from injuries. This was not very different from what had occurred ten years earlier in soccer in Northern England but the authorities reacted very differently in the RFU, attempting to alienate the working class support in Northern England. In 1895, following a dispute about a player being paid broken time payments, which replaced wages lost as a result of playing rugby, representatives of the northern clubs met in Huddersfield to form the Northern Rugby Football Union (NRFU). The new body initially permitted only various types of player wage replacements. However, within two years, NRFU players could be paid, but they were required to have a job outside sport.
The demands of a professional league dictated that rugby had to become a better "spectator" sport. Within a few years the NRFU rules had started to diverge from the RFU, most notably with the abolition of the line-out. This was followed by the replacement of the ruck with the "play-the-ball ruck", which allowed a two-player ruck contest between the tackler at marker and the player tackled. Mauls were stopped once the ball carrier was held, being replaced by a play-the ball-ruck. The separate Lancashire and Yorkshire competitions of the NRFU merged in 1901, forming the Northern Rugby League, the first time the name rugby league was used officially in England.
Over time, the RFU form of rugby, played by clubs which remained members of national federations affiliated to the IRFB, became known as rugby union.
The need for a single body to oversee association football had become apparent by the beginning of the 20th century, with the increasing popularity of international fixtures. The English Football Association had chaired many discussions on setting up an international body, but was perceived as making no progress. It fell to associations from seven other European countries: France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, to form an international association. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in Paris on 21 May 1904. Its first president was Robert Guérin. The French name and acronym has remained, even outside French-speaking countries.
Rugby league rules diverged significantly from rugby union in 1906, with the reduction of the team from 15 to 13 players. In 1907, a New Zealand professional rugby team toured Australia and Britain, receiving an enthusiastic response, and professional rugby leagues were launched in Australia the following year. However, the rules of professional games varied from one country to another, and negotiations between various national bodies were required to fix the exact rules for each international match. This situation endured until 1948, when at the instigation of the French league, the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) was formed at a meeting in Bordeaux.
During the second half of the 20th century, the rules changed further. In 1966, rugby league officials borrowed the American football concept of downs: a team was allowed to retain possession of the ball for four tackles (rugby union retains the original rule that a player who is tackled and brought to the ground must release the ball immediately). The maximum number of tackles was later increased to six (in 1971), and in rugby league this became known as the six tackle rule.
With the advent of full-time professionals in the early 1990s, and the consequent speeding up of the game, the five metre off-side distance between the two teams became 10 metres, and the replacement rule was superseded by various interchange rules, among other changes.
The laws of rugby union also changed during the 20th century, although less significantly than those of rugby league. In particular, goals from marks were abolished, kicks directly into touch from outside the 22 metre line were penalised, new laws were put in place to determine who had possession following an inconclusive ruck or maul, and the lifting of players in line-outs was legalised.
In 1995, rugby union became an "open" game, that is one which allowed professional players. Although the original dispute between the two codes has now disappeared – and despite the fact that officials from both forms of rugby football have sometimes mentioned the possibility of re-unification – the rules of both codes and their culture have diverged to such an extent that such an event is unlikely in the foreseeable future.
The word football, when used in reference to a specific game can mean any one of those described above. Because of this, much friendly controversy has occurred over the term football, primarily because it is used in different ways in different parts of the English-speaking world. Most often, the word "football" is used to refer to the code of football that is considered dominant within a particular region. So, effectively, what the word "football" means usually depends on where one says it.
In each of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, one football code is known solely as "football", while the others generally require a qualifier. In New Zealand, "football" historically referred to rugby union, but more recently may be used unqualified to refer to association football. The sport meant by the word "football" in Australia is either Australian rules football or rugby league, depending on local popularity (which largely conforms to the Barassi Line). In francophone Quebec, where Canadian football is more popular, the Canadian code is known as le football while American football is known as le football américain and association football is known as le soccer. Of the 45 national FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) affiliates in which English is an official or primary language, most currently use Football in their organisations' official names; the FIFA affiliates in Canada and the United States use Soccer in their names. A few FIFA affiliates have recently "normalised" to using "Football", including:
Several of the football codes are the most popular team sports in the world. Globally, association football is played by over 250 million players in over 200 nations, and has the highest television audience in sport, making it the most popular in the world, American football, with 1.1 million high school football players and nearly 70,000 college football players, is the most popular sport in the United States, with the annual Super Bowl game accounting for nine of the top ten of the most watched broadcasts in U.S. television history. Australian rules football has the highest spectator attendance of all sports in Australia. Similarly, Gaelic football is the most popular sport in Ireland in terms of match attendance, and the All-Ireland Football Final is the most watched event of that nation's sporting year.
|Football||Cambridge rules (1848–1863)||Association football (1863–)|
|Sheffield rules (1857–1877)|
|Rugby Union with minor modifications||American football (1869-)||Flag football, Arena football (1987–)|
|Canadian football (1861–)||Flag football|
|Rugby union (1871–)|
|Rugby sevens (1883–)|
|Rugby league (1895–)|
|Rugby league sevens|
|Rugby rules and other English public school games||Australian rules (1859–)||International rules (1967–)|
These codes have in common the prohibition of the use of hands (by all players except the goalkeeper), unlike other codes where carrying or handling the ball is allowed
The hockey game bandy has rules partly based on the association football rules and is sometimes nicknamed as 'winter football'.
There are also motorsport variations of the game.
These codes have in common the ability of players to carry the ball with their hands, and to throw it to teammates, unlike association football where the use of hands is prohibited by anyone except the goal keeper. They also feature various methods of scoring based upon whether the ball is carried into the goal area, or kicked through a target.
These codes have in common the absence of an offside rule, the prohibition of continuous carrying of the ball (requiring a periodic bounce or solo (toe-kick), depending on the code) while running, handpassing by punching or tapping the ball rather than throwing it, and other traditions.
Note: although similar to football and volleyball in some aspects, Sepak takraw has ancient origins and cannot be considered a hybrid game.
New Zealanders on the way to their local rugby grounds should still be talking of "going to the football"
The international game is called football and were part of the international game so the game in New Zealand should be called football
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and is an industry worth over US$400 billion world wide. 80% of this is generated in Europe, though its popularity is growing in the United States. It has been estimated that there were 22 million soccer players in the world in the early 1980s, and that number is increasing. In the United States soccer is now a major sport at both the high school and college levels
The Alabama Crimson Tide football program represents the University of Alabama (variously Alabama, UA, or Bama) in the sport of American football. The team competes in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team is currently coached by Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide is among the most storied and decorated football programs in NCAA history. Since beginning play in 1892, the program claims 17 national championships, including 12 wire-service (AP or Coaches) national titles in the poll-era, and five other titles before the poll-era. From 1958 to 1982, the team was led by Hall of Fame coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who won six national championships with the program. Despite numerous national and conference championships, it was not until 2009 that an Alabama player received a Heisman Trophy, when running back Mark Ingram became the university's first winner. In 2015, Derrick Henry became the university's second Heisman winner.Alabama has 905 official victories in NCAA Division I (an additional 21 victories were vacated and 8 victories and 1 tie were forfeited), has won 31 conference championships (4 Southern Conference and 27 SEC championships) and has made an NCAA-record 69 postseason bowl appearances. Other NCAA records include 23 winning streaks of 10 games or more and 19 seasons with a 10–0 start. The program has 34 seasons with 10 wins or more (plus one vacated), and has 41 bowl victories, both NCAA records. Alabama has completed 10 undefeated seasons, 9 of which were perfect seasons. The Crimson Tide leads the SEC West Division with 14 division titles and 12 appearances in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama holds a winning record against every current and former SEC school. The Associated Press (AP) ranks Alabama 4th in all-time final AP Poll appearances, with 53 through the 2015 season.Alabama plays its home games at Bryant–Denny Stadium, located on the campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. With a capacity of 101,821, Bryant-Denny is the 8th largest non-racing stadium in the world and the seventh largest stadium in the United States.American football
American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.
American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sports of association football (known in the U.S. as soccer) and rugby football. The first match of American football was played on November 6, 1869, between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules based on the association football rules of the time. During the latter half of the 1870s, colleges playing association football switched to the Rugby Union code, which allowed carrying the ball. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football", established the snap, the line of scrimmage, eleven-player teams, and the concept of downs; later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone, and specified the size and shape of the football. The sport is closely related to Canadian football, which evolved parallel and contemporary to the American game, and most of the features that distinguish American football from rugby and soccer are also present in Canadian football.
American football as a whole is the most popular sport in the United States. The most popular forms of the game are professional and college football, with the other major levels being high school and youth football. As of 2012, nearly 1.1 million high school athletes and 70,000 college athletes play the sport in the United States annually, almost all of them men, with a few exceptions. The National Football League, the most popular American football league, has the highest average attendance of any professional sports league in the world; its championship game, the Super Bowl, ranks among the most-watched club sporting events in the world, and the league has an annual revenue of around US$10 billion.Association football
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.
Association football is one of a family of football codes, which emerged from various ball games played worldwide since antiquity. The modern game traces its origins to 1863 when the Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association.
Players are not allowed to touch the ball with hands or arms while it is in play, except for the goalkeepers within the penalty area. Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, but may also use any other part of their body except the hands and the arms. The team that scores most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, either a draw is declared or the game goes into extra time or a penalty shootout depending on the format of the competition. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA; French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which organises World Cups for both men and women every four years.Australian rules football
Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, or simply called Aussie rules, football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field, often a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between goal posts (worth six points) or between behind posts (worth one point).
During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball. The primary methods are kicking, handballing and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled: for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch the ball from a kick (with specific conditions) are awarded possession. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick or mark is paid. Players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact (such as pushing an opponent in the back), interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties or suspension for a certain number of matches, depending on the seriousness of the infringement. The game features frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring.
The sport's origins can be traced to football matches played in Melbourne, Victoria in 1858, inspired by English public school football games. Seeking to develop a game more suited to adults and Australian conditions, the Melbourne Football Club published the first laws of Australian football in May 1859, making it the oldest of the world's major football codes.Australian football has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia, while the Australian Football League (AFL), the sport's only fully professional competition, is the nation's wealthiest sporting body. The AFL Grand Final, held annually at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, is the highest attended club championship event in the world. The sport is also played at amateur level in many countries and in several variations. Its rules are governed by the AFL Commission with the advice of the AFL's Laws of the Game Committee.Captain (association football)
The team captain of an association football team, sometimes known as the skipper, is a team member chosen to be the on-pitch leader of the team: it is often one of the older/or more experienced members of the squad, or a player that can heavily influence a game or have good leadership qualities. The team captain is usually identified by the wearing of an armband.College football
College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.
Unlike most other sports in North America, no minor league farm organizations exist in American or Canadian football. Therefore, college football is generally considered to be the second tier of American football in the United States and Canadian football in Canada; one step ahead of high school competition, and one step below professional competition. However, in some areas of the country, college football is more popular than professional football, and for much of the early 20th century, college football was seen as more prestigious than professional football.
It is in college football where a player's performance directly impacts his chances of playing professional football. The best collegiate players will typically declare for the professional draft after three to four years of collegiate competition, with the NFL holding its annual draft every spring in which 256 players are selected annually. Those not selected can still attempt to land an NFL roster spot as an undrafted free agent.Defender (association football)
In the sport of association football, a defender is an outfield player whose primary role is to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals.
There are four types of defenders: centre-back, sweeper, full-back, and wing-back. The centre-back and full-back positions are essential in most modern formations. The sweeper and wing-back roles are more specialised for certain formations.EFL Championship
The English Football League Championship (often referred to as the Championship for short or the Sky Bet Championship for sponsorship reasons) is the highest division of the English Football League (EFL) and second-highest overall in the English football league system after the Premier League.
Each season, the two top-finishing teams in the Championship are automatically promoted to the Premier League. The teams that finish the season in 3rd to 6th place enter a playoff tournament, with the winner also gaining promotion to the Premier League. The three lowest-finishing teams in the Championship are relegated to League One.
The Football League Championship, which was introduced for the 2004–05 season, was previously known as the Football League First Division (1992–2004), and before that was known as Division Two (1892–1992). The winners of the Championship receive the Football League Championship trophy, the same trophy as the old First Division champions were handed prior to the Premier League's inception in 1992. Similar to other divisions of professional English football, Welsh clubs can be part of the division, making it a cross-border league.
The Championship is the wealthiest non-top flight football division in the world and the seventh richest division in Europe. With an average match attendance for the 2016–17 season of 20,130 the Championship ranked second after the German 2. Bundesliga as the most-watched secondary league in the world.
Barnsley have spent more seasons at the second level of English football than any other team and on 3 January 2011 became the first club to achieve 1,000 wins in the second level of English football with a 2–1 home victory over Coventry City. Barnsley are also the first club to play 3,000 games in second-level league football (W1028, D747, L1224). At present, Derby County and Nottingham Forest hold the longest tenure in the Championship, last being out of the division in the 2007-08 season.EFL Championship play-offs
The English Football League Championship play-offs are a series of play-off matches contested by the teams finishing from 3rd to 6th in the EFL Championship table. The semi-finals are played over two legs, with 3rd playing 6th and 4th playing 5th, with the return fixtures following. The final is played at Wembley Stadium, although from 2001 to 2006, it was played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff while Wembley was being rebuilt.
The first play-offs at this level were contested in 1987, when it was the Football League Second Division. From 1993 to 2004, following the creation of the FA Premier League as a breakaway from the Football League, it became the Division One play-offs, and since 2005 has taken its current name as the Championship play-offs following a rebranding of the remaining three divisions of the Football League.
There is no single sporting event in the world more valuable to the winners, who end up approximately £60m better off than the losers, mainly due to the increased commercial television revenue from being promoted to the Premier League. However, by convention the two finalists agree that the loser will keep all the gate receipts from the game, so as to slightly soften the financial blow of missing out.The most recent final was between Fulham and Aston Villa on 26 May 2018, with Fulham being promoted to the Premier League after a 1-0 victory.
Ipswich Town have been in the Championship play-offs a record eight times: 1987, 1997–2000 inclusive, 2004, 2005 and 2015, making the final only once in 2000 (when they won promotion). Leicester City have reached the Championship play-off final four times (in the space of five seasons), losing two in 1992 and 1993 and winning two in 1994 and 1996. Crystal Palace have also appeared in the final five times, losing in 1996 and winning in 1989, 1997, 2004 and 2013, the most wins by any club.The team finishing highest in the league (third) has succeeded in winning promotion eleven times out of thirty seasons, up to 2017, with 4th managing six promotions, 5th eight and 6th five.
The play-off winners have managed to finish above the Championship winners and runners-up in the subsequent Premier League season on seven occasions: Blackburn Rovers in 1992–93, Leicester City in 1996–97, Ipswich Town in 2000–01, West Ham United in 2005–06 and 2012–13, Swansea City in 2011–12, and Crystal Palace in 2013–14.EFL League One
The English Football League One (often referred to as League One for short or Sky Bet League One for sponsorship reasons) is the second-highest division of the English Football League and the third tier overall in the entire English football league system.
League One was introduced for the 2004–05 season. It was previously known briefly as the Football League Second Division and for much longer, prior to the advent of the Premier League, as the Football League Third Division.
At present (2018–19 season), Walsall hold the longest tenure in League One, last being out of the division in the 2006–07 season when they were promoted from League Two. There are currently seven former Premier League clubs competing in League One, namely Barnsley (1997–98), Blackpool (2010–11), Bradford City (2000–01), Charlton Athletic (2006–07), Coventry City (2000–01), Portsmouth (2009–10) and Sunderland (2016–17).EFL League Two
The English Football League Two (often referred to as League Two for short or Sky Bet EFL League Two for sponsorship reasons) is the third and lowest division of the English Football League (EFL) and fourth-highest division overall in the English football league system.
Football League Two was introduced for the 2004–05 season. It was previously known as the Football League Third Division. Before the advent of the Premier League in 1992, the fourth-highest division was known as the Football League Fourth Division.
At present (2018–19 season), Morecambe hold the longest tenure in League Two, last being outside the division in the 2006–07 season when they were promoted from the league then known as the Conference National (now the National League). There are currently two former Premier League clubs competing in League Two, namely Oldham Athletic and Swindon Town.England national football team
The England men's national football team represents England in senior men's international football and is controlled by The Football Association, the governing body for football in England.England is one of the two oldest national teams in football, alongside Scotland, whom they played in the world's first international football match in 1872. England's home ground is Wembley Stadium, London, and their headquarters are at St George's Park, Burton upon Trent. The team's manager is Gareth Southgate. Although part of the United Kingdom, England's representative side plays in major professional tournaments, but not the Olympic Games.
Since first entering the tournament in 1950, England has qualified for the FIFA World Cup 15 times. They won the 1966 World Cup, when they hosted the finals, and finished fourth in 1990 and 2018. Since first entering in 1964, England have never won the UEFA European Championship, with their best performances being a third-place finish in 1968 and 1996, the latter as hosts.English football league system
The English football league system, also known as the football pyramid, is a series of interconnected leagues for men's association football clubs in England, with five teams from Wales and one from Guernsey also competing. The system has a hierarchical format with promotion and relegation between leagues at different levels, allowing even the smallest club the theoretical possibility of ultimately rising to the very top of the system, although in practice it would take a team at the bottom levels at least two decades of consistently finishing at or near the top of each successive league to reach the top level, and even then additional restrictions, particularly in regard to stadium facilities, would then come into effect at the highest levels that could prevent a club from being allowed access to the top levels. There are more than 140 individual leagues, containing more than 480 divisions.The exact number of clubs varies from year to year as clubs join and leave leagues, fold or merge altogether, but an estimated average of 15 clubs per division implies that more than 7,000 teams of nearly 5,300 clubs are members of a league in the English men's football league system.
As there are no official definitions of any level below 11, any references to the structure at level 12 and below should not be regarded as definitive.
The pyramid for women's football in England runs separately to nine tiers and some England-based men's clubs play outside the English football league system.Football League First Division
The Football League First Division is a former division of The Football League, now known as the English Football League. From 1888 to 1992 it was the top tier division in the English football league system. Following the creation of the FA Premier League it was a second-level division. In 2004 it was rebranded as the Football League Championship, and in 2016 adopted its current name of EFL Championship.Forward (association football)
Forwards are the players on an association football team who play nearest to the opposing team's goal, and are therefore most responsible for scoring goals.
Their advanced position and limited defensive responsibilities mean forwards normally score more goals on behalf of their team than other players.
Modern team formations generally include one to three forwards; for example, the common 4–2–3–1 formation includes one forward. Unconventional formations may include more than three forwards, or none.Midfielder
A midfielder is an association football position. Midfielders are generally positioned on the field between their team's defenders and forwards. Some midfielders play a disciplined defensive role, breaking up attacks, and are otherwise known as defensive midfielders. Others blur the boundaries, being more mobile and efficient in passing: they are commonly referred to as deep-lying midfielders, play-makers, box-to-box, or holding midfielders. The number of midfielders on a team and their assigned roles depends on the team's formation; the collective group of these players on the field is sometimes referred to as the midfield.Most managers assign at least one midfielder to disrupt the opposing team's attacks, while others may be tasked with creating goals, or have equal responsibilities between attack and defence. Midfielders are the players who typically travel the greatest distance during a match. Because midfielders arguably have the most possession during a game they are among the fittest players on the pitch.Scottish Premiership
The Scottish Premiership, known for sponsorship reasons as the Ladbrokes Premiership, is the top division of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), the league competition for men's professional football clubs in Scotland. The Scottish Premiership was established in July 2013, after the SPFL was formed by a merger of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League. There are 12 teams in this division, with each team playing 38 matches per season. Sixteen clubs have played in the Scottish Premiership since its creation in the 2013–14 season. Celtic are the current league champions, being the only league champion to date since its establishment.Southern Football League
The Southern League, currently known as the Evo-Stik League South under the terms of a sponsorship agreement with Bostik Ltd, is a men's football competition featuring semi-professional clubs from the South West, 'South Central' and Midlands of England and South Wales. Together with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League it forms levels seven and eight of the English football league system.
The structure of the Southern League has changed several times since its formation in 1894, and currently there are 84 clubs which are divided into four divisions. The Central and South Divisions are at step 3 of the National League System (NLS), and are feeder divisions, mainly to the National League South but also to the National League North. Feeding the Premier Divisions are two regional divisions, Division One Central and Division One South, which are at step 4 of the NLS. These divisions are in turn fed by various regional leagues.The Football Association
The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of association football in England, the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.
The FA sanctions all competitive football matches within its remit at national level, and indirectly at local level through the county football associations. It runs numerous competitions, the most famous of which is the FA Cup. It is also responsible for appointing the management of the men's, women's, and youth national football teams.
The FA is a member of both UEFA and FIFA and holds a permanent seat on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) which is responsible for the Laws of the Game. As the first football association, it does not use the national name "English" in its title. The FA is based at Wembley Stadium, London. The FA is a member of the British Olympic Association, meaning that the FA has control over the men's and women's Great Britain Olympic football team.All of England's professional football teams are members of the Football Association. Although it does not run the day-to-day operations of the Premier League, it has veto power over the appointment of the League Chairman and Chief Executive and over any changes to league rules. The English Football League, made up of the three fully professional divisions below the Premier League, is self-governing, subject to the FA's sanctions.
|Football codes development tree|
|Stick and ball sports|