What Is Soccer?

Players competing in soccer match

The game of soccer -- more commonly referred to outside the United States as football -- has long been the world’s most popular sport. With origins that date back many centuries, soccer is played by young children, college students and professional soccer players. Amateur clubs and weekend warriors add to the passion that swells up every four years for the most-watched sporting event in the world, the World Cup, which is ran by FIFA.

What is the History of soccer?

Although international football’s governing body, the fédération internationale de football association, recognizes the birth of the modern game as 1863 in England, when association football began. But the deepest origins of the team sport go back centuries. The Han Dynasty in the second century B.C. saw the emergence of a game similar to soccer called tsu' chu. Several centuries after that, the Japanese game Kemari began. Kemari was less competitive, with participants passing the ball from one another using their feet, trying to keep it from touching the ground. Much later, a violent town game emerged called mob football in Europe during the Middle Ages.

What is the Premise and Rules of soccer?

The game of soccer is built around the main scoring action, which is to score goals. Teams move the soccer ball up and down the soccer field in an attempt to kick it within the opponent’s goal, a framework that measures 8 feet in height and 24 feet in width at the professional level. The player guarding the goal, the goalkeeper, is the only player on a team typically allowed to touch the ball with his hands. Except during a throw-in, the other players must use their feet, knees, head and chest to control and advance the ball. A regulation soccer game is played in two 45-minute halves and the soccer team that has the most goals will win the soccer match. If the game is tied, it will likely end in a tie. For important games, extra time will be played with a penalty shootout to be played if the tie is unresolved

What are the dimensions of a soccer field?

Eleven players, including the goalkeeper, are allowed on the field at one time for each team. These players must keep the ball in play on a rectangular field that measures between 100 and 130 yards in length and 50 and 100 yards in width. The builders of an individual stadium or field determine the dimensions for their facility based on how close they want the fans to the field, the style of game -- a smaller field provides greater advantage to the technical, rather than fast, players -- and the attendance capacity they hope to manage.

What are Corner Kicks?

If the ball crosses the goal line -- the line creating the width of the field -- and the defense touches it last, its opponents are allowed a corner kick. On a corner kick, the ball is placed within an arc laid out at one of the two corners on the side where it went out. A player from the offensive team kicks it from there, typically aiming it to an area in front of the goal in the hope that one of his players can deflect it into the goal for a score.

What are Penalty Kicks?

Fouls and penalties committed by one team can lead to penalty kicks for the opposing team. This occurs when a foul is committed inside the penalty area -- anywhere 18 yards and in from the goal line -- and the player suffering the foul receives a penalty kick. For such a kick, the ball is placed 12 yards from the goal line and the fouled player kicks toward the goal, facing the goalkeeper only -- a great chance to score.

What are Free Kicks?

Free kicks occur when a foul is committed -- usually a player tripping or pushing an opponent inside the penalty area. This type of kick does not feature the one-on-one matchup against the goalkeeper. Instead, the opposing team may line its players up no closer than 10 yards from the ball. If the referee determines that the free kick should be a direct free kick, the player taking the free kick may kick the ball in the goal without having it touch another player first. An indirect free kick must touch another player before going in the goal. The type of free kick is determined by the nature of the foul.

What are the major soccer leagues?

There are two categories for soccer leagues, the club leagues and the confederations. Club leagues like the English Premier League, Conmebol, and the UEFA Champions League, see individual owned soccer clubs face off with players from all over the world playing for teams. This is similar to the NFL in American Football. Confederations like the AFC and CONCACAF, see national teams face each other for the right to play in international competitions like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup. Teams are broken up by where they are in the world with Switzerland and Spain playing for Europe’s UEFA, and Japan and China playing for Asia’s AFC.

What are the cards in soccer used for?

Cards in soccer are used to discipline players for any major violations. There are common fouls and things like off-sides that might happen but physical fouls can result in a yellow card. Two yellow cards will result in a red card which causes the ejection of a player and substitutes cannot come in for the player. That player can usually be expected to be suspended by the football association he or she plays for.