Association football, also known as just football, is a popular team sport enjoyed by all sexes with a flat circular ball between two competing teams of eleven players. It is the most popular sport in the world, with over 250 million people playing it in over 200 different countries and dependencies. The game of football can be played with any number of players, either using a field consisting of ninety yards of neutral ground, or playing on a regulation soccer pitch of thirty by forty yards. Each country that has organized football has its own version of the game rules, which have been modified from time to time in an attempt to maintain the exciting, frantic pace of the game without being too exacting. Although it used to be primarily a men’s game, soccer is now a much wider game open to both sexes.
Unlike baseball and basketball, football does not have a designated playing surface; rather, it is played on an “agility” field, with the goal being to kick the ball into the opposite team’s goals using only the feet. Because of this similarity to football, many people mistakenly think that association football can only consist of eleven players on each team. However, because the game is much faster than baseball and basketball, and because of the various rules governing the conduct of the game, the actual count of players on each team may differ slightly from that of a normal football game. Because of this, a standard football field contains between sixty and seventy different players, while an average soccer pitch contains between ninety and one hundred. Because of these differences in the number of players per team, football can be played between any number of players, including referees, substitute players, and even teams.
While football has been a well-known game throughout the world for centuries, it was not until the mid nineteenth century that football became an internationally recognized game. FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations), which is responsible for the staging of the World Cup each year, has long been looking for a way to enhance the quality of play and provide fans with exciting and competitive games. In response, in FIFA’s effort to standardize the rules for football, the World Cup is held every four years, with the first event held in Mexico in the qualification round of the World Cup.