A bomb, especially the type suitable for hurling toward an objective in terrorizing business or in strike breaking.

- american underworld dictionary - 1950
An excellent sport which I played regularly in school, both recreationally and competitively. The objective of the game is to put a round ball into the net and score more goals than the other side.

The game is played on a field that can be as wide as 100 yards and as long as 130 yards. Each team has 11 players, one of whom must be a goalie. Players typically are divided into forwars (strikers), midfielders and defenders. All players except for the goalie must not use any part of their arms in play, the goalie can use all parts of his body. Each game lasts 90 minutes plus injury time, where time lost during stoppages of play are added on (the clock runs continuosly).

Players are not allowed to physically attack other players, you can "tackle" the other player and take the ball, but you can only slide for the ball, not the legs of the other player. You can't elbow, yank on another person's shirt, deliberately kick or push another player. If you possess the ball however, you are allowed to stick your arm out to stop another player's attempts to shove you (you can't shove them however). Infraction of the rules can result in a foul (free kick awarded), yellow card (warning, 2 and you're done), or red card (kicked out of the game, banned from next game).

Football can be boring to watch (but skill is appreciated), but playing in it is very exciting. Nothing beats the satisfaction of successfully executed teamplay or the joy of coring a goal. Penalty shootouts are the most exciting part of any match (if it comes down to that after overtime). At 12 yards, you are given a free shot at scoring with nothing but the goalie in between you and the net. You must judge between choosing for accuracy or power. Accurate shots are usually slower and stopped easier, but if it is toward the top corner the goalie has a very slim chance of getting to it. A powerful shot can miss the goal entirely or go right toward the goalie. But he will have less time to try to block it.

The pinnacle of a football player's career is winning the World Cup, an event held once every 4 years where top international teams try to beat each other. Highlights of the 1998 World Cup include Micheal Owen's amazing solo strike from mid-field past 3 defenders, and the suprise annihilation of Brazil at the hands of France, who won their first World Cup that year.

The "Football" is also the slang name for the briefcase carried by one of the President's flunkies everywhere he goes which contains the launch codes for the United States Nuclear Arsenal. Without these codes, the weapons can't be ordered to be launched.

Any game involving kicking a football. There are many games that are refered to as football, including Soccer, Rugby League, rugby union, touch rugby, Australian Rules and Grid Iron.

The specific rules for football differ depending on your whereabouts. Football is generally used to refer to the most popular game in a given region.

Remember this kids ..... Soccer, Rugby League, rugby union, touch rugby, Australian Rules and Grid Iron are all football.

Football in England is a big sport. Although its mid-90s popularity peak has passed, the game is still an important aspect of many people's lives. A lot of professional football is played, with numerous tournaments, extensive TV coverage (extensive to the point of overreaching itself and collapsing from the financial pressure), and a following of millions. This is an explanation of how it all works.

How is football organised in England?

There are 92 fully professional clubs, ranging from the world-famous - e.g. Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal - to such obscurities as Exeter City and Boston United (from the bustling metropolis of Boston, Lincolnshire). Clubs compete in two main types of competition - league and cup.

League games represent most of the football played in a season, and are the main indicator of a club's level of success. The league system is divided into four divisions - the Premier League at the top, and the First, Second and Third Divisions beneath it. Over the season (lasting August to May), each club plays each other club in its division twice, being awarded three points for a win and one for a draw ("tie"). At any time during the season, if two or more teams are equal on points, goal difference is used to separate them. This is simply the amount of goals scored by a team in its league games minus the goals conceded. If goal difference is equal, the team with more goals takes the higher position.

In the unlikely event that, at the end of the season, two teams have the same amount of points and have scored and conceded the same amount of goals, their positions are decided by a play-off.

Cup tournaments are simple knockout competitions, with clubs randomly drawn to play each other in each round, usually at one club's ground or the other. There is no seeding in English domestic cup competitions, although in most cups, the higher-ranked teams enter sometime after the first round. Cup competitions take up less of a club's time than the league, but that doesn't mean they're not taken seriously.

What trophies do clubs compete for over the course of the season?

The 92 professional clubs are split into four divisions as described above. At the top is the Premier League, currently sponsored by Barclaycard, officially known as the FA Barclaycard Premiership, and holding 20 teams. The team finishing top at the end of the season wins the Championship, the top honour in English domestic football. This team and the teams directly below it (currently three) gain entry to the heroically misnamed Champions League, the biggest European club competition. A certain number of teams below them gain entry to the UEFA Cup, the other major European cup tournament. For both competitions, the exact quota of teams from England is decided each season by UEFA, the European governing body. Meanwhile, the bottom three teams in the Premiership are relegated to the First Division.

Which is, of course, the second highest division. The 72 professional clubs below the Premiership all compete in the Football League, which is a much older body. This consists of 24 clubs each in the First, Second and Third Divisions, which are of course really the second, third and fourth, being below the Premiership. Until 1992 the numbering made sense - the Football League governed all clubs, and the divisions were called One to Four. But around this time the top clubs grew agitated by the lack of money in the game, and football's general nadir in the 1980s, and broke away to form the Premier League. The Football League is currently sponsored by Nationwide building society.

In Divisions One and Two, the top two teams are promoted to the division above. The next four compete for promotion in the playoffs. The bottom three teams are relegated from the First, and the bottom four teams from the Second. This way, the composition of all four divisions changes every year. In Division Three, the top three teams are promoted, and the next four compete in the play-offs for the fourth promotion.

The playoffs work like this: The top and bottom of the four, and the two in the middle, play each other in two-legged semi-finals. The winners of each meet in the final (one-legged), and the winner of that match takes the final promotion place along with the automatically promoted teams.

The bottom two teams in Division Three are relegated to the Conference. This is a division of 22 semi-professional clubs lying somewhere between full-time and amateur football: each season it promotes the top team and one playoff winner to the Third Division. Being relegated to the Conference (also currently sponsored by Nationwide) is an enormous blow for a professional club; in recent years, few teams have returned. Below the Conference, which relegates three teams every season, lies the realm of amateur football.

So what about the cups? The most important is the world-famous FA Cup. In principle, any team in the country can compete. Hundreds of completely obscure amateur sides do so every year, and a few, after an intense round of qualification games, reach the first round of the competition proper. They are joined by the teams from the Second and Third Divisions, and some from the First - all professional clubs qualify automatically. The remaining clubs from the Premiership and First Division join in the third round. The sixth round is the quarter-finals, the seventh the semis, the eighth the final, and the eventual winners gain a place in the UEFA Cup, as well as lots of glory. If they have already have a UEFA Cup place by virtue of their league position, they assume the FA Cup berth and the league berth for the UEFA Cup passes to the league team below them. FA Cup matches are one-legged, taking place at one of the team's home grounds, except the neutrally-venued final and semi-finals. Draws are settled first by replays, then extra time, then penalties.

The second most important cup is the League Cup, known colloquially by whoever happens to be sponsoring it (currently brewers Carling). Previous sponsors have included Coca-Cola and Worthington. The League Cup is open only to the 92 league sides and is much newer than the FA Cup. In principle the two are equally difficult, but the League Cup is less prestigious. The winner gains a place in the UEFA Cup, although this has long been a matter of dispute. Games in this competition are two-legged (except for the final), and draws are settled by extra time and then penalties.

In domestic football, the only other notable cup competition is a corporate-sponsored trophy (currently known as the LDV Vans Trophy), competed for the by the teams in the Second and Third Divisions. It's a reasonably big deal for the clubs involved, as the final involves a big day out (currently at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium) and prize money for the winners.

These competitions cover all of the notable domestic football played in a season by the professional clubs. Ultimately, how good a club is will be judged in terms of its league position. The top Premiership clubs, such as Manchester United and Arsenal, are multimillion-pound businesses with superstar players. The lower Premiership clubs, e.g. Southampton, are fairly famous among the general public but not at such a high level. level. Players in the Football League, although they may be heroes to a few fanatical locals, are more or less low-profile.


Links:

http://www.4thegame.com - Barclaycard's official Premier League site.
http://www.football-league.co.uk - The Football League's official site.
http://www.nationwide.co.uk/football - Nationwide's Football League page.
http://www.soccerbase.com - An excellent resource for data on football in England and other countries.
http://www.thefa.com - English football's governing body, the Football Association.

Every so often, the Land of Hope and Glory is swept with a wave of peace, harmony, brotherhood and goodwill to men. People find themselves talking to complete strangers; black children are playing with white children, Muslims and Jews are peacefully co-existing. All around me, people are friendly and cheerful; united by a common cause.

Football.

"Soccer" to everyone else, but that isn't the point. It isn't the Second Coming, it isn't sudden nation-wide spiritual enlightenment. It's a bunch of guys in shorts, kicking a ball into a net.

Don't get me wrong. I like football. I watch it when it's on TV, I even cheer sometimes. I recognise, however, that it's only a game. Football shouldn't have the power to temporarily suspend racism and animosity between countrymen. However, football means a lot to the English. And what's the problem, you ask, when the only effect is to unite a nation?

Well, there's the other side of the coin. While uniting countrymen, football (and the other major sports, I'm sure; football is just my handy example) has the unfortunate effect of inducing a sort of xenophobia in fans and may even awaken the old grudges. A random person in a shop today told me that he hoped the English team got to play Germany again; his response, when I asked why, was: "To get them back for what they did in the war!"

No, those were the Nazis.

There is still a certain restlessness noticeable in English fans when England plays Germany. This is why the 1966 World Cup Final (when England beat Germany 4-2) is still the proudest moment of many people's lives. This is also why England fans cheer extra hard when their team is playing Argentina, or even France. Yes, apparently some people still hold a grudge about 1066.

This isn't a bash at football. This is about a sport having the power to unite countrymen and demonise foreigners. The reason for it? Well, we haven't had a good war in a long time. People still need to feel that their country is the best, the most powerful; if not by marching over other nations, by trouncing them in a game of footie. Soon, the moment will have passed, and the world will return to normal; countrymen can return to bickering amongst themselves and identifying petty differences as reasons for discrimination, and the Germans will be the friendly Europeans again.

It's only a game.

How to Play Football

The Field

Football, or soccer as it is sometimes know, is played on a field measuring 90 to 120 meters in length (100 to 110 m for international competition) and 45 to 90 meters in width (64 to 75 for international). At each end is centered a goal, consisting of vertical poles connected by a horizontal crossbar at their top. The insides of the poles (goal posts) are a distance of 7.32 meters, or 8 yards, apart, while the crossbar is 2.44 m or 8 feet from the ground.

The necessary pitch is actually quite simple: the field is painted or otherwise marked with lines up to 12 cm thick. Below are the standard lines for a soccer field, with the required lines in bold:
the two shorter boundary lines, known as goal lines
the two longer boundary lines, known as touch lines
a halfway line
a center mark, with...
a circle of radius 9.15 m = 10 yards around it
a goal area, also known as a six, around each goal, consisting of a box bounded by two 6-yard lines drawn perpendicularly from the goal line 6 yards (5.5 m) from each goal post, and the horizontal line connecting them.
a penalty area, around each goal area, consisting of a box bounded by two 18-yard lines drawn perpendicularly from the goal line 18 (16.5 m) from each goal post, and the horizontal line connecting them.
a penalty mark located 12 yards (=11 m) perpendicularly from the center of the goal. This can be scraped into the field by the referree, if necessary
a penalty arc, consisting of the portion of a 10-meter-in-radius circle about the penalty mark that lies outside the penalty area
a corner arc, or quarter circle of radius 1 yard, drawn in each corner of the field.

Equipment

Ideally, all the above lines are on the field, and it is of appropriate dimensions. In addition, however, certain equipment is necessary.

The goals must be anchored to the ground properly, so as to withstand the impacts of players and balls striking them.
Each goal must be equipped with a net, secured to the crossbar and goal posts. This is merely to help the referree determine when a ball crossing the goal line is a goal, and when it is out of bounds.
Positioned in each corner should be corner flags, each of at least 5 feet in height.
The ball must be spherical, made of suitable material, inflated to a pressure of .6-1.1 atmospheres (8.5 - 15.6 lb/sq. in.), of 68-70 cm in circumference, and of 410 - 450 grams in weight at the start of the match. Should the ball burst or otherwise become defective during the match, a new ball should be obtained and restarted by a drop ball (see Restarting Play) at the point where the ball became defective.

In addition to the field, each player should have certain equipment. Players should wear cleats, or shoes with spikes on the soles, prefereably made of plastic and not metal. For protection, mouthguards and shinguards are also recommended.

The Teams

Each team consists of 11 players, one of which is a goalkeeper. A minimum of seven players are required for each team in order for the match to begin. In official competition, each team is limitted to three designated substitutes.

The standard positions are forwards, consisting of wings and strikers, midfields, and defenders, consisting of wings, stoppers and/or sweepers, plus a keeper. The 10 non-keepers are split up among the positions according to the coach's discretion.

The Match

The regulation soccer match is 90 minutes in length, consisting of two forty-five minute halves. Between the halves is a halftime of approximately five minutes.

In competition play, when the score is tied after regulation time is up, several steps are taken. First, stoppage time is added, obstensibly to make up for the several minutes of time taken up between plays. After this, two five-minute overtime periods are conducted, after which the teams begin a Penalty Shootout. Should all this fail to break the tie, the teams begin a short Sudden Death period, after which the game is declared an official draw.

Stoppage of Play

Play stops when one of the following occurs:

A goal is scored
The ball goes out of bounds, but a goal is not scored
An infraction occurs
The ball becomes defective
A player is injured

Substitutions

A team may substitute one of their extra players for a player on the field when...
...that player is injured and needs to be replaced
...that team is taking a throw-in
...either team is taking a goal kick

Each team may make two such substitutions per half, although since there are only three subs and players may not reenter the game once substituted, a team may not use all four opportunities. The exception is substitution for injuries, which is free for that team. However, the ref must give the other team a free substitution at the same time, if that team desires it.

Restarting Play

Play is restarted after a stoppage in one of several ways. When a new half begins, or a goal is scored, play restarts with a kickoff. At the beginning of the match one team is randomly chosen to kick off, while the other will do so in the second half. When a goal is scored, the team on which it was scored takes the kickoff. A kickoff consists of one player on the kicking team moving the ball forward on the referree's signal. Until this, the opposing team may not enter the center circle. After the ball has been moved forward, however, it is fair game.

The Second restart is the throw-in, which occurs when one team propels the ball across a touch line. The other team selects a player to throw the ball in bounds. This must be done with two hands on the ball, with the ball thrown over the thrower's head. In addition, at the time the ball is released, both of the thrower's feet must be on the ground.

Another restart is the goal kick, occuring when a team propels the ball across the opposing goal line, but does not score a goal. One player on the other team positions the ball anywhere within the goal area and kicks it. The only limitation is that it must leave the penalty area before it is played.

When a team propels the ball across their own goal line, the other team restarts the ball with a corner kick in the corner closest to where the ball left play. The team taking the kick places the ball anywhere within the appropriate corner arc and kicks it. This is often a prime goal-scoring opportunity for the kicking team.

The remaining restarts occur only after a player commits an infraction, and vary depending on the severity. For minor infringements of the Laws of the Game, the ball is restarted with an Indirect Free Kick. Examples of such infractions are Offsides, passing to the keeper, dangerous play, and more. In these cases, a free kick is taken by the opposing team from the location of the offense, but this kick may not result in a goal before it is touched by another player. For more serious offenses, committed in a manner deemed to be careless, reckless, or using excessive force, a Direct Free Kick is issued. Examples include handballs and pushing, tripping, or charging an opponent. A Direct Free Kick is taken from the location of the infraction, unless it occurs within the opponent's goal area, in which case it is taken from the six-yard line. In this case, the kicking team is allowed to score on the initial kick.

Finally, when a team commits an offense within their own penalty area, their opponents are rewarded a penalty kick. This is taken from the penalty mark, and only the kicker and the keeper may be in the penalty area until the ball is kicked. In addition, all players must be 10 yards away from the kickers, which is to say, outside the penalty arc. While the kicker shoots, the keeper may not leave the goal line, and must therefore commit to diving either one way or the other. If he or she guesses correctly, he has a chance of blocking the shot, while if not, it is almost certainly a goal.

Offsides

Offsides is one of the most difficult rules of soccer for a non-player to understand, because it requires an instinct for the locations of players on the field. Basically, a player is in an offsides position when he or she is beyond the offsides line, determined by the ball, the halfway line, or the second-last defender, whichever is closest to the defenders' goal. This in itself is not an infraction. However, the defending team is awarded an Indirect Free Kick for an Offsides Violation whenever an attacking player derives strategic benefit from being in an offsides position. This usually takes the form of receiving a pass which was sent while the player was in an offsides position, although other situations arise quite often. However, if you are in an onsides position when a ball is kicked but run to an offsides position to receive it, there is no violation! Thus, Offsides is a very difficult rule to call, and linesmen are often employed to assist the ref in this area.

Infractions

When a player breaks the Laws of the Game, the Referree takes certain action depending on the severity of the offense. Most offenses merely receive verbal warning. However, a player may be officially Cautioned and shown a Yellow Card for...
...dissent
...persistent infringement
...unsporting conduct
...delay of game
...failure to respect and acknowledge the referree
...and MORE!

When a player commits a second Cautionable Offense, that is, after he has already been shown a Yellow Card, or when he or she commits a Sending-Off Offsense, he or she is ejected from the game and shown a Red Card. Sending-Off offenses include...
...serious foul play
...spitting
...swearing
...denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by breaking the Laws of the Game
...violent conduct...
...and more

When a player is sent off, his team must play with one fewer players for the remainder of the match.

Officials

To enforce the Laws of the Game, each match is officiated by a referree. This official is usually equipped with a whistle with which to stop play, and is generally given complete power over the players and coaches involved in the match. To Assist the ref, there are generally appointed two linesmen who make out-of-bounds calls and Offsides calls. In addition, some matches have a Fourth official to further help the ref.

Final Thoughts

It is impossible for one writeup to do justice the entire game of Soccer/Football. However, hopefully this has introduced you to the basic rules and regulations of the sport.

Source:
FIFA's (Federation Internationale de Football Association) Laws of the Game, available online at http://www.fifa.com/handbook/laws/2002/LOTG2002_E.pdf.

Adrenaline and hatred
Ninety minutes at a time.
Where losing possesion
Is the only crime.
Justice is dealt in
Yellow and red.
And the two types of people
Are the quick and the dead.
Broken promises run through
At the top of the 18.
And on the other side of the chalk
The ball goes-men cry-fans scream.

The football (soccer ball) is a unique-looking piece of sporting equipment. Instantly recognizable even to someone who don't know what a yellow card is, the football itself is a black-and-white pattern of geometric shapes inflated into a sphere. Upon closer inspection, one can see it's a mixture of white hexagons surrounding black pentagons. Why not just use all the same shape? Ask Plato.

The Greek philosopher Plato gave his name to the platonic solids, familiar to gamers as the standard set of gaming dice. They are the only three-dimensional shapes that have sides made of regular polygons, and are therefore useful as "fair" dice, that is, dice that have an equal chance of landing on any side. These shapes are the 4-sided tetrahedron (triangles), the 6-sided cube (squares), the 8-sided octahedron (triangles), the 12-sided dodecahedron (pentagons), and the 20-sided icosahedron (triangles). Hexagons, sadly, cannot form a platonic solid, and 10-sided dice are not platonic solids.

While it might make sense to build a football out of a dodecahedron, the more sides the polyhedron has, the closer it represents a true sphere and the less strain there is on the stitching and leather when inflated. A football is actually an icosahedron. Granted, it doesn't look like it's made of triangles, but that's because the triangles have been combined into groups of five and six: pentagons and hexagons.

If you unfold an icosahedron, the twenty triangles that comprise it look like this:

   /\      /\      /\      /\      /\
  /  \    /  \    /  \    /  \    /  \
 /    \  /    \  /    \  /    \  /    \     unfolded
/______\/______\/______\/______\/______\    icosahedron
\      /\      /\      /\      /\      /\   20 equilateral
 \    /  \    /  \    /  \    /  \    /  \  triangles
  \  /    \  /    \  /    \  /    \  /    \
   \/______\/______\/______\/______\/______\
    \      /\      /\      /\      /\      /
     \    /  \    /  \    /  \    /  \    /
      \  /    \  /    \  /    \  /    \  /
       \/      \/      \/      \/      \/

Notice that each vertex of each triangle, when folded up, is connected to exactly five triangles. This is obvious in the middle rows. The top and bottom rows are made of five triangles each, so when they are folded together, these tips will join five triangles together.

If we split each of these triangles up into 9 triangles, we get the following:

     /\
    /__\
   /\  /\   triangle split
  /__\/__\  into more triangles
 /\  /\  /\
/__\/__\/__\

Now erase the six lines in the middle to combine those six triangles into a hexagon:

     /\
    /__\
   /    \   hexagon inscribed
  /      \  in a triangle
 /\      /\
/__\____/__\

This leaves three small triangles at the corners. Since each corner connects five triangles, when the icosahedron is folded up, these triangles will form pentagons. It's interesting to note that the hexagons and pentagons are therefore all made of equally sized triangles, which is why the pentagons are slightly smaller.

There are twenty triangles, so there are twenty hexagons around a football. It's a bit trickier to count the pentagons, but there's one at the top, one at the bottom, and ten across the middle (two rows of five, and remember the left and right sides join to make two, not four, pentagons) for a total of twelve pentagons. Twenty hexagons plus twelve pentagons is thirty-two total panels.

Paint the pentagons black, and the hexagons white, and you've got a football!

Foot"ball` (?), n.

An inflated ball to be kicked in sport, usually made in India rubber, or a bladder incased in Leather.

Waller.

2.

The game of kicking the football by opposing parties of players between goals.

Arbuthnot.

 

© Webster 1913.

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