Football, commonly known as association football or soccer, is a sport in which two teams of 11 players attempt to advance the ball into the goal of the other team by using any part of their body other than their hands and arms. Only the goalie is allowed to handle the ball, and only within the area surrounding the goal is designated as the penalty area. The team with the most goals scored wins.
According to the number of players and spectators, football is the most watched sport in the world. The mark may be played practically everywhere, from official football playing fields (pitches) to gymnasiums, streets, school playgrounds, parks, or beaches, thanks to its basic rules and necessary equipment. A combined television audience of more than 26 billion people watched football’s premier competition, the quadrennial month-long World Cup finals, in 2010. According to FIFA, approximately 250 million football players and over 1.3 billion “interested” in the sport at the turn of the twenty-first century.
In Victorian Britain, the processes of industry and urbanization were directly related to the growth of modern football. Most of the new working-class residents of Britain’s industrial towns and cities gradually stopped participating in ancient rural pleasures like badger-baiting. It sought out new types of communal recreation. With an increase in the likelihood that industrial employees would have Saturdays off starting in the 1850s, many of them began to watch or participate in the new sport of football. Important urban institutions like churches, unions, and schools formed football leagues for working-class boys and men. Growing adult literacy encouraged the media to cover organized sports, while transportation infrastructure like railroads and urban trams made it possible for players and spectators to get to football games. In England, the average attendance increased from 4,600 in 1888 to 7,900 in 1895, 13,200 in 1905, and 23,100 at the start of World War I. The success of football lowered public interest in other sports, particularly cricket.
A global organization
Early in the 20th century, football had become famous throughout Europe but still lacked an international governing body. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association was established in 1904 by representatives from the football organizations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland (FIFA).