1 any of various games played with a ball (round or oval) in which two teams try to kick or carry or propel the ball into each other's goal [syn: football game]
2 the inflated oblong ball used in playing American football
- In the context of "UK|uncountable": A game in which two teams of eleven players each contend to get a
round ball into the other team's goal primarily by kicking the ball with their
feet. In amateur games it
may be a team of five or six, or indeed any number.
- Each team scored three goals when they played football.
- In the context of "US|fb|uncountable": A game similar to rugby
football in which two teams attempt to get an ovoid ball to the end of each
- Each team scored two touchdowns when they played football.
- In the context of "Canada|uncountable": Canadian
football. A game played
on a wide field in which two teams attempt to get an ovoid ball to the end of each
- They played football in the snow.
- Australian rules football.
- In the context of "Australia|New South Wales|Queensland|uncountable": Rugby League.
- In the context of "Australia|uncountable": Term occasionally used to refer to the same game as the British definition (association football), though the official name in Australia is "soccer".
- The ball used in any game called "football".
- The player kicked the football.
- Practise of these particular games, or techniques used in them.
- In the context of "metaphorical": An item of discussion,
particularly in a back-and-forth manner
- That budget item became a political football.''
- In the context of "Ireland": A field game played with similar rules to hurling, but using hands and feet rather than a stick, and a ball, similar to, yet smaller than a soccer ball.
- The nickname of the leather briefcase containing classified nuclear war plans, which is always near the US President.
- i British American football, i Australian gridiron, gridiron football
- i outside Canada Canadian football
- footy, Aussie Rules, VFL (outdated), AFL
- footy, league
- i-c ball
- American football
- arena football
- Australian rules football
- Barbarian football
- blow football
- Canadian flag football
- Canadian football
- Gaelic football
- five-a-side football
- flag football
- football hooligan
- football match
- football player
- gridiron football
- table football
- touch football
- tackle football
- Arabic: (kórat al-qádam)
- Bosnian: fudbal, nogomet
- Catalan: futbol
- Chinese: 足球 (zúqiú)
- Croatian: nogomet, fudbal
- Czech: fotbal , kopaná
- Danish: fodbold
- Dutch: voetbal
- Esperanto: futbalo
- Estonian: jalgpall
- Finnish: jalkapallo
- French: football , foot , soccer italbrac Canada
- German: Fußball , Fussball italbrac Switzerland
- Greek: ποδόσφαιρο
- Hebrew: כדורגל (kaduregel)
- Hungarian: labdarúgás, foci
- Indonesian: sepak bola
- Interlingua: football
- Irish: peil
- Italian: calcio
- Japanese: サッカー
- Korean: 축구 (chukgu)
- Latvian: futbols
- Malay: bola sepak
- Maltese: futbol
- Persian: فوتبال
- Polish: piłka nożna
- Portuguese: futebol
- Russian: футбол
- Scots: fitbaw
- Slovak: futbal
- Slovene: nogomet
- Spanish: fútbol , futbol italbrac Mexico, balompié
- Swedish: fotboll
- Thai: (fóot-bon)
- Turkish: futbol
- Ukrainian: футбол, сокер, копаний м’яч
- Welsh: pêl-droed
- West Frisian: fuotbal
- Arabic: (kórat al-qádam al-’amrikaníyya)
- Catalan: futbol americà
- Chinese: 橄榄球 (gǎnlǎnqiú)
- Croatian: američki nogomet
- Czech: americký fotbal
- Danish: amerikansk fodbold
- Dutch: rugby , Amerikaans voetbal
- Estonian: ameerika jalgpall
- Finnish: amerikkalainen jalkapallo, jenkkifutis
- German: American Football
- Greek: αμερικανικό ποδόσφαιρο (amerikanikó podósfero)
- Hebrew: פוטבול אמריקאי (football amerikai)
- Hungarian: amerikai foci
- Italian: football americano
- Japanese: フットボール (futtobōru)
- Korean: 미식축구 (misik chukgu)
- Latvian: amerikāņu futbols
- Maltese: futbol Amerikan
- Polish: futbol , futbol amerykański
- Portuguese: futebol americano
- Slovak: americký futbal
- Slovene: ameriški nogomet
- Spanish: fútbol americano ; fútbol estadounidense
- Swedish: amerikansk fotboll
- Thai: (àmayrígan fóot-bon)
- Turkish: amerikan futbolu
- Ukrainian: американський футбол
- West Frisian: Rugby
in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia
in New South Wales, Queensland
- Danish: rugby
- Catalan: pilota de futbol , pilota
- Croatian: nogometna lopta
- Czech: (fotbalový) míč
- Danish: fodbold
- Dutch: voetbal
- French: ballon de foot , ballon
- West Frisian: bal
- Hungarian: focilabda
- Italian: pallone , palla da calcio , palla , pallone da calcio
- Korean: 축구공 (chukgugong)
- Maltese: ballun
- Portuguese: bola de futebol
- Scots: fitbaw
- Slovak: futbalová lopta
- Slovene: nogometna žoga
- Swedish: fotboll
- Turkish: futbol topu
practise of any of these games
Translations to be checked
- /fut.bɔl/, /fut.bOl/
Football is the name given to a number of different team sports, all of which involve (to varying degrees) kicking a ball with the foot in an attempt to score a goal. The most popular of these sports world-wide is association football, also known as soccer and most commonly just football. The English language word "football" is also applied to gridiron football (which includes American football and Canadian football), Australian rules football, Gaelic football, rugby football (rugby league and rugby union), and related games. Each of these codes (specific sets of rules, or the games defined by them) is referred to as "football".
These games involve:
- two teams of between 11 and 18 players
- kicking a spherical or prolate spheroid ball (which is itself called a football) with the foot;
- a clearly defined area in which to keep the ball;
- scoring goals and/or points, by moving the ball to an opposing team's end of the field and either into a goal area, or over a line;
- the goal and/or line being defended by the opposing team;
- players being required to move the ball—depending on the code—by kicking, carrying and/or hand passing the ball;
- goals and/or points resulting from players putting the ball between two goalposts and;
- penalties imposed for causing the ball to leave the area of play, or excessive contact with the opposing team.
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. Other features common to several football codes include: points being mostly scored by players carrying the ball across the goal line and; players receiving a free kick after they take a mark/make a fair catch.
Peoples from around the world have played games which involved kicking and/or carrying a ball, since ancient times. However, most of the modern codes of football have their origins in Europe.
EtymologyWhile it is widely believed that the word "football" (or "foot ball") originated in reference to the action of a foot kicking a ball, there is a rival explanation, which has it that football originally referred to a variety of games in medieval Europe, which were played on foot. These games were usually played by peasants, as opposed to the horse-riding sports often played by aristocrats. While there is no conclusive evidence for this explanation, the word football has always implied a variety of games played on foot, not just those that involved kicking a ball. In some cases, the word football has even been applied to games which have specifically outlawed kicking the ball.
Ancient gamesDocumented evidence of what is possibly the oldest activity resembling football can be found in a Chinese military manual written during the Warring States Period in about the 476 BC–221 BC. It describes a practice known as cuju (蹴鞠, literally "kick ball"), which originally involved kicking a leather ball through a hole in a piece of silk cloth strung between two poles. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), cuju games were standardized and rules were established. Variations of this game later spread to Japan and Korea, known as kemari and chuk-guk respectively. By the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618–907), the feather-stuffed ball was replaced by an air-filled ball and cuju games had become professionalized, with many players making a living playing cuju. Also, two different types of goal posts emerged: One was made by setting up posts with a net between them and the other consisted of just one goal post in the middle of the field.
The Japanese version of cuju is kemari (蹴鞠), and was adopted during the Asuka period from the Chinese. 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 game appears to have died out sometime before the mid-19th century. It was revived in 1903 and is now played at a number of festivals.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have played many ball games some of which involved the use of the feet. The Roman writer Cicero describes the case of a man who was killed whilst having a shave when a ball was kicked into a barber's shop. The Roman game harpastum is believed to have been adapted from a team game known as "επισκυρος" (episkyros) or phaininda that is mentioned by Greek playwright, Antiphanes (388–311 BC) and later referred to by Clement of Alexandria. These games appears to have resembled rugby.
There are a number of references to traditional, ancient, and/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 of the Jamestown settlement, Virginia recorded a game played by Native Americans, called Pahsaheman. In Victoria, Australia, indigenous people played a game called Marn Grook ("ball game"). An 1878 book by Robert Brough-Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria, quotes a man called Richard Thomas as saying, in about 1841, 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." It is widely believed that Marn Grook had an influence on the development of Australian rules football (see below).
Games played in Central America 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 since their influence on modern football games is minimal, most do not class them as football.
These games and others may well go far back into antiquity and may have influenced later football games. However, the main sources of modern football codes appear to lie in western Europe, especially the British Isles.
Medieval and early modern Europesee Medieval football The Middle Ages saw a huge rise in popularity of annual Shrovetide football matches throughout Europe, particularly in England. The game played in England at this time may have arrived with the Roman occupation, but there is little evidence to indicate this. Reports of a game played in Brittany, Normandy, and Picardy, known as La Soule or Choule, suggest that some of these football games could have arrived in England as a result of the Norman Conquest. These forms of football, 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 in a heaving mass of people, struggling to move an item such as an inflated pig's bladder, to particular geographical points, such as their opponents' church. Shrovetide games have survived into the modern era in a number of English towns (see below).
The first detailed description of 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.
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.
The earliest mention of a ball game that involves kicking was in 1321, in Shouldham, Norfolk: "[d]uring the game at ball as he kicked the ball, a lay friend of his... ran against him and wounded himself".
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.
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 field, stating that: "[t]he boundaries have been marked and the game had started.
- women playing a form of football was in 1580, when Sir Philip Sidney described it in one of his poems: "[a] tyme there is for all, my mother often sayes, When she, with skirts tuckt very hy, with girles at football playes."
- the first references to goals are in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. In 1584 and 1602 respectively, John Norden and Richard Carew referred to "goals" in Cornish hurling. Carew described how goals were made: "they pitch two bushes in the ground, some eight or ten foote asunder; and directly against them, ten or twelue [twelve] score off, other twayne in like distance, which they terme their Goales". He is also the first to describe goalkeepers and passing of the ball between players.
- the first direct reference to scoring a goal is in John Day's play The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green (performed circa 1600; published 1659): "I'll play a gole at camp-ball" (an extremely violent variety of football, which was popular in East Anglia). Similarly in a poem in 1613, Michael Drayton refers to "when the Ball to throw, And drive it to the Gole, in squadrons forth they goe".
Calcio FiorentinoIn 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 della Novere or 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).
Official disapproval and attempts to ban footballNumerous attempts have been made to ban football games, particularly the most rowdy and disruptive forms. This was especially the case in England and in other parts of Europe, during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Between 1324 and 1667, football was banned in England alone by more than 30 royal and local laws. The need to repeatedly proclaim such laws demonstrated the difficulty in enforcing bans on popular games. King Edward II was so troubled by the unruliness of football in London that on April 13, 1314 he issued a proclamation banning it: "Forasmuch as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls from which many evils may 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."
The reasons for the ban by Edward III, on June 12, 1349, were explicit: football and other recreations distracted the populace from practicing archery, which was necessary for war.
By 1608, the local authorities in Manchester were complaining that: "With the ffotebale...[there] hath beene greate disorder in our towne of Manchester we are told, and glasse windowes broken yearlye and spoyled by a companie of lewd and disordered persons ..." That same year, the word "football" was used disapprovingly by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare's play King Lear contains the line: "Nor tripped neither, you base football player" (Act I, Scene 4). Shakespeare also mentions the game in A Comedy of Errors (Act II, Scene 1):
- Am I so round with you as you with me,
- That like a football you do spurn me thus?
- You spurn me hence, and he will spurn me hither:
- If I last in this service, you must case me in leather.
- That like a football you do spurn me thus?
King James I of England's Book of Sports (1618) however, instructs Christians to play at football every Sunday afternoon after worship. The book's aim appears to be an attempt to offset the strictness of the Puritans regarding the keeping of the Sabbath.
Establishment of modern codes
English public schoolsWhile football continued to be played in various forms throughout Britain, its public schools (known as 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 Horman in 1519. Horman 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 Sutton Coldfield School, 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 also 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 the each school, as is shown by the rules of football from Winchester, Rugby, Harrow and Cheltenham, during in the period of 1810–1850. , 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.
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 public school games below).
The first clubsDuring this period, the Rugby school rules appear to have spread at least as far, perhaps further, than the other schools' codes. For example, two clubs which claim to be the world's first and/or oldest football club, in the sense of a club which is not part of a school or university, are strongholds of rugby football: the Barnes Club, said to have been founded in 1839, and Guy's Hospital Football Club, in 1843. Neither date nor the variety of football played is well-documented, but such claims nevertheless allude to the popularity of rugby before other modern codes emerged.
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. For instance, Dublin University Football Club — founded at Trinity College, Dublin in 1854 and later famous as a bastion of the Rugby School game — is the world's oldest documented football club in any code.
Cambridge rulesIn 1848, at Cambridge University, Mr. H. de Winton and Mr. 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 for a player to take a clean catch 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).
The first modern ballsThe invention of Australian rules football is usually attributed to Tom Wills, who published a letter in Bell's Life in Victoria & Sporting Chronicle, on July 10, 1858, calling for a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter. (Official sources which include Wills' cousin, H.C.A. Harrison, as a founder of the code are now generally believed to be incorrect.)
Wills had been educated in England, at Rugby School and had played cricket for Cambridge University. The extent to which he was influenced by the various British and Irish football games is a matter of controversy, but there were similarities between some of them and his game. Australian football also has some similarities to the Australian Aboriginal game of Marn Grook (see above), which he reportedly witnessed as a child in western Victoria.
On July 31, 1858, Wills and people responding to his letter met and experimented with various forms of football. On August 7, Wills was one of the umpires at a game between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, which took place under modified Rugby School rules. A free kick was awarded for a mark (clean catch). Running while holding the ball was allowed and although it was not specified in the rules, a rugby ball was used. The club shared many members with the Melbourne Cricket Club, which was based at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and cricket ovals — which vary in size and are much larger than the fields used in other forms of football — became the standard playing field for Australian rules. The 1859 rules did not include some elements which would soon become important to the game, such as the requirement to bounce the ball while running.
Australian rules is sometimes said to be the first form of football to be codified but, as was the case in all kinds of football at the time, there was no official body supporting the rules, and play varied from one club to another. By 1866, however, several other clubs in the Colony of Victoria had agreed to play an updated version of the Melbourne FC rules, which were later known as "Victorian Rules" and "Australasian Rules". The formal name of the code later became Australian rules football (and, more recently, Australian football). By the end of the 19th century, the code had spread to the other Australian colonies and other parts of the world. However, rugby football would remain more popular in New South Wales and Queensland.
The Football Association
- Main article: History of The Football Association
At the Freemason's Tavern, Great Queen Street, London on the evening of October 26, 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. W. Campbell, the representative from Blackheath and the first FA treasurer, objected. He said: "hacking is the true football". However, the motion to ban 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 football (later known in some countries as soccer).
The first FA rules still contained elements that are no longer part of association football, but which are still recognisable in other games (most notably Australian 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 in front of the goal line.