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Football, also known as association football or soccer, is a team sport in which two teams of 11 players compete to manoeuvre the ball into the opposing team’s goal by using any part of their bodies except their hands and arms. Only the goalkeeper is permitted to handle the ball, and he or she is only permitted to do so within the penalty area surrounding the goal itself. The winning team is the one that scores the most goals.

Infancy and adolescence

The sport of modern football originated in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. Historically, “folk football” games have been played in towns and villages according to local customs and with the bare minimum of rules since well before the Middle Ages. Because industrialization and urbanisation reduced the amount of leisure time and space available to working class people, combined with a history of legal prohibitions against particularly violent and destructive forms of folk football, the game’s status began to deteriorate in the early nineteenth century and has continued to this day to deteriorate. Football, on the other hand, was adopted as a winter sport between residence houses at public (independent) schools such as Winchester, Charterhouse, and Eton. Each school had its own set of rules; some permitted only limited handling of the ball, while others did not allow it at all. Because of the disparity in rules, it was difficult for public schoolboys who went on to college to continue playing with anyone other than their former schoolmates. At the University of Cambridge, an attempt was made as early as 1843 to standardise and codify the rules of play. In 1848, the university’s students joined the majority of public schools in adopting these “Cambridge rules,” which were then further spread by Cambridge graduates who formed football clubs across the country. During a series of meetings involving clubs from metropolitan London and surrounding counties, the printed rules of football were developed, which forbade the ball from being carried. As a result, rugby was excluded from the newly formed Football Association because of its “handling” game (FA). Indeed, the Football Association (FA) prohibited all handling of the ball, with the exception of goalkeepers, by 1870.


The development of modern football in Victorian Britain was intimately linked to the processes of industrialization and urbanisation at the time. Badger-baiting and other traditional bucolic pastimes were gradually abandoned by the majority of the new working-class residents of Britain’s industrial towns and cities as they looked for more modern sources of communal recreation. The number of industrial workers who had Saturday afternoons off work increased steadily from the 1850s onward, and as a result, many of them turned to the newly invented sport of football to watch or participate in it. The formation of recreational football teams by key urban institutions such as churches, trade unions, and schools helped to organise working-class boys and men. Adult literacy was increasing, which prompted more coverage of organised sports in the press, while transportation systems such as railroads and urban trams made it possible for players and spectators alike to travel to football games. During the first decade of the twentieth century, the average attendance in England increased from 4,600 in 1888 to 7,900 in 1895, then to 13,200 in 1905 and 23,100 at the outbreak of World War I. Football’s popularity has eroded interest in other sports, particularly cricket, among the general public.