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SOCCER

ORIGINS 

  • 2,500 years ago, a game called Tsu Chu took place in China. A similar game was played by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who played with a larger ball. Both these were early forms of association football, where the ball is kicked or headed and not handled.

  • The game’s governing body FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football, was formed in Paris, France, in 1904.

  • The World Cup, played for in geographical divisions throughout the world before culminating in the final rounds in a chosen country, is called the Jules Rimet Cup after the man who became president of FIFA in 1918. It started in 1930.


SPACE REQUIRED

  • A soccer pitch can be 50 to 100 yards wide and 100 to 130 yards long. It is marked out with white lines. At each end of the pitch there is a goal 8 yards wide and 8 feet high, and a 20 x 6 yard goal area. A halfway line divides the pitch into two and at the centre of this is a marked spot. A flag stands at each corner of the pitch.


PLAYING APPARATUS

  • Players wear boots with studs on their soles not less than half an inch across, and no longer than three quarters of an inch. For very hard or artificial surfaces, moulded studs often suffice, even flat training shoes.

  • Shirts, shorts and socks, reflecting a particular team’s colours are worn, with the goalkeeper usually in a green sweater, although since the worldwide spread of sponsors goalkeepers’ sweaters have gone colour mad!

  • The goalie also wears a specially made gloves so that he can grip the ball and protect his fingers; a cap is optional but useful if there is bright sunshine.

  • The ball is spherical with a circumference of 27 to 28 inches. At the start of the game it must weigh


RULES AND REGULATIONS

  • Soccer, played between two teams of 11, has three substitutes including a goalkeeper. The aim of the game is to score goals between the posts a particular team is attacking. The ball can be kicked or headed but is not to be touched by hand, except by the goalkeeper or if the ball goes out on the side lines, when it is thrown in by an on-field player.

  • Each game is divided into halves of 45 minutes each. In a knock-out Cup competition, 15 minutes extra time each way is added, if the scores are even at full time. If there is still no result, then there is a penalty shoot-out to decide. The penalty spot is 12 yards from the centre of each goal. When a penalty is taken all players apart from the taker of the kick and the goalkeeper must be out of the area. The team that scores the most penalties wins the game.


RECORDS SET IN THE GAME

  • Uruguay won the first World Cup in 1930. In Latin America the game has become more than just a sport: Brazil, who have been to the finals of the World Cup more than any other team, have a following of hundreds of thousands. When teams are playing, the whole township come to a halt.

  • It was a Brazilian player known simply as Pele who was rated the greatest player the game has ever produced. By the age of 16 he was a first-team player for Santos in Brazil, and did not retire until 1977 – by which he has scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 first-class games. He played 111 times for Brazil and scored 97 international goals.


DID YOU KNOW?

  • During a match against Gambia in the Africa Cup in 1980, the Liberian players seemed particularly attentive and eager to play well. There was this urgent reason for this enthusiasm. The President of Liberia had threatened the whole team with execution by firing squad if they didn’t play up to scratch. Fortunately they earned a 0-0 draw and literally ‘lived to play another day’.

  • One of the most rated sides in the game, the USSR, didn’t reach the finals of the World Cup in 1974. The reason was unusual. They refused to play against Chile in the Santiago National stadium in 1973 because the stadium has been used to hold communist prisoners after the communist regime in Chile was overthrown in 1972.

  • In 1955 Selwyn Baptiste, a Trinidadian footballer, achieved a remarkable record – he was banned by the Trinidadian FA for 1,000 years!


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