Fútball or, as it’s more commonly known in the US, soccer is undeniably one of the most popular sports in the world. It is played by over 250 million people in 200 different countries. Although the fan base has grown immensely, there are still a lot of people who are unfamiliar with the game.
Soccer is played with two teams, each consisting of 11 people. There is a goalie and 10 field players. They play on a large field with two soccer goals on the end. Every player on the team’s job is to try and get the soccer ball into the opposite goal, while also trying to keep the other team from scoring. In order to make sure your team is efficient and working together, there are the four basic positions in soccer.
The first one is the goalie. They stay in the goal and block the opponent’s shots from going in. They are the only person on the field who is allowed to use their hands as long as they stay within the 18-yard box that is around the goal. The only time they can’t use their hands is if someone from their own team passes them the ball. Being goalie requires a lot of hand-eye coordination, and you can’t be afraid of the ball.
The next position is the defenders. These players tend to stay back and close to their goal. They play in front of the keeper. This way, if anyone on the opposite team makes a break for the goal, then they are an extra wall of protection. They stop the players before they have a chance to take a shot.
The next position is midfielder. Midfielders create a bridge between attacking and defending. They drop back when the opponents are attacking and go forward when their team is attacking. They are simply a defender and forward tied into one. This position requires a lot of running back and forth down the field.
The last position is forward. The forward’s primary job is to score goals or create opportunities for other players to score. Forwards are some of the most dangerous players on the field because if you don’t watch them they could score and cost you the game.
Soccer games last 90 minutes plus stoppage time. The clock in soccer never stops so the referee adds back time to the end of the halves to make up for breaks in the play. There are two halves that last 45 minutes plus stoppage.
Referees are the mediators of the game. They are there to make sure everyone plays fair and safe. They control the whistle and the cards. Cards are used to punish players who break the rules. There are yellow and red cards. If the ref holds up a yellow card, you most likely just broke a rule or fouled someone, but if it’s more serious than that or if you get a lot of yellow cards, you could end up receiving a red card. A red card means that the player has to leave the game and their coach can’t replace them with a sub. This is what we call playing with a man down. So instead of having 11 players, you would only have 10.
Soccer is a global game, but unlike some sports the rules never change, no matter where you’re playing. The only thing that changes is the terms. Americans use different soccer lingo than the rest of the world, so sometimes it can get confusing. For instance, we say “Soccer Uniforms” while the British call them “Kits”, or we say “Cleats” while they say “Boots.”
After having a basic knowledge of the game, you may enjoy watching the professional teams. Professional soccer has leagues all around the world. Under the rules of FIFA, Federation Internationale de Football Association or Soccer’s governing body, leagues have to be within one country. There are some exceptions to this rule. Major League Soccer includes clubs from both the USA and Canada. One of the most popular leagues is England’s premier league. There are championships that put the leagues against each other to determine the true champion of Europe. This is called The Champions League. It’s the highest level of club competition. The World Cup is another big soccer event. The difference between it and the Champions League is the fact that the World Cup is a competition for National Teams like team USA or the Netherlands. Unlike the Champions League, the World Cup happens every four years, sort of like the Olympics.
So by now hopefully the game of soccer isn’t as intimidating. This is the basic information you should probably know before diving head first into the world of soccer. Whether you know it as fútbol, footy, futeball, calcio, or soccer, it’s still the same beautiful game.