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Football refers to a number of different team sports, all of which involve scoring points with a round or ellipsoid ball in a goal defended by the opposing team.

The object of all football games is to advance the ball by kicking, running with, or passing and catching, either to the opponent's end of the field where points or goals can be scored by, depending on the game, putting the ball across the goal line between posts and under a crossbar, putting the ball between upright posts (and possibly over a crossbar), or advancing the ball across the opponent's goal line while maintaining possession of the ball.

In all football games, the team that wins is the one that has the most points or goals when a specified length of time has elapsed. The games all share a common heritage, and are descended from mob games of the Middle Ages.

  • Other games
    • Some places in the UK have an annual town- or village-wide football game with their own rules.
They are often traditionally played on Shrove Tuesday. Such games can be found in:

See also: History of football for the shared history of all these games.

Table of contents

Football throughout the world

Depending on which part of the world you live in, the word football when referring to a specific game can mean any one of the above.

Because of this, much friendly' controversy has erupted over the term football, primarily because it is used in different ways in different parts of the world. Two teams play against each other to score with a ball in the opponent's area. The agreement ends there.


Most of the world, outside of North America and Australia, use the term football to mean "Association football". Many also use "soccer" for the same game.

North America

In the United States and Canada, football almost always refers to American football or Canadian football, with Association football being referred to as soccer. It should be noted that although Canadian football is similar to American football this is not because Canadian football descends from American football. In fact, American football originated in the adoption of Rugby Union rules by Harvard University after it had played three matches against McGill University of Montreal, which followed the Rugby Union code. Proximity, common personalities, influences affecting both games, and the long-standing desire of the Canadian Football League to expand into the Uniterd States have kept them similar. For example, Canadian rugby's (precursor to Canadian football) early use of a limited number of American players and coaches helped introduce the forward pass into Canadian football several years after it was first introduced in the United States, while the CFL's interest in expansion to the United States led to the value of a touchdown being increased from 5 points to 6 in the 1950s.


In Australia, football usually means Australian rules football, although it can also mean Rugby League or Rugby Union. The term "Gridiron football" is used to refer to the American form. Australian Rules Football was once historically called "Victorian football".

Conceptual art

Three sided football is played on a hexagonal pitch where goals are counted against the conceding side. This encourages shifting alliances and allows players a choice of goals to score in. It was devised by the artist Asger Jorn and has been promoted in England, Scotland, Italy and Austria by the Luther Blissett Three-sided Football League. The first known game played was organized by the London Psychogeographic Association[?] at the Glasgow Anarchist Summer School[?] in 1993.

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