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Soccer

Soccer SOCCER Not much is known about the origin of soccer. However, the Greeks and Romans played football and ball kicking games. The London Football Association developed the first sets of rules in 1863. British sailors and settlers brought the game to India, South America and Europe. During the late 19th century, soccer was brought to the United States.

However, it did not prove popular until after World War I. In 1908, soccer was made an Olympic event. Since 1952, Hungary has won the most gold medals with three. Even today, although it is an international game, it has been slow to gain popularity as an intercollegiate sport in this country. It is however, gaining popularity and is being included in physical education programs in many schools. Also, many local communities have started youth soccer leagues for children of all ages. The game of soccer, or association football as it is properly called, is the Europe’s most popular sport.

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Just about every country in the world plays soccer in some form or another. It is both physically and mentally demanding, requiring athletic skill and quick thinking. There are many tales about how soccer began. Many civilizations claim that they discovered the sport. There are records of soccer like games having been played in China, Greece, Japan, and Mexico more than 2,000 years ago.

Also the The Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) was formed in 1904 as an international governing body. Today, FIFA, which is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, has more than one hundred-forty member nations and overseas about thirty-nine million players worldwide. France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden were the founding fathers of FIFA. In 1905 Germany, Austria, and England joined the organization. At this time there was discussion of the first World Cup.

In soccer there are many rules that have changed. Back in the 1700’s the playing field was shaped like a square. There were only four major markings on the field. They were the touchlines, goal lines, halfway line, and the eighteen-yard lines. When the Football Association (FA) was created in 1863, the first uniform rules were made. FIFA now requires that soccer be played on a rectangular field between one hundred and one hundred-thirty yards long and between fifty and one hundred yards wide. For international matches the field should be between one hundred- ten and one hundred-twenty yards long and between seventy and eighty yards wide.

There are two goals, one placed at each end of the field. They are eight feet tall, eight yards across, and six feet deep. The lines that mark the sides of the field are called touchlines; those that mark the two ends of the field are called goal lines. Also there are five other distinctive lines. They are the halfway lines, the goal areas, the penalty areas, the corner marks, and the center circle.

In 1908 soccer was put in every summer Olympic Game. Since 1952 Hungary has won the most gold medals. By 1930 the interest in soccer was high enough to ensure the success of the first World Cup. Even though only thirteen Countries entered that was still enough to have the first World Cup. Soccer didn’t come to the United States until 1620.

Soccer first became recognized in the United States when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recognized it in 1959 as an official collegiate sport with a national championship tournament. Soon after the formation of the North American Soccer League (NASL), soccer in North America became the fastest growing sport for young people. Each team is made up of eleven players–a goalkeeper, and ten field players. The team is divided into positions. There are four players on the front line, three halfbacks, two fullbacks, one sweeper, and a goalkeeper.

Players uniforms usually consist of shorts which are loose fitting, a shirt which must be identical to each player on the team, socks, shoes, and shin guards. The shin guards must be completely covered by the socks. Also the shoes should be cleated, but it is not mandatory to do so. Soccer is not always played outside. There is an indoor version of soccer.

Indoor soccer began in 1939. It is a faster version of outdoor soccer. It is played on a much smaller field. The field looks like a hockey rink, except it is not played on ice; it is played on an Astroturf field that is surrounded by Plexiglas. The goals are much smaller than those in outdoor soccer. Substitutions are unlimited because it is so tiring and players never stop running. It was not until 1978 that Indoor Soccer became a professional competition in the United States when the Major Indoor Soccer League was formed.

There are three soccer leagues now active in the United States: The seven-team American Professional Soccer League (APSL), playing in the United States and Canada; the thirteen-team National Professional Soccer League (NASL); and the Continental Indoor Soccer League (CISL), based primarily in the western states. A national team, which includes a number of international-caliber players, has been put together to compete with the teams of twenty-three other nations in the 1994 World Cup, hosted in nine different locations across the United States. Soccer is a game of continuous action. The game is normally played in two forty-five minute halves, with a ten-minute resting period in-between. There are no time-outs and few substitutions.

Opposing teams move from one end of the field and back again. The flow of the play is stopped only when there is a penalty or goal. The aim of the game is to score more goals than the opponent. The ball that soccer players use is round like a basketball but one inch smaller in circumference. A team scores a goal when a player can move the ball past his opponent’s goal line and put it in the goal.

A soccer player dribbles the ball either by pushing it forward with short jabbing kicks with his instep or by using the sides of his feet. A player can pass the ball to a teammate by striking it with his head or by kicking it. Kick passes are most often made with the inside of the foot and almost never with the toe. Near the enemy goal, players score in a number of ways. Some have perfected kicks past the defender and fool the goalkeeper.

Others take a high pass from a teammate and use their head to blast the ball past the goalkeeper. Scoring a goal is more difficult than it looks. The field is slightly longer than a football field and half the width. A team must move the ball a long way without losing possession of the ball. It may require up to twenty passes and fancy dribbling.

On most soccer drives, even in programs, the offense is broken up before it gets shot on goal. A referee on the field who is assisted by two linesmen, one on each sideline, controls the game. Intentional contact with the ball from the shoulders to the hands is forbidden. The referee will stop play and award a direct free kick from the point of infraction, against the offending team when a penalty is called. It is possible to score a goal directly with that kind of kick. If one of the offenses is committed by a player inside that team’s own penalty area, then the other team gets a penalty kick.

The ball is placed on the penalty mark, twelve yards from the goal line, and only the goalkeeper is allowed to defend. The most important skills to practice are the offensive ones: dribbling (moving the ball down field), receiving, trapping, and kicking. Then there are the defensive skills: marking (the soccer term for guarding) an opponent, and slide tackling (slide tackling is a move to get the ball off an opponent by sliding on the ground like sliding into a base) and heading. A soccer player must do more with his head than strike at the ball. Individual skills are useful only when they fit in with the team. Soccer teams use strategies, and a good player must understand his responsibilities to the team and must use his skills accordingly.

Soccer players must learn to think for themselves during games. Since there are no time-outs, they hear from their coaches only at half time – and then only for a few minutes. If adjustments in team strategy are needed during play, the members of the team must know enough to make them by themselves. Each player must be adaptable enough to play both offense and defense, to take the responsibilities of a teammate in certain situations. Every player must be prepared to do everything.

Soccer provides a fine balance between individual skills and teamwork. Playing winning soccer requires the cooperative effort of eleven men and the individual skills of each. Sports and Games.

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