Soccer fan in stadium

A Summary of Soccer: Essential Report

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. There are an estimated 3.5 to 4 billion fans worldwide. Although the sport has origins dating back 2,000 years, the game we know today began to grow in prominence when the official Cambridge Rules were established in 1848. Since then, the game has exploded into a worldwide obsession. 

A summary of soccer

It’s a team sport, where two sides compete to outscore one another. 
• Teams can play in different formations, and each player performs a different role. The main position categories are defenders, midfielders and forwards. There are many individual positions within these categories. 
On average, soccer players fit within the average height of a person and weigh around 175lbs. However, different positions tend to have slight variations of these averages. 
In the modern game, there are hundreds of professional leagues. Professionals at the highest level are some of the best-paid athletes in all sports. Teams compete at the international level also. The biggest international competition is the FIFA World Cup. 
The game has many superstars but the standouts in today’s game are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. 
Large soccer stadium full of fans - (A summary of soccer)
Packed out stadiums are commonplace anytime a game is played | Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

Throughout this article, we will be going into more detail on the game of soccer and the above topics. 

Soccer Rules

A brief explanation of  the rules of soccer;

  1. It’s a game between two teams, each of which begins with 11 players. 
  2. The game is split into two halves of 45 minutes.
  3. It’s played on a rectangular field with goalposts on either end. If the ball is kicked between the goalposts, a goal is awarded to the attacking team.
  4. The objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposition. 
  5. The game is officiated by a referee.
  6. Only the goalkeeper of each team is permitted to handle the ball. They can only do so inside their own penalty box. 
  7. Excessive physicality, pushing, pulling, kicking, tripping and handballs are all against the rules. If a foul is committed, the team who carried it out is penalized. 
  8. A free-kick is given if a foul occurs outside of the penalty box.
  9. If a player is fouled in the opposition penalty box, a penalty kick is awarded. This is a kick on goal, 12 yards out. Only the striker and the goalie are allowed inside the box until after the kick has been taken. 
  10. Players deemed to commit a bad foul can be given a yellow card (warning). A second yellow card, or a particularly bad foul results in a red card. The player who receives a red card is ejected from the field, and their team will play the rest of the game one player short.
  11. A game can end in a tie, but in some circumstances there are tie-breakers. The most common being extra-time, golden goal, and a penalty shootout.

Positions 

There are 3 main positions in soccer: defenders, midfielders, and forwards. Although new roles and positions are introduced to the game as tactics change, here are the most common positions in soccer.

Soccer field positions
A typical 4-4-2 formation.

Defenders

#1 Goalkeeper

A GK is the only player permitted to touch the ball with their hands when the game is live. They may do so within their penalty box. As the last line of defense, their main functions are to stop shots and prevent goals. 

#2/3 Full Backs

The left and right backs are in charge of defending the wide areas of the field. They’re quick, tenacious and very fit. They often back up their midfielders in attacking situations. 

Another variation of this position is a wing-back.

#4/5 Center-Backs

They usually play as a pair but we often see formations setting out with 3 center-backs. Their main role is to stop any central attacks that come their way. These players are usually tall and strong. They must be aerially dominant and skilled in the art of defense (tackling, blocking, intercepting and marking). 

Midfielders

#6/8 Center-Midfield

These are the all-rounders. CMs are important for creating attacks, but also have defensive duties. On average, CMs cover more ground than any other player. In the modern game, there are many variations to this position, some far more attacking/defensive than others. 

Some other CM roles are attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder, box-to-box midfielder, and deep-lying playmaker.

#7/11 Wingers

 Wingers are usually very attacking. They’re skilled, fast, and can beat a defender 1 v 1. For many teams, wingers are responsible for creating goalscoring chances. Many great wingers also chip in with their fair share of goals. 

Forwards

#9/10 Strikers

Strikers come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. There are target men, center-forwards, inside forwards, false 9s, and second strikers to name a few. Although these roles differ, the main job of most strikers is to score and assist. 

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating a goal
Forwards like Cristiano Ronaldo get lots of praise for goalscoring | Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Physical and Skill Characteristics

Physically, soccer players aren’t required to be a certain size. The average height of a player falls within that of an average person. 

Players are lean, extremely fit, and tend to have large leg muscles. This is due to the requirements of the game (sprinting, jogging, jumping, and kicking).

Skillset

Soccer players are highly skilled. They must be technical and physically gifted. Here are the main aspects of a soccer player’s skillset:

  • Ball control: when receiving or moving with the ball.
  • Kicking technique: passing, shooting, crossing.
  • Speed: over short and long distances.
  • Quick feet.
  • Low center of gravity.
  • Endurance/physical fitness.
  • Agility.
  • Vision.

Modern Game

The modern game has a global following. People from all over the world follow the club and international tournaments. 

Professional Leagues 

There are hundreds of professional leagues worldwide but some are far more popular than others. The most popular leagues contain the biggest franchises and are contested by the best players in the world. Some of the most beloved leagues in the world currently are:

  • English Premier League (England)
  • Bundesliga (Germany)
  • La Liga (Spain)
  • Serie A (Italy)
  • Ligue 1 (France)
  • Major League Soccer (USA)
  • Eredivisie (Netherlands)
  • Liga MX (Mexico)
  • Argentine Primera (Argentina)
  • Brasileirao (Brazil)

International Soccer

The best players from a country come together to play international soccer. There are friendly international games, continental tournaments, as well as worldwide tournaments. 

The single largest soccer tournament in the world is the World Cup. It takes place every four years. 32 teams are eligible for each tournament via qualifying rounds. The qualifiers take place amongst teams from a specific region.  

France celebrating the world cup win
France won the most recent World Cup in 2018 | Image courtesy of Kremlin.

The nations with the most wins are:

CountryNumber of World Cup Wins
Brazil5
Germany4
Italy4
Uruguay2
Argentina2
France2
Spain1
England1
Messi and Ronaldo on a soccer field
Many people believe that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the greatest players ever | Image courtesy of Too V-i.

Best Soccer Players

There have been countless legends in the game of soccer. Some are global superstars, and some are cult heroes, specific to a franchise or country. It’s impossible to name them all, but below are some of the greats. 

Famous players throughout history:

  • Pele
  • Diego Maradona
  • Franz Beckenbauer
  • Johan Cruyff
  • Garrincha
  • Zico
  • Romario
  • Ronaldo 
  • George Best
  • David Beckham
  • Zinedine Zidane

Some of the greats of the modern era are:

  • Lionel Messi
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Neymar
  • Luis Suarez
  • Sergio Ramos
  • Kaka
  • Ronaldinho
  • Andreas Iniesta
  • Xavi
  • Thierry Henry

Who makes the official rules in soccer?

The IFAB (International Football Association Board) rule and govern The Laws of the Game. They have done so since 1886.

Do the soccer rules differ from country to country?

No. FIFA works to ensure that the rules of soccer are consistent in each country. However, finances can vary a lot, leading to some countries having better technology and resources (e.g. VAR and goal-line technology).

Who invented soccer?

Soccer existed in various forms for around 2,000 years. The earliest form dates back to China. However, such versions from so long ago do not truly represent the sport of today. Soccer in it’s more organized form was established in 1848 when the Cambridge rules (UK) were established. Therefore, the answer to this question is up to interpretation. 
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