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Association football

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Association football is one of a family of football codes, which emerged from various ball games played worldwide since antiquity. The modern game traces its origins to 1863 when the Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association.

Players are not allowed to touch the ball with hands or arms while it is in play, except for the goalkeepers within the penalty area. Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, but may also use any other part of their body except the hands and the arms. The team that scores most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, either a draw is declared or the game goes into extra time or a penalty shootout depending on the format of the competition. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA; French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which organises World Cups for both men and women every four years.

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Sheffield Wednesday lift the 2005 League One Playoff Trophy
Sheffield Wednesday Football Club is a professional football team based in Sheffield, England who currently compete in the Football League of England in The Championship division. Wednesday are one of the oldest professional clubs in the world.

Nicknamed the "Owls", the club has won four league titles, three FA Cups and one League Cup, but their League Cup triumph in 1991 is their only major trophy since World War II. They did reach both domestic cup finals in 1993, but lost 2-1 to Arsenal each time.

Their main rivals are neighbours Sheffield United. Matches between Wednesday and United are nicknamed Steel City derbies and are usually the highlight of the season for both sets of fans. Famous matches include The Boxing Day Massacre, a Football League Third Division match which took place at Hillsborough on 26 December 1979. A record Third Division crowd of 49,309 fans watched Wednesday beat United 4-0 and the game has become part of Sheffield Wednesday folklore, even inspiring a song.

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Cesc Fàbregas
Francesc "Cesc" Fàbregas i Soler (born May 4, 1987 in Arenys de Mar, Catalonia, Spain), commonly known as Cesc Fàbregas, is a Spanish footballer who plays as a central midfielder.

Fàbregas started his career as a trainee with FC Barcelona but signed by Arsenal in July 2003 looking for regular first team football. He did not feature much in his first season for the Gunners, but following injuries to key midfielders in the 2004–05 season, his playing time increased. Before long, he had established himself as Arsenal's starting central midfielder and playmaker and went on to break several of the club's records as he began to earn a reputation of a technically-gifted player, excellent passer of the ball and key component of the Arsenal lineup.

In international football, the Spaniard's national career began at the youth level, representing the Under-17 side at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland. As a result of his club performances, he was called up the senior Spanish national team and played in the 2006 World Cup.

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map showing the area of England in relation to Great Britain and Ireland
The Football Association (The FA) is the governing body of football in England and the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. The FA governs all professional football clubs in England. It is a member of UEFA and FIFA, and holds a permanent seat on the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

The association was founded in 1863 with a view to creating a governing body for the sport and to decide on which variety of rules to use. The original Laws of the Game were drawn up and first used in a game played at Mortlake on 19 December 1863 between Barnes and Richmond.

All of England's professional football clubs are members of the Football Association. The FA is also responsible for the appointment of the management of the England men's and women's national teams and the organization of the FA Cup.

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Tifo in the San Siro
Credit: Flickr user luiginter

A group of supporters (Ultras) of Italian team Inter Milan create a display in the San Siro. The ground, which they share with rivals A.C. Milan, has the largest capacity in Italian football after its 1989 renovation in preparation for Italia '90.

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He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's all right.
George Best, commenting on David Beckham's ability in 2000

Did you know...

  • ... that MLS Cup 2007 was the first Major League Soccer championship rematch to be played in consecutive years? (3 March 2019)
  • ... that the San Jose Earthquakes won MLS Cup 2001 only one season after finishing at the bottom of the league table? (4 March 2019)
  • ... that Dutch footballer Leon de Kogel's playing career ended following a car accident in which he had to be cut out of his vehicle by the fire service? (9 March 2019)
  • ... that the inaugural MLS Cup was played in heavy rain in the aftermath of Hurricane Lili? (4 May 2019)
  • ... that collegiate soccer coach Pete Fewing has also officiated at the weddings of two of his former players? (10 May 2019)

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