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The attacking player (No. 10) attempts to kick the ball beyond the opposing team's goalkeeper, between the goalposts, and beneath the crossbar to score a goal.

Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players who primarily use their feet to propel the ball around a rectangular field called a pitch. The objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposition by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing side's rectangular framed goal. Traditionally the game has been played over two 45 minute halves, for a total match time of 90 minutes. With an estimated 250 million players active in over 200 countries it is considered the world's most popular sport.

The game of association football is played in accordance with the Laws of the Game, a set of rules that has been in effect since 1863 with the International Football Association Board maintaining them since 1886. The laws stipulate the number of players a team should have, the game length, the size of the field and ball, the type and nature of fouls that referees may penalize, the offside law, and many other laws that define the sport. It is the task of the referee to interpret and enforce the Laws of the Game. The game is played with a football that is 68–70 cm (27–28 in) in circumference. The two teams compete to get the ball into the other team's goal (between the posts and under the bar), thereby scoring a goal. When the ball is in play the players mainly use their feet, but may use any other part of their body to control, strike or pass the ball apart from their hands or arms. Only the goalkeepers may use their hands and arms, and only then within the penalty area. The team that has scored more goals at the end of the game is the winner. Depending on the format of the competition an equal number of goals scored may result in a draw being declared or the game goes into extra time or a penalty shootout.

Internationally, association football is globally governed by FIFA (an abbreviation for Fédération Internationale de Football Association, French for International Federation of Association Football). At a regional level, six continental confederations are responsible for operating competitions between member national associations. The national associations are responsible for managing the game, both professionally and at an amateur level, in their own countries and coordinating competitions in accordance with the Laws of the Game. The most senior and prestigious international competitions are the men's FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Women's World Cup. The men's World Cup is the most-viewed sporting event in the world, surpassing the Olympic Games. Both competitions pit national representative teams against each other in a series of group games, and then a knockout format until two teams remain to compete in the World Cup Final. The men's game sees approximately 190–200 national teams partake in respective qualifying tournaments on a continental confederation level for a place in the main tournament. The main tournament is held every four years and involves 32 national teams spanning over four weeks.. The first competition was the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay. (Full article...)

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Maidana taking a corner kick for Philadelphia
Maidana taking a corner kick for Philadelphia
The 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final was played on September 16, 2014, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. The match determined the winner of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, a tournament open to amateur and professional teams affiliated with the United States Soccer Federation. This was the 101st edition of the oldest competition in United States soccer. Seattle Sounders FC won the match, defeating the Philadelphia Union. The crowd of 15,256 saw the teams go into extra time level at 1–1 before the Sounders scored twice more to end the match 3–1.

The Sounders were in the midst of a Supporters' Shield-winning regular season, while the Union's start was so poor that their coach was replaced a week prior to their first game in the competition. Philadelphia secured its berth in the final by defeating the Harrisburg City Islanders, the New York Cosmos, the New England Revolution, and FC Dallas. Seattle's road to the final included victories over PSA Elite, the San Jose Earthquakes, the Portland Timbers, and the Chicago Fire.

The coaches both chose strong squads in their attempts to win the trophy, though Sounders forward Kenny Cooper, later selected as Player of the Tournament, did not appear in the final. The Union's Maurice Edu gave his team the lead with a goal in the first half, but the Sounders equalized with a second half strike by Chad Barrett, and the match went into extra time. Although Philadelphia controlled periods of the match with chances throughout, Clint Dempsey took the lead for Seattle in the first extra time period, and Obafemi Martins sealed a Seattle victory with a late goal. Seattle earned a $250,000 cash prize, as well as a berth into the 2015–16 CONCACAF Champions League. Philadelphia received a $60,000 cash prize as the competition's runner-up. (Full article...)

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Nécib during a qualifying round for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, 2013

Louisa Nécib (born 23 January 1987) is a French women's international footballer who plays for French club Olympique Lyonnais of the Division 1 Féminine. She plays as a central attacking midfielder and is described as a "gifted playmaker" who "possesses superb technique". Nécib is also known for her "elegant possession, sublime passing skills, and cultured touch on the ball". She has been labeled by the French media as "the female Zidane", primarily due to having an Algerian background, growing up in Marseille like Zidane, and having immense skill.

Nécib began her football career playing for local youth clubs in her hometown of Marseille, such as Union Sportive Marseille and Celtic de Marseille. With the latter club, she made her senior team debut in 2003 and, in the following season, helped the club win the Division 3 Féminine. In 2004, Nécib was selected to attend CNFE Clairefontaine, the women's section of the Clairefontaine academy. She spent two years at the training center, and in 2006, departed for Montpellier of the Division 1 Féminine. In her only season with Montpellier, Nécib helped the team win the 2006–07 edition of the Challenge de France. After departing Montpellier, she joined Lyon. Since joining the club, Nécib has won a slew of trophies, which include four league titles, one Challenge de France, and one UEFA Women's Champions League title. For her performances during the 2008–09 season, she was named the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Female Player of the Year.

Nécib is a former French women's youth international having represented her nation at all levels for which she was eligible. At under-19 level, she played on the teams that reached the 2004 and 2005 editions of the UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship. With the under-20 team, Nécib played at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship scoring a goal in the group stage against Argentina as France reached the quarter-finals. Prior to playing in the U-20 Women's World Cup, Nécib made her senior international debut in February 2005 in a friendly match against Norway. Two years later in March 2007, Nécib scored her first senior international goal in a UEFA Women's Euro 2009 qualifying victory over Greece. She has participated in three major international tournaments for her country; the 2005 and 2009 editions of UEFA Women's Euro and the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. In the latter competition, Nécib acted as the playmaker and contributed to the team that finished in fourth place.

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The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is the governing body of football in India under jurisdiction of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. Formed in 1935 founded at Darbhanga, the federation was one of the founding members of the Asian Football Confederation, the overseer of football in Asia.

The AIFF sanctions and runs all competitive football tournaments and leagues at a national level, namely the Indian Super League, I-League and Super Cup. The federation also indirectly manages local football competitions through the state associations. The federation is also responsible for managing the India national football team, as well as the women's team and the various youth national sides. (Full article...)

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A game of Street football in Kolkata, India
Credit: Flickr user Dipanker Dutta
A game of Street football in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The term street football encompasses a wide variety of informal games that are loosely based on association football but do not necessarily enforce all, or indeed any, of the Laws of the Game. Often the most basic of set-ups will involve just a ball with a wall or fence used as a goal, or items such as clothing being used for goalposts. The ease of playing these informal games means that they are popular all over the world.

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What else is there in life? Cricket is like watching paint dry. Tennis? Golf is a pain in the backside. The only game in town is soccer.
Ken Bates

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The following are images from various association football-related articles on Wikipedia.

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The 2006 FIFA World Cup was the 18th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international association football world championship tournament. It was held from 9 June to 9 July 2006 in Germany, which had won the right to host the event in July 2000. Teams representing 198 national football associations from all six populated continents participated in the qualification process which began in September 2003. Thirty-one teams qualified from this process along with hosts Germany for the finals tournament. It was the second time that Germany staged the competition and the first as a unified country along with the former East Germany with Leipzig as a host city (the other was in 1974 in West Germany), and the 10th time that the tournament was held in Europe.

Italy won the tournament, claiming their fourth World Cup title, defeating France 5–3 in a penalty shoot-out in the final after extra time had finished in a 1–1 draw. Germany defeated Portugal 3–1 to finish in third place. Angola, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Trinidad and Tobago and Togo made their first appearances in the finals. It was also the only appearance of Serbia and Montenegro under that name; they had previously appeared in 1998 as Yugoslavia. In late May 2006, immediately prior to the tournament, Montenegro voted in a referendum to become an independent nation and dissolve the loose confederacy then existing between it and Serbia; Serbia recognised the results of the referendum in early June. Due to time constraints, FIFA had Serbia and Montenegro play in the World Cup tournament as one team, marking the first instance of multiple sovereign nations competing as one team in a major football tournament since UEFA Euro 1992. (Full article...)

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