Football Football is the name given to a number of different, but related, team sports. The most popular of these worldwide (and by far the most popular sport worldwide) is association football, which can be abbreviated soccer. The English language word football is also applied to rugby football (rugby union and rugby league), North American football (American and Canadian), Australian rules football, and Gaelic football. Some of the many different codes of football. While it is widely believed that the word football originated in reference to the action of a foot kicking a ball, there is a rival explanation, which has it that football originally referred to a variety of games in medieval Europe, which were played on foot. These games were usually played by peasants, as opposed to the horse-riding sports often played by aristocrats. While there is no conclusive evidence for this explanation, the word football has always implied a variety of games played on foot, not just those that involved kicking a ball. In some cases, the word football has been applied to games which have specifically outlawed kicking the ball. (See football (word) for more details.) All football games involve scoring with a spherical or prolate spheroid ball (itself called a football), by moving the ball into, onto, or over a goal area or line defended by the opposing team. Many of the modern games have their origins in England, but many peoples around the world have played games which involved kicking and/or carrying a ball since ancient times. 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 winning team is the one that has the most points or goals when a specified length of time has elapsed. History For the history of only Association Football, see History of football (soccer) Throughout the history of mankind the urge to kick at stones and other such objects is thought to have led to many early activities involving kicking and/or running with a ball. Football-like games predate recorded history in all parts of the world, and thus the earliest forms of football are not known. Ancient games Documented evidence of what is possibly the oldest organized activity resembling football can be found in a Chinese military manual written during the Han Dynasty in about 2nd century BC. 鞠 It describes a practice known as cuju (Traditional Chinese: 蹴 ; Simplified Chinese: 蹴 ; Pinyin: cù jū) which involved kicking a leather 踘 ball through a hole in a piece of silk cloth strung between two 30 foot poles. Another Asian ball-kicking game, which may have been influenced by cuju, is kemari. This is known to have been played within the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto from about 600 AD. In kemari several individuals stand in a circle and kick a ball to each other, trying not to let the ball drop to the ground (much like keepie uppie). The game survived through many years but appears to have died out sometime before the mid 19th century. In 1903 in a bid to restore ancient traditions the game was revived and it can now be seen played for the benefit of tourists at a number of festivals. Mesoamerican ballgames played with rubber balls are also well- documented as existing since before this time, and are thought to have resembled football in their earlier versions; but since later versions have more similarities to basketball or volleyball, and since their influence on modern football games is minimal, most do not class them as football. The Greeks and Romans are known to have played many ball games some of which involved the use of the feet. The Roman writer Cicero describes the case of a man who was killed whilst having a shave when a ball was kicked into a barbers shop. The Roman game of Harpastum is believed to have been adapted from a team game known as "επισκυρος" (episkyros) or pheninda that is mentioned by Greek playwright, Antiphanes (388-311BC) and later referred to by Clement of Alexandria. The game appears to have vaguely resembled rugby. There are a number of less well-documented references to prehistoric, ancient or traditional ball games, played by indigenous peoples all around the world. For example, William Strachey of the Jamestown settlement is the first to record a game played by the Native Americans called Pahsaheman, in 1610. In Victoria, Australia, Indigenous Australians played a game called Marn Grook. An 1878 book by Robert Brough- Smyth, The Aborigines of Victoria, quotes a man called Richard Thomas as saying, in about 1841, that he had witnessed Aboriginal people playing the game: "Mr Thomas describes how the foremost player will drop kick a ball made from the skin of a possum and how other players leap into the air in order to catch it." It is widely believed that Marn Grook had an influence on the development of Australian rules football (see below). In northern Canada and/or Alaska, the Inuit (Eskimos) played a game on ice called Aqsaqtuk. Each match began with two teams facing each other in parallel lines, before attempting to kick the ball through each other team's line and then at a goal. These games and others may well go far back into antiquity and have influenced football over the centuries. However, the route towards the development of modern football games appears to lie in Western Europe and particularly England.
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