Association football (Soccer)

Association football (Soccer) Football Games

Association football is simply called Football in many countries while Soccer is more familiar in some countries.

Association football


The rules of Association football were originally established by the Football Association in London, England in 1863.

The oldest competition is the FA Cup first held in England in 1872. The first official international game was also played in 1872. The encounter between Scotland and England in Glasgow ended with scoreless draw.

The first league was formed in Birmingham, England in 1888 with the initiative of William McGregor, the director of Aston Villa. 12 clubs from Midlands and Northern England participated in the league the and the first league champion team was the Preston North End FC, who also won the FA Cup in the same season. Women’s football became very popular toward early 1920’s and attracted over 50,000 audience in number of occasions in England, however saw the long decline later. Great Britain had the presences in many parts of the world during 19th and 20th centuries, and found that the Association football was accepted by local peoples while they enjoyed the game.


The global governing body of Association football, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association; International Federation of Association Football) was established in 1904 and based in Zurich, Switzerland. Member associations were just 8 European countries at the beginning and have grown to more than 200 members.

There are 6 regional confederations under the umbrella of the FIFA across the world as follows.

AFC (Asian Football Confederation).

CAF (Confederation of African Football).

UEFA (Union of European Football Associations).

CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football).

OFC (Oceania Football Confederation).

CONMEBOL (Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol; Confederação Sul-americana de Futebol; South American Football Confederation).

There are 211 national (regional)football associations affiliated with FIFA, which are more than the number of member states of the United Nations.


The World Cup is organised every 4 years by FIFA. The first world cup took place in Uruguay in 1930 and Uruguay became the first world champions after defeating Argentina in the final. Football is also played in Summer Olympic Games since 1900. Women’s football was first selected for the Olympic games in 1996.

The continental championships are organised by each continental confederation every 4 years namely

the Asian Cup (AFC),

the African Cup of Nations (CAF),

the European Championship (UEFA),


the OFC Nations Cup (OFC) and

the Copa América (CONMEBOL).

The winners of the 6 continental championships compete in the FIFA Confederations Cup.

There are club competitions in each continent.

The Asian Champions League (AFC),

the Africa Champions League (CAF),

the European Champions League (UEFA),

the CONCACAF Champions League (CONCACAF),

the Oceania Champions League (OFC) and

the Copa Libertadores (CONMEBOL)

take place annually. The winners of these continental club competitions participate in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Each national association organises domestic leagues respectively. Due to the high popularity of Association football and resources available, Europe is said to be the capital of club football acquiring many of the best footballers from all around the world. Particularly the 5 big leagues, Spanish league (La Liga), English league (Premiership), German league (Bundesliga), Italian league (Serie A) and French league (Ligue 1), are influential and attract many global audiences. Brazilian league (Campeonato Brasileiro Série A) is very competitive domestic league as well although clubs release many of their best players to European leagues every year.


Today, the laws of the game are governed by the IFAB (International Football Association Board). The rules have been reviewed and updated since the foundation of the game. But what Association football distinctive from other main football codes are the least usage of hands and arms and restricted physical contacts. As per the rules of today, field players are not allowed to use hands and arms to touch the ball during in play while goalkeepers can handle the ball only within their own penalty areas.

A standard adult game consists of 2 halves of 45 minutes respectively. At the highest level, a couple of goals per game can be expected and it is not uncommon to see games finish without any goal. This nature makes many games very tight and crowds can expect upsets where smaller clubs beat bigger clubs.

1 team consists of 11 players and they can be situated anywhere on the pitch. The goalkeeper tends to stay by the own goalmouth. There are 3 major position categories for outfield players, which are defender (DF), midfielder (MF) and forward (FW). There are also the positions combining the different characteristics of these 3 position categories. For example, Anchor (defensive midfielder) and wing back tend to stay between midfield and back line. Attacking midfielder tends to go between front line and midfield.

Various types of players and formation (system) can be utilised according the game plans depending on whether team wants to be defensive or attacking minded, etc.

The ball is round shape and with a circumference 68cm to 70cm (27in to 28in), and weight 410g to 450g (14oz to 16oz).

The pitch size is touch line 90m to120m (100yd to130yd), goal line 45m to 90m (50yd to 100yd). Goal size is 730cm (24ft) width, 240cm (8ft) height. The length of the pitch for international adult matches is in the range of 100m – 110m (110yd – 120yd) and the width is in the range of 64m – 75m (70yd – 80yd). Fields for non-international matches may be 90m – 120m (100yd – 130yd) length and 45m – 90m (50yd – 100yd) in width, provided that the pitch does not become square.

Association football (Soccer) variants

Beach soccer (Beach football, Beasal)

Football had been played on beach casually for many years. BSWW (Beach Soccer Worldwide) was established and the rules were codified in 1992. Each team consists of 5 players with unlimited substitutions. Players are not allowed to wear footwears. The pitch is much smaller than 11 a side game, and heavy sands easily stop the ball and feet. Goals is just slightly smaller than the ones of ordinary Association football. Players can attempt goal from almost everywhere. The match duration consists of 3 periods of 12 minutes. Players can choose to take a kick-in instead of a throw-in. Interrupting opponents from bicycle kick is the foul.

International competitions of Beach soccer:

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

Intercontinental Cup.

BSWW Mundialito.

Mundialito de Clubes.

Persian Beach Soccer Cup.

The Beach Soccer Championships (Oceanside, California, USA).

North American Sand Soccer Championships.

Major competitions of Beach soccer by continental confederations:

AFC Beach Soccer Championship.

CAF Beach Soccer Championship.

CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship.

CONMEBOL Beach Soccer Championship.

OFC Beach Soccer Championship.

Euro Beach Soccer Cup.

Euro Beach Soccer League.

UEFA Beach Soccer Championship.

BSWW Euro Winners Cup.

Five-a-side football

There are varieties of football codes played by 5-a-side around the world.

Futsal (Footsal)

The name, Futsal is originated from “fútbol sala” (Spanish), “fútbol de salón” (Spanish) and “futebol de salão” (Portuguese). Futsal is more technique minded game since ball and space available are smaller than Association football. Players make short passes very quickly and show tricks on feet often. Players need to be good on the ball and have imagination and playful thinking to excel in this game.


Substitution can be done as many times as teams want and at any time even when it’s in play. Players can go back onto the court to play again during the game. When a player is sent off, substitute can enter after 2 minutes or when a goal is conceded. Futsal doesn’t have offside rule. If a team commits 6 or more fouls in 1 half, a second penalty kick is awarded each time. Players cannot score directly from kick-off. Goalkeepers need to play the ball in 4 seconds regardless of hands or feet. 1 minute time-out can be taken by each team in each half. When the ball goes off the court, restart method is a kick-in.

The ball size is circumference 62cm – 64cm (24in – 25 in), weight 400g – 440g (14oz – 16oz). The court size is between 25m × 16 m (82ft × 52ft) and 42m × 25m (138ft × 82ft). The goal size is 3m (9.8ft) x 2m (6.6ft). The handball field can be used for Futsal.


Futsal developed from the indoor football, and particularly became popular in Latin America. Many local rules existed and South American Futsal Confederation (Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol de Salón) was established in 1965. In 1971, FIFUSA (International Futsal Federation: Federación Internacional de Fútbol de Salón) was founded in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the World Championship was held there in 1982. Brazil became the first world champions and reman influential in Futsal to date.

FIFA, the governing body of Association football started promoting their own version of Futsal in 1980’s. PANAFUTSAL (Confederación Panamericana de Futbol de Salon) was formed in 1990’s and its member countries established AMF (Asociación Mundial de Futsal) in 2002. Futsal has 2 international governing bodies, FIFA and AMF today.

Spain league (Liga Nacional de Fútbol Sala) is said to be the biggest domestic league in the world.

Futebol de salao

Futsal is called “Futebol de salão” in Portuguese such as in Brazil. It means Indoor football and there are different local rules.


It is the Flemish (Dutch) word meaning “Mini football”. Minivoetbal is the 5-a-side football and 1 game consists 4 quarters of 13 minutes. The goal size is 250cm width x 100cm height, which is smaller than Futsal. It is popular in Belgium particularly in East Flanders and West Flanders regions. Competition was established in1968 for the first time.

Papi fut (Papi futbol, Futbol 5)

Football played on the basketball court is called Papi fut in Central America such as Costa Rica. Players need to score from inside of goal area.

Minifootball (Indoor soccer, Arena soccer, Floorball, Fast football=Futbol rapido, Showball=Showbol, Futbol indoor, Futbito)

Indoor soccer is based on Football association and generally played on the synthetic turf in walled arena. Since there are no touch lines and ball bounce back from the walls, throw-in or kick-in are not used in the game. Mostly sliding tackles are banned and there is no offside rule. Each league has slightly different rules and some rules are influenced by such as ice hockey and basketball.

Indoor soccer is popular in North America such as USA, Canada and Mexico. As it is mainly played indoor, it caught attention in cold regions across USA and Canada where heavy snow covers the ground during the long winter.

FIFRA (International Fast Football Federation) was founded in Mexico in 2008 and organised international competitions until 2013. WMF (World Minifootball Federation) based in Czech is the international governing body nowadays. The World cup was held in 2015 and USA became the winner after defeating Mexico.


Based on Association football and played on much smaller pitch. It tends to be the artificial grass surrounded with walls or cage. Penalty area is arc shape. The Game tends to continue without out of play since the ball remains in play unless it goes beyond the walls. Walls bounce the ball back even if the accuracy is not so high. Therefore, it is contested with physicality and fitness rather than techniques. Also, there are various local rules. The 5-a-side is popular in the UK.

Paralympic Games Football

Certain modifications are made to the rules in order to accommodate players with disabilities. Blind soccer and Cerebal palsy football are recognised widely as Paralympic Games Football.

Blind soccer

The rules of Blind soccer are based on Futsal. And there are specific arrangements for players with impaired eyesight. Field players need to wear blindfold. Goalkeepers can be players without handicaps, and no need of using blindfold.

The ball makes sound, so players can be aware of where the ball goes. When approaching to the ball, players need to call “voy” which means “go” in Spanish. This reduce the risk of accidental collision between players. There is a role called the guide staying off the court, who gives instructions to the players. Since players are relying on sounds to make judgements, audience are supposed to keep silence during the in play. Touch line is surrounded with walls, so that the ball will not go out of line easily. It is said that Blind soccer started as course activities in special schools. IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) is the organiser of the World Championship. Blind soccer is also played in Paralympic Games.

Cerebal palsy football (CP football)

Cerebal palsy football is 7-a-side game based on Association football. It used to be chosen for the Paralympic Games. CPISRA (Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association) governed the sport between 1978 and 2014. IFCPF (International Federation of Cerebral Palsy Football) took its place from 2015. A match consists of 2 halves of 15 minutes. The pitch size is between 70m x 50m to 75m x 55m. The goal size is 5m x 2m. The offside rule is not applied.

Amputee football

In Amputee football, 1 team has 7 players, who are 6 field players with lower extremity amputation, and 1 goalkeeper with an upper extremity amputation. Field players are not allowed to play wearing prosthesis, and use lofstrand crutches instead to move around. However, bi-lateral amputees may play with prosthesis. Control or block the ball by crutch is the foul just like handball. However, unintentional ball contact of crutch or residual limbs is not penalised. A penalty kick is awarded to the opposite team if crutch is used against a player. Each team may have a time-out for 2 minutes during a game. Amputee football do not apply offsides. Number of substitutions allowed per game is unlimited. The pitch size is 70m x 60m. The goal size is 500cm width x 220cm height. A game consists of 2 halves of 25 minutes respectively.

Deaf football

Deaf competitions follow general Association football rules or Futsal rules with just one adaptation, that the players need to remove hearing aids and cochlear implants during games.

Wheelchair soccer

The rules are based on Association football. The court size is same as the basketball’s in general. The diameter of ball is larger than association football. Players use wheelchairs. The wheelchairs may be with or without motor. Some players use electric wheelchairs and some may move wheelchairs manually. In case players are not able to move themselves physically, a pusher is allowed to move wheelchairs. Capability of players can differ due to the grades of disabilities. Team has a goalkeeper in senior division while there is no goalkeeper in reserve division.

In 2005, representatives from 7 nations (Belgium, Canada, England, France, Japan, Portugal and United States) had conferences in Le Chesnay, France and in Coimbra, Portugal to form the International Powerchair Football Association and standardise the rules for international competitions. It was finalised in Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 2006 and name of the organisation was changed to the FIPFA (Federation Internationale de Powerchair Football Associations).

Powerchair football (Power soccer)

The rules are based on Association football and the major difference with the Wheelchair soccer is that all players must use power wheelchairs equipped with 4 or more wheels and footguards to move around and spin-kick the ball. A lap belt is required for safety purposes. The running speed is not allowed to exceed 10 km/h. A game consists of two halves of 20 minutes respectively. The court size is same as the basketball. Each team consists of 4 players including a goalkeeper. The ball size is larger and its diameter is 13 inch (330 mm). This will prevent the ball from going underneath the wheelchairs, and makes it safer.

The rules, “two-on-one” and “3-in-the-goal-area” create artificial space around the ball, which are the major differences from Association football. When the ball goes beyond the touchline, restart method is kick-in. Players can score goals from kick-ins directly. Intentionally crashing to another player is not allowed. Since establishment in 2006, FIPFA (Fédération Internationale de Powerchair Football Association) based in Paris, France governs the game. The first Powerchair Football World Cup took place in Tokyo, Japan in October 2007 and USA became the first world champions after beating France in the penalty shootout.

Street football (Street soccer)

Street football is the informal game of the football. It may appear more similar to Futsal than Association football as number of players, pitch size and goal size tend to be smaller. Pitch sizes and goal sizes vary as players use the space available on the streets. There may not be the proper field markings either. Since these are casual games, players have less responsibilities to win, they tend to show tricky techniques more often. Many professional players actually started playing football on the streets in their childhood and acquired the imaginative performances. Street football is a great way to educate small children. Organisations around the world set their own rules and hold competitions for the Street football. 1 on 1 rules also exist such as “Panna knock out”. Sports brands occasionally use Street football for their advertising. EA (Electronic Arts) has released the Street football game called “FIFA Street”. Street football is also called Street soccer.

Rush goalie (Fly goalie, Fly keeper)

Rush goalie is the rule often used for informal games. Rather than 1 player taking the goalkeeper role, multiple players come into the goalmouth and defend with arms, and then go out to the field again. This can be the solution when team doesn’t have the dedicated goalkeeper and everyone wants to be involved with the field play. There are similar variations. In “Last man back” also known as “Spider goalie” and “Monkey rush”, the goal is open but when the team is defending, the player nearest to the goal can handle the ball. It can be unclear who is the last man at times. So the “Nets” rule can be used as the solution. In Nets, player has to shout “nets” before handling the ball.

In Association football, some goalkeepers are called “Sweeper-keeper” because of their active involvement and abilities in the field play. Rush goalie is not allowed in official games, but their play styles are similar to the Rush goalie. Since back-pass rule was introduced, goalkeepers also require skills to control the ball on feet just as field players.

Header and volley

3 or more players including a goalkeeper are required. 1 player crosses the ball and other players have options to score from header and volley. Header and volley also known as Cage rage, Crowcombe rules and Gooma.

Walking football

Walking football was first played at the Chesterfield FC in 2011 and it attracted the attention across the UK. It can be played outdoor or indoor. Physical contacts including sliding tackle are not allowed. The Ball cannot be kicked high in the air. In Walking football, the injury risk is reduced and it increases cardiovascular fitness as players continue walking. Players are not allowed to run. This is ideal for senior citizen who want to stay active and healthy. The pitch size should be between 20 x 15 yards and 40 x 30 yards.

Crab football (Crab soccer)

Crab football can be played with general football or large ball. Players need to put hands on the ground to support body and move around. This is called crab walking as it appears like crab. No field payers can stand up in 2 feet.

Swamp football (Swanp soccer)

Swamp football is based on Association football and played in bogs or swamps. Due to the heavy and wet surface, it requires big efforts to run around and kick the ball. It was originally the training method for athletes and soldiers. The first major competition was played in Finland in 1998.


Jorkyball is the 2 on 2 game played in a cage of 980cm (33ft) length x 480cm (16ft) width x 270cm (9 ft) height. Players can use the wall to move the ball. 2 on 3 Jorkyball was devised in Lyon France in 1987 and it has developed into the current form. The ball is made of felt, weighing 200 g (7oz), and much smaller size than the balls of Association football and Futsal. The first team who reaches the 2 sets of 7 goals win the game.

Bubble football (Bubble soccer, Bubbleball, Airball soccer)

Bubble football was invented in Norway in 2011. Its popularity spread quickly around the world as it’s a recreative sport to play and fun to watch. In Bubble football, each player wears large inflatable bubble, which covers the entire upper body including the head. Players are allowed to crush each other and spin around the surface as a result. But it’s not painful because players are protected each other with the bubble.

Three sided football (3SF)

Three sided football is based on Association football, and the major difference is that 3 teams play simultaneously rather than general 2 team in 1 game. Pitch shape is hexagon and have 3 goals. The team conceded the fewest goals among the 3 teams wins the game. The concept was devised by the Danish artist, Asger Jorn. It was first played in London, UK in 1993. The Deptford Three Sided Football Club (D3FC) was established in 2012, when was the 50 years anniversary of the invention. This led to the formation of the Deptford 3SF League in 2014. The 3SF World Cup was held by the International Three Sided Football Federation with the Museum Jorn in Denmark in May 2014 for the first time. Eventually Silkeborg KFUM of Denmark became the first world champions.

Wembley (Wembo, FA, knock-outs, Cuppy, Worldy, Knocky-outy, World Cup Willy, Wurly)

Players can progress to the next round by scoring a goal. Players who scored wait off the pitch until all the next round. The final is played by 2 players.

Keepie uppie (Keep-Ups, Kick-ups)

Players keep the ball up in the air as much as possible using parts of body such as feet, legs, chest, shoulders and head but no arms and hands. Best players can keep the ball up for longer than 1 entire day. Some players can complete the walk of nearly 50km while keeping the ball up. Brazilian footballer, Milene Domingues made the record of Keepie uppie for the most touches, which is 55,198 times. Keepie uppie is similar to Cuju.

One bounce

Players intend to keep the ball up but allowing 1 bounce on the ground. Each player can fail up to 3 time to survive in the game.

Author: Takuya Nagata. Amazon Profile

Novel writer, Creator. Travelled to Brazil and trained football at CFZ do Rio (Centro de Futebol Zico Sociedade Esportiva) in Rio de Janeiro. Played soccer for the Urawa Reds (Urawa Red Diamonds), one of the biggest football clubs in Japan, and toured Europe. Retired at a young age and voyaged alone to England and graduated from UCA, the UK’s university. Established careers as journalist, football coach, consultant, etc. across Europe such as Spain. Knowledgeable in creative and technology fields as well. Launched “MINIЯISM” (minirism), the art movement that contributes to the development of societies and the knowledge hub “The Minimalist.” The founder of “Propulsive Football” (PROBALL), the world’s first-ever competitive mixed football, facilitating diversity and spirit for equal participation in society. Also writing for “Football Game Sphere.”

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