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Overview

Thanks to the game’s long history, football has grown to become the most popular sport in the world. Millions of people around the globe watch major competitions, and football stars become huge international celebrities. Many kids worldwide play football, because it is relatively simple to play on a beginner level--and it is fun.

Origins

Nobody knows for sure who invented soccer, or when. According to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, international soccer's governing body, there is evidence that people in China might have played a game similar to soccer more than 2,000 years ago. However, modern soccer traces its origins back to medieval England. Village ball game contests slowly evolved into a more organized sport by the 19th century.

Rules

The newly formed English Football Association wrote the first official soccer rules 1863. This association still governs English soccer today. The rules have changed over the years, but the basic game is still the same.

FIFA

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, commonly known as FIFA, is the governing body of association soccer. FIFA organizes and regulates all of the main soccer competitions in the world. It also has control over any rule changes.

Soccer or Football?

Soccer is known as football throughout most of the world. In North America, however, the word soccer is used to avoid confusion with American football as played in the National Football League, or NFL.

Popularity

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. According to figures published on The Independent website, at least 260 million people watched the 2006 World Cup soccer final live on television. In comparison, approximately 98 million people watched the 2006 Super Bowl.

Competitions

The World Cup is the biggest and most important soccer competition. It is an international competition, with each team representing its own nation. Each country in the world also has its own national competitions between clubs. Soccer first appeared in the Olympic Games in 1908.

Greatest Player

Many consider a Brazilian named Pelé to have been the greatest soccer player of all time. However, others argue that Diego Maradona, an attacking midfielder from Argentina, was as good as Pele.

Player Awards

Each year, FIFA names one player the World Player of the Year. This is arguably the greatest recognition that an individual soccer player can receive during his playing career.

Money

Football players can make a lot of money. Football stars earn a lot from their clubs, and they make even more from sponsorship and advertising deals. According to The Daily Mail Online website, Lionel Messi, the 2009 FIFA Player of the Year, earned more than $41 million in 2009 alone.

 

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