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Biographies of Footballers

Biographies of Footballers

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Neymar, in full Neymar da Silva Santos, Jr., (born February 5, 1992, Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil), Brazilian football (soccer) player who was one of the most prolific scorers in his country’s storied football history.

Neymar began playing football as a boy in São Vicente, under the guidance of his father, a former professional footballer who remained a close adviser and mentor throughout his son’s career. Having played street and indoor five-a-side football, Neymar joined Portuguesa Santista’s youth team in São Vicente, and in 2003 he and his family moved to Santos. There Neymar, who was already an impressive player, joined the youth academy of Santos FC (the same club for which Brazilian football legend Pelé starred over the majority of his domestic career). At age 14 he had a successful trial with Spain’s Real Madrid, and Santos had to increase its spending to retain him.

Neymar—a slender-framed 5-foot 9-inch (1.75-metre) forward—was supremely confident on the field, with excellent body control, quick reflexes, and explosive speed. He made his first team debut with Santos in 2009. While playing with Santos, he averaged a goal every other match and helped the team win the Libertadores Cup (the most prestigious South American club competition) in 2011. Neymar’s many individual honours with Santos included the South American Footballer of the Year title in 2011 and 2012.

In June 2013 Neymar signed a five-year contract with FC Barcelona after a trade with Santos in exchange for €57 million (about $76 million), one of the most expensive soccer transfers in history. Two years later he helped Barcelona capture the “treble” of a La Liga championship, a Copa del Rey title, and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League title. While Neymar was instrumental in Barcelona’s success from 2013 to 2017, totaling 105 goals in 186 games with the club across all competitions, he longed to get out of the shadow of teammate Lionel Messi, one of the greatest players in football history. As a result, in August 2017 he engineered a departure to the French club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for a then record €222 million ($263 million) transfer fee. In addition to being the new face of PSG, Neymar also became the highest-paid player in the world, with a €45 million ($53 million) annual salary. He appeared in just 30 matches during his first season with PSG, scoring 28 goals for the club before breaking a bone in his right foot.

Internationally, Neymar was considered for the Brazilian side that participated in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but he was ultimately not included on the squad. Instead, he made his debut for the national team in August 2010, in a friendly match against the U.S., where he scored his first international goal in Brazil’s 2–0 win. He scored four goals for Brazil at the 2013 Confederations Cup, including one in the team’s 3–0 victory over Spain in the final, and won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most valuable player as well as the Bronze Boot as its third highest scorer. Neymar starred for Brazil when his home country hosted the 2014 World Cup, scoring four goals in five games before he was knocked out of the competition with a fractured vertebra in the quarterfinals. Without the team’s most important player, Brazil lost by a shocking 7–1 margin to eventual-champion Germany in the semifinals. Despite his early exit from the tournament, Neymar won the Bronze Boot. At the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, he led the Brazilian men’s side to its first Olympic gold medal, scoring the winning penalty in extra time of the final match against Germany. He scored two goals at the 2018 World Cup but was as well-known for his many theatrical embellishments of fouls during that tournament (Neymar was the most-fouled player in the event) as for his on-field play. Brazil’s World Cup appearance ended with a quarterfinal loss to Belgium.

Off field, Neymar experienced legal troubles. In 2012 a Brazilian court ordered him and his father to pay substantial back taxes from 2007 to 2008. An appeal was denied in 2016, and that year a Brazilian court additionally found Neymar guilty of having falsified documents in order to avoid paying taxes on income received in 2011–13. The player and his father were also called into Spanish court after an investment fund that had sponsored him alleged that it had been defrauded during his 2013 transfer to Barcelona.

Move to the NFL

Standing 6&apos3" tall and weighing around 240 pounds, Tebow was referred to by one NFL coach as "the strongest human being that&aposs ever played the position [of quarterback]." He was chosen by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2010 draft and signed a five-year contract to play second string behind Broncos QB Kyle Orton.

After a 1-4 start to the 2011 season, Tebow replaced Orton as the Broncos&apos starting quarterback. In his first start, he led the Broncos to a come-from-behind 18-15 overtime victory against the Miami Dolphins, after being down 15-0 with less than three minutes left in the game. Tebow led the team to six wins in their next eight games and into the playoffs. The Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card game of the playoffs before losing to the New England Patriots in the division championship game, ending Tebow’s first season as the Broncos starting quarterback.

A few months after the season came to an end, in March 2012, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets in a firestorm of media attention and scrutiny. There was much debate as to whether he would replace Mark Sanchez as the team&aposs starting quarterback. However, as the football season began, Sanchez remained in the leading position. Tebow only played briefly during the Jets&apos first game against the Buffalo Bills in September 2012 — a pattern that would prove to be consistent throughout the rest of the season. 

By the end of 2012, he had participated in only 72 offensive snaps with the New York team. In late April 2013, the Jets released Tebow, after the team was unable to find a trade partner.

In June 2013, it was announced that the New England Patriots had signed Tebow, reportedly to a two-year contract. "Tim is a talented player, is smart and works hard. We&aposll see how it goes," Patriots coach Bill Belichick stated in an interview with ESPN. However, after spending 12 weeks as the quarterback for the Patriots, Tebow was released from his contract. The decision to release Tebow occurred when all NFL teams had to cut their rosters to 53 players. In response, Tebow said "I&aposm blessed, because of my faith, that I don&apost have to worry about the future because I know who holds my future."

After training with noted quarterbacks coach Tom House with the goal of returning to the NFL, Tebow got his shot by agreeing to a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles in April 2015. He appeared in four preseason games for the Eagles, before getting released in early September 2015.

Biographies of Footballers - History

David Beckham is one of the top football players in the world over the last 10 years. He has played for teams such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, and AC Milan. He is also perhaps the most famous player to play in the US soccer league Major League Soccer.

Where did David Beckham grow up?

David Beckham was born in Leytonstone, England on May 2, 1975. He grew up loving the game of football. His favorite team was Manchester United, just like his dad. All David ever wanted to be was a professional football player. Fortunately for David, he was skilled in football and progressed quickly up the ranks of football until he reached the top in 1993 at the age of 18 and played his first game for Manchester United's first team.

David is perhaps best known for his time as a football star for Manchester United. He made a number of appearances and played a major role for their team starting with the 1995-1996 season and through the next eight seasons. Manchester U won 6 Premier League titles during that time. Beckham scored 62 goals with the team over the years and became an international football superstar.

In 2003 David went to play for Real Madrid in the Spanish league La Liga. He played for Real Madrid for the next 4 years until 2007 when he went to play in the MLS for the LA Galaxy. David's move to the Galaxy was big news in the football world. He was the most famous football player to play in the United States and was signed to a $32.5 million contract. In 2013 he went to play for PSG in the French league. He retired at the end of the 2013 season.

David has also played a lot of international football matches for the England national football team. He was captain of the team from 2000-2006 and has played for them a record 115 times and scored 17 goals.



In Argentina, however, Maradona was always more than just a sports hero -- he was a divine figure. It was the Houston Chronicle that described Maradona perfectly: he was the combination of Michael Jordan's athleticism, Babe Ruth's power and Mike Tyson's human fallibility. In a country that survived many social frustrations and several military dictatorships, El Diego became a symbol of hope and an idol to millions.

The nickname, "El Pibe de Oro", have some old Argentine tradition in it. Jonathan Wilson describes the pibe in the book Angels with Dirty Faces: "the urchin who will make his way trough life with a combination of charm and cunning" and as a football player the pibe remains "absolved of responsibility encouraged almost, never to mature into adulthood".

Early Signs of Greatness

Diego Maradona was born 30 October 1960 and grew up under poor conditions in Villa Fiorito near Buenos Aires as the fourth child of Tota and Chitori Maradona. Three years old, Diego received a ball as a birthday present from a cousin and it become a dear companion from the start.

His exceptional talent was obvious from a very young age. When he was eight years old, he came to Argentinos Juniors for trials. When the coaches saw what he could do with the ball, they asked Maradona to give them his identification card they simply couldn't believe that the boy was really that young (in reality, he was small for his age). Once it became clear that Maradona wasn't lying, the coaches decided to devote themselves to improving his skills.

Even before he was ready to play matches for the senior team, the prodigy was in the spotlight: when Argeninos Juniors played, he would perform tricks with the ball at halftime. The reputation grow and he would be guesting a television show doing tricks with both the ball and an orange.

Diego as young football player.

Argentinos and Boca

At 15 years old, Maradona made his official debut for Argentinos Juniors first team and became the youngest player ever in the Primera. A few months later, he made his debut in the Argentina national team, in a friendly against Hungary. This happened in early 1977, the year before Argentina would be hosting the World Cup. César Luis Menotti, the coach of the national team, finally decided to exclude the big talent from the World Cup squad – Diego was devastated.

Maradona spent five years at the Argentinos Juniors, scoring 116 goals in 166 appearances (during this time, he met Claudia Villafañe who some years later would become his wife). When the time came to move on, he was able to choose between several well-paid offers. Although River Plate offered the most money, Maradona made his decision clear -- he wanted to play for Boca Juniors, the team he supported from his childhood. One of his dream would be fulfilled after Boca winning the league title that season.

Barcelona and Napoli

Despite the fact that he would only play a single season for Boca, Maradona made it a special one. With 28 goals in 40 appearances, he led the team to a Primera Division title. At the end of the season, he took part at his first World Cup. By all accounts, it was not a great tournament for El Diego. Due to internal tensions within the team and the opposing players fouling him at every opportunity, Maradona couldn't assert his dominance. After losing against Brazil (in a match that Maradona received a red card after kicking a Brazilian player in the midriff) and Italy, Argentina failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

Still, this setback didn't stop Maradona from being transferred to FC Barcelona for a world record fee of $7.3 million. In the 26 June 1983 El Clasico, Maradona became the first Barcelona player to receive standing ovations from Real Madrid fans. Still, the Argentinian star didn't make the great impact in La Liga many had expected from him. The circumstances were not ideal. On the pitch Diego was constantly fouled, culminating in a broken leg after a horrific tackle by Goikoetxea. And outside the pitch the relations with the staff was sometimes bad (to change this to the better, Menotti was hired as a coach), and there were numerous parties -- Maradona made his first acquaintance with cocaine in his Barcelona days.

Finally, a controversial field incident against Bilbao in front of King Juan Carlos and another 100,000 fans forced Barcelona executives to transfer Maradona out. What happened was one of the ugliest brawls on a pitch between two top football teams and with Maradona in the midpoint.

In 1984, Maradona was transferred to Napoli for another world record fee of $13 million. Upon his arrival in Naples, a local newspaper noted that the city lacked schools, buses, houses, employment, and sanitation, but none of that mattered as they had Maradona. Once he saw the 75,000 Neapolitans at his presentation, Maradona decided that he would repay their love by giving it all on the pitch. The Argentinian surely made an impression in his first Seria A season (Napoli came third after Juventus and Roma), but much more was to come. In the meantime, the World Cup finals was to take place in Mexico.

Maradona in the Napoli shirt.

Mexico 1986

By the time the 1986 World Cup rolled around, there was no doubt about who the best football player in the world was. This time, there was no stopping him, with violent fouls or otherwise -- he was simply too fast and too powerful for everyone else, and the referees didn't allow the foul play that had been an effective method for the opponents four years ago. Thanks to his low center of gravity, ball control, dribbling skills, vision, passing, and reaction times, Maradona exerted his power against every player and every team he faced at the tournament.

"The Hand of God".

After eliminating old rivals Uruguay, Argentina was set to face England in the quarter-finals. This was the match where Maradona's legend was fully cemented. Just 4 minutes after sparking his team to a 1-0 lead by scoring with his hand -- an incident which he later called the "Hand of God" -- Maradona did something even more unthinkable. He received the ball in his team's half and then ran past five English players before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Shilton. Eleven touches, 60 meters. The goal of the century.

On the way to finish off the most classic of all solo goals.

Maradona followed this up by scoring a brace against Belgium in the semi-finals, setting up the final match against West Germany. Though the Germans managed to contain him by double-marking, Maradona still decided the match by assisting Burruchaga for the winning goal. After leading his country to the first World Cup title in their history, Maradona was unanimously voted Player of the Tournament.

The grand Napoli era

Following the triumphant end to the World Cup, Maradona returned to club football. In his first season back, he led Napoli to a Serie A title. This was the first time that a team from the south of the country won a league title, and it happened at a time when North-South tensions were at a peak. After finishing the following two seasons as runners-up, Napoli won their second scudetto in 1990.

Fall from Grace

Despite his success on the field, Maradona's personal life was getting worse and worse. Despite the success on the field, his personal life was getting worse and worse. In the football crazy Naples, the ball genius had become almost a semi-god but on the same time a victim for his own success with fans wanting him to as their property.

Diego started to look for refuges. He seemed to have vague connections with the Giuliano clan, a powerful part of the Camorra crime syndicate and was seen on a party arranged by the boss Carmine Giuliano. And unbeknownst to many, he was harboring a cocaine addiction since the mid-80s. Eventually, this impeded his ability to play football. Though that didn't stop from taking Argentina to another World Cup final in 1990, West Germany was too tough of an obstacle to overcome this time. The tournament was played in Italy, Maradona&rsquos second home country at this time. When Argentina played against the home nation in Napoli, the Neapolitans was saluting their idol and many of them had a hard time to decide which team they favored.

Maradona in the World Cup 1990 semi-final vs. Italy.

But the life in Naples got to the worse. The press started to write about him and his mistress Cristiana Sinagra and their child that had been born in 1986 without public knowledge (a child that Diego would deny any connections to for a long time). Following a failed drug test for cocaine, Maradona finally left Napoli in 1991. He got a 15-month suspension during his drinking and cocaine abuse continued until he finally accepted a detox program and soon began to train again.

After the suspension, he joined for Sevilla, coached by the former Argentine national coach Carlos Bilardo. Maradona would play only 26 matches in his new Spanish club and it was far from the success that had been in Napoli. After a debacle with the coach after being substitute in a game against Burgos in June 1993, Maradona had done his last match in Sevilla.

He returned again to Argentina and joined Newell's Old Boys, but this part of his career would only involve seven games.

33-years old, he recorded his final two national team appearances at the 1994 World Cup, where an impressing comeback on the field was overshadowed by a positive drug test for ephedrine doping. He finished his national team career with 34 goals in 91 appearances.

Maradona's last club would when be Boca Juniors (1995-1997) before calling it quits in 1997.

Later life and legacy

Maradona's cocaine addiction went on until 2004 around the same time, he finally quit drinking and underwent a gastric bypass surgery. In 2008, he took over as the coach of the Argentinian national team. He kept that position until the 2010 World Cup, when he was sacked following a 4-0 defeat to Germany.

Despite his controversial personal life, Maradona's impact on the game of football can't be denied. When asked about Maradona, Michel Platini said, "The things I could do with a football, he could do with an orange." Even beyond his incredible on-pitch talent, Maradona was known as someone who was never afraid to speak his mind on a range of issues on behalf of his teammates. Most of the time, that was enough.


Maradona had health problems in his older days, partly depending on his alcohol dependency. He was
saved from a serious brain blood clot in early November 2020, but later the same month, the 25th, he suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 60.

The best football player ever?

Diego Armando Maradona is by many considered as the greatest football player of all time. The Argentinian &ldquonumber ten&rdquo became its nations savior then helping his team to a World Cup triumph in 1986. It was the second victory in World Cup for Argentina and it would never had happened without Maradona.

Maradona have become a living legend and the title as &ldquothe best player ever&rdquo was often split – depending on preferences – by him and Pelé. Several Argentinian players have now and when been hailed as &ldquothe new Maradona&rdquo, such as Ariel Ortega and Aymar. But not until a certain Lionel Messi arrived to the planet of soccer, there have never been any on an equal level.

The discussion about who the best player is has progressed along with Messi&rsquos development as a footballer. The arguments that Maradona is the better of the both players can be made on such facts that he did both Argentina and Napoli to champions. Messi have not won the World Cup with his national team and FC Barcelona was already the domestic champions then he arrived. The arguments could of course consider many more aspects, the football journalist Jonathan Wilson writes about Maradona: "It wasn't just about his technical ability, about his gambetas, his free kicks, and his goals, but about him as an inspiration and an organizer. Of the other greats, perhaps only Cruyff -- although in a different way -- could match his on-field tactical brain".

Jürgen Klinsmann

Photo: Denis Paquin/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Picking up the mantle from predecessors like Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller, Jürgen Klinsmann contributed heartily to Germany&aposs storied soccer history. Twice named his country&aposs player of the year, the striker helped West Germany claim the 1990 World Cup and captained a unified German side to victory at Euro 1996. Klinsmann starred on the club level as well, winning a pair of UEFA Cups and a league title during his time with Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. He then moved on to a successful coaching career, guiding Germany to a third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup and pushing an upstart American World Cup team out of the "group of death" stage in 2014.

Position of Trust

Andy Woodward (Coronet)

&ldquoIt was all I ever wanted to do,&rdquo writes Andy Woodward, reflecting on his formative years as a young footballer. Upon meeting youth coach Barry Bennell, Woodward&rsquos life dramatically changed.

He was part of Crewe&rsquos famed youth team, later turning out for Bury and Sheffield United. But this isn&rsquot really a book about football rather how Bennell groomed and sexually abused the young defender over several years, before entrenching himself further into Woodward&rsquos life by marrying his sister Lynda.

Bennell&rsquos systematic abuse has cast a long shadow on Woodward, and Position of Trust lays bare the panic attacks, flashbacks and trust issues which have blighted his life. In 2018, Bennell was jailed for 31 years.

Woodward&rsquos willingness to tell his story has already been a catalyst for other abuse victims to speak out, and for clubs to tighten up on safeguarding. A brave and harrowing read about the devastating impact of abuse.


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 (FA). The name association football was coined to distinguish the game from the other forms of football played at the time, specifically rugby football. The first written "reference to the inflated ball used in the game" was in the mid-14th century: "Þe heued fro þe body went, Als it were a foteballe." [9] The Online Etymology Dictionary states that the "rules of the game" were made in 1848, before the "split off in 1863". [10]

The term soccer comes from Oxford "-er" slang, which was prevalent at Oxford University in England from about 1875, and is thought to have been borrowed from the slang of Rugby School. The slang also gave rise to rugger for Rugby football, fiver and tenner for a five pound and ten pound note, and the now archaic footer for association football. [11] The word soccer (which arrived at its final form in 1895) was first recorded in 1889 in the earlier form of socca. [12]

Within the English-speaking world, association football is now usually called "football" in the United Kingdom, whereas people usually call it "soccer" in countries where other codes of football are prevalent, such as Australia, [13] Canada, South Africa and the United States. A notable exception is New Zealand, where in the first two decades of the 21st century, under the influence of international television, "football" has been gaining prevalence, despite the dominance of other codes of football, namely rugby union, and rugby league. [14]

Kicking ball games arose independently multiple times across multiple cultures. The Chinese competitive game cuju (蹴鞠, literally "kick ball") resembles modern association football. [16] Cuju players could use any part of the body apart from hands and the intent was kicking a ball through an opening into a net. During the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), cuju games were standardised and rules were established. [17]

Phaininda and episkyros were Greek ball games. [18] [19] An image of an episkyros player depicted in low relief on a vase at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens [15] appears on the UEFA European Championship trophy. [20] Athenaeus, writing in 228 CE, referenced the Roman ball game harpastum. Phaininda, episkyros and harpastum were played involving hands and violence. They all appear to have resembled rugby football, wrestling and volleyball more than what is recognizable as modern football. [17] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] As with pre-codified "mob football", the antecedent of all modern football codes, these three games involved more handling the ball than kicking. [26] [27]

Other games included kemari in Japan and chuk-guk in Korea. [28] [29] In North America, pasuckuakohowog was a ball game played by the Algonquians it was described as "almost identical to the kind of folk football being played in Europe at the same time, in which the ball was kicked through goals". [30]

Association football in itself does not have a classical history. [20] Notwithstanding any similarities to other ball games played around the world FIFA has recognised that no historical connection exists with any game played in antiquity outside Europe. [31] The modern rules of association football are based on the mid-19th century efforts to standardise the widely varying forms of football played in the public schools of England. The history of football in England dates back to at least the eighth century CE. [32]

The Cambridge rules, first drawn up at Cambridge University in 1848, were particularly influential in the development of subsequent codes, including association football. The Cambridge rules were written at Trinity College, Cambridge, at a meeting attended by representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury schools. They were not universally adopted. During the 1850s, many clubs unconnected to schools or universities were formed throughout the English-speaking world, to play various forms of football. Some came up with their own distinct codes of rules, most notably the Sheffield Football Club, formed by former public school pupils in 1857, [33] which led to formation of a Sheffield FA in 1867. In 1862, John Charles Thring of Uppingham School also devised an influential set of rules. [34]

These ongoing efforts contributed to the formation of The Football Association (The FA) in 1863, which first met on the morning of 26 October 1863 at the Freemasons' Tavern in Great Queen Street, London. [35] The only school to be represented on this occasion was Charterhouse. The Freemasons' Tavern was the setting for five more meetings between October and December, which eventually produced the first comprehensive set of rules. At the final meeting, the first FA treasurer, the representative from Blackheath, withdrew his club from the FA over the removal of two draft rules at the previous meeting: the first allowed for running with the ball in hand the second for obstructing such a run by hacking (kicking an opponent in the shins), tripping and holding. Other English rugby clubs followed this lead and did not join the FA and instead in 1871 formed the Rugby Football Union. The eleven remaining clubs, under the charge of Ebenezer Cobb Morley, went on to ratify the original thirteen laws of the game. [35] These rules included handling of the ball by "marks" and the lack of a crossbar, rules which made it remarkably similar to Victorian rules football being developed at that time in Australia. The Sheffield FA played by its own rules until the 1870s with the FA absorbing some of its rules until there was little difference between the games. [36]

The world's oldest football competition is the FA Cup, which was founded by the footballer and cricketer Charles W. Alcock, and has been contested by English teams since 1872. The first official international football match also took place in 1872, between Scotland and England in Glasgow, again at the instigation of C.W. Alcock. England is also home to the world's first football league, which was founded in Birmingham in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor. [37] The original format contained 12 clubs from the Midlands and Northern England. [38]

The laws of the game are determined by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). [39] The board was formed in 1886 [40] after a meeting in Manchester of The Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales, and the Irish Football Association. FIFA, the international football body, was formed in Paris in 1904 and declared that they would adhere to Laws of the Game of the Football Association. [41] The growing popularity of the international game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to the International Football Association Board in 1913. The board consists of four representatives from FIFA and one representative from each of the four British associations. [42]

Football is played at a professional level all over the world. Millions of people regularly go to football stadiums to follow their favourite teams, [43] while billions more watch the game on television or on the internet. [44] [45] A very large number of people also play football at an amateur level. According to a survey conducted by FIFA published in 2001, over 240 million people from more than 200 countries regularly play football. [46] Football has the highest global television audience in sport. [47]

In many parts of the world football evokes great passions and plays an important role in the life of individual fans, local communities, and even nations. R. Kapuscinski says that Europeans who are polite, modest, or humble fall easily into rage when playing or watching football games. [48] The Ivory Coast national football team helped secure a truce to the nation's civil war in 2006 [49] and it helped further reduce tensions between government and rebel forces in 2007 by playing a match in the rebel capital of Bouaké, an occasion that brought both armies together peacefully for the first time. [50] By contrast, football is widely considered to have been the final proximate cause for the Football War in June 1969 between El Salvador and Honduras. [51] The sport also exacerbated tensions at the beginning of the Croatian Independence War of the 1990s, when a match between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade degenerated into rioting in May 1990. [52]

Women's association football

Early women's football

Women may have been playing "football" for as long as the game has existed. Evidence shows that an ancient version of the game (Tsu Chu) was played by women during the Han Dynasty (25–220 CE). Two female figures are depicted in Han Dynasty (25–220 CE) frescoes, playing Tsu Chu. [53] There are, however, a number of opinions about the accuracy of dates, the earliest estimates at 5000 BCE. [54]

Association football, the modern game, also has documented early involvement of women. An annual competition in Mid-Lothian, Scotland during the 1790s is reported, too. [55] [56] In 1863, football governing bodies introduced standardised rules to prohibit violence on the pitch, making it more socially acceptable for women to play. [57] The first match recorded by the Scottish Football Association took place in 1892 in Glasgow. In England, the first recorded game of football between women took place in 1895. [57] [58]

The best-documented early European team was founded by activist Nettie Honeyball in England in 1894. It was named the British Ladies' Football Club. Nettie Honeyball is quoted, "I founded the association late last year [1894], with the fixed resolve of proving to the world that women are not the 'ornamental and useless' creatures men have pictured. I must confess, my convictions on all matters where the sexes are so widely divided are all on the side of emancipation, and I look forward to the time when ladies may sit in Parliament and have a voice in the direction of affairs, especially those which concern them most." [59] Honeyball and those like her paved the way for women's football. However, the women's game was frowned upon by the British football associations, and continued without their support. It has been suggested that this was motivated by a perceived threat to the 'masculinity' of the game. [60]

Women's football became popular on a large scale at the time of the First World War, when employment in heavy industry spurred the growth of the game, much as it had done for men 50 years earlier. The most successful team of the era was Dick, Kerr Ladies F.C. of Preston, England. The team played in the first women's international matches in 1920, against a team from Paris, France, in April, and also made up most of the England team against a Scottish Ladies XI in 1920, and winning 22–0. [55]

Despite being more popular than some men's football events (one match saw a 53,000 strong crowd), [61] women's football in England suffered a blow in 1921 when The Football Association outlawed the playing of the game on Association members' pitches, on the grounds that the game (as played by women) was distasteful. [62] Some speculated that this may have also been due to envy of the large crowds that women's matches attracted. [63] This led to the formation of the English Ladies Football Association and play moved to rugby grounds. [64]

Association football has been played by women since at least the time of the first recorded women's games in the late 19th century. [65] [66] It has traditionally been associated with charity games and physical exercise, particularly in the United Kingdom. [66] In the late 1960s and early 1970s, women's association football was organised in the United Kingdom, eventually becoming the most prominent team sport for British women. [66]

20th and 21st century

The growth in women's football has seen major competitions being launched at both national and international level mirroring the male competitions. Women's football has faced many struggles. It had a "golden age" in the United Kingdom in the early 1920s when crowds reached 50,000 at some matches [67] this was stopped on 5 December 1921 when England's Football Association voted to ban the game from grounds used by its member clubs. The FA's ban was rescinded in December 1969 with UEFA voting to officially recognise women's football in 1971. [66]

The FIFA Women's World Cup was inaugurated in 1991 and has been held every four years since, [68] while women's football has been an Olympic event since 1996. [69]

Association football is played in accordance with a set of rules known as the Laws of the Game. The game is played using a spherical ball of 68–70 cm (27–28 in) circumference, [70] known as the football (or soccer ball). Two teams of eleven players each compete to get the ball into the other team's goal (between the posts and under the bar), thereby scoring a goal. The team that has scored more goals at the end of the game is the winner if both teams have scored an equal number of goals then the game is a draw. Each team is led by a captain who has only one official responsibility as mandated by the Laws of the Game: to represent their team in the coin toss prior to kick-off or penalty kicks. [4]

The primary law is that players other than goalkeepers may not deliberately handle the ball with their hands or arms during play, though they must use both their hands during a throw-in restart. Although players usually use their feet to move the ball around they may use any part of their body (notably, "heading" with the forehead) [71] other than their hands or arms. [72] Within normal play, all players are free to play the ball in any direction and move throughout the pitch, though players may not pass to teammates who are in an offside position. [73]

During gameplay, players attempt to create goal-scoring opportunities through individual control of the ball, such as by dribbling, passing the ball to a teammate, and by taking shots at the goal, which is guarded by the opposing goalkeeper. Opposing players may try to regain control of the ball by intercepting a pass or through tackling the opponent in possession of the ball however, physical contact between opponents is restricted. Football is generally a free-flowing game, with play stopping only when the ball has left the field of play or when play is stopped by the referee for an infringement of the rules. After a stoppage, play recommences with a specified restart. [74]

At a professional level, most matches produce only a few goals. For example, the 2005–06 season of the English Premier League produced an average of 2.48 goals per match. [75] The Laws of the Game do not specify any player positions other than goalkeeper, [76] but a number of specialised roles have evolved. [77] Broadly, these include three main categories: strikers, or forwards, whose main task is to score goals defenders, who specialise in preventing their opponents from scoring and midfielders, who dispossess the opposition and keep possession of the ball to pass it to the forwards on their team. Players in these positions are referred to as outfield players, to distinguish them from the goalkeeper.

These positions are further subdivided according to the area of the field in which the player spends the most time. For example, there are central defenders and left and right midfielders. The ten outfield players may be arranged in any combination. The number of players in each position determines the style of the team's play more forwards and fewer defenders creates a more aggressive and offensive-minded game, while the reverse creates a slower, more defensive style of play. While players typically spend most of the game in a specific position, there are few restrictions on player movement, and players can switch positions at any time. [78] The layout of a team's players is known as a formation. Defining the team's formation and tactics is usually the prerogative of the team's manager. [79]

There are 17 laws in the official Laws of the Game, each containing a collection of stipulation and guidelines. The same laws are designed to apply to all levels of football, although certain modifications for groups such as juniors, seniors, women and people with physical disabilities are permitted. The laws are often framed in broad terms, which allow flexibility in their application depending on the nature of the game. The Laws of the Game are published by FIFA, but are maintained by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). [80] In addition to the seventeen laws, numerous IFAB decisions and other directives contribute to the regulation of football. [81] [82]

Players, equipment, and officials

Each team consists of a maximum of eleven players (excluding substitutes), one of whom must be the goalkeeper. Competition rules may state a minimum number of players required to constitute a team, which is usually seven. Goalkeepers are the only players allowed to play the ball with their hands or arms, provided they do so within the penalty area in front of their own goal. Though there are a variety of positions in which the outfield (non-goalkeeper) players are strategically placed by a coach, these positions are not defined or required by the Laws. [76]

The basic equipment or kit players are required to wear includes a shirt, shorts, socks, footwear and adequate shin guards. An athletic supporter and protective cup is highly recommended for male players by medical experts and professionals. [83] [84] Headgear is not a required piece of basic equipment, but players today may choose to wear it to protect themselves from head injury. [85] Players are forbidden to wear or use anything that is dangerous to themselves or another player, such as jewellery or watches. The goalkeeper must wear clothing that is easily distinguishable from that worn by the other players and the match officials. [86]

A number of players may be replaced by substitutes during the course of the game. The maximum number of substitutions permitted in most competitive international and domestic league games is three in ninety minutes with each team being allowed one more if the game should go into extra-time, though the permitted number may vary in other competitions or in friendly matches. Common reasons for a substitution include injury, tiredness, ineffectiveness, a tactical switch, or timewasting at the end of a finely poised game. In standard adult matches, a player who has been substituted may not take further part in a match. [87] IFAB recommends "that a match should not continue if there are fewer than seven players in either team". Any decision regarding points awarded for abandoned games is left to the individual football associations. [88]

A game is officiated by a referee, who has "full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed" (Law 5), and whose decisions are final. The referee is assisted by two assistant referees. In many high-level games there is also a fourth official who assists the referee and may replace another official should the need arise. [89]

Goal line technology is used to measure if the whole ball has crossed the goal-line thereby determining whether a goal has been scored or not this was brought in to prevent there being controversy. Video assistant referees (VAR) have also been increasingly introduced in high-level matches to assist officials through video replays to correct clear and obvious mistakes. There are four types of calls that can be reviewed: mistaken identity in awarding a red or yellow card, goals and whether there was a violation during the buildup, direct red card decisions, and penalty decisions. [90]

The ball is spherical with a circumference of between 68 and 70 cm (27 and 28 in), a weight in the range of 410 to 450 g (14 to 16 oz), and a pressure between 0.6 and 1.1 standard atmospheres (8.5 and 15.6 pounds per square inch) at sea level. In the past the ball was made up of leather panels sewn together, with a latex bladder for pressurisation but modern balls at all levels of the game are now synthetic. [91] [92]


As the Laws were formulated in England, and were initially administered solely by the four British football associations within IFAB, the standard dimensions of a football pitch were originally expressed in imperial units. The Laws now express dimensions with approximate metric equivalents (followed by traditional units in brackets), though use of imperial units remains popular in English-speaking countries with a relatively recent history of metrication (or only partial metrication), such as Britain. [93]

The length of the pitch, or field, for international adult matches is in the range of 100–110 m (110–120 yd) and the width is in the range of 64–75 m (70–80 yd). Fields for non-international matches may be 90–120 m (100–130 yd) length and 45–90 m (50–100 yd) in width, provided that the pitch does not become square. In 2008, the IFAB initially approved a fixed size of 105 m (115 yd) long and 68 m (74 yd) wide as a standard pitch dimension for international matches [94] however, this decision was later put on hold and was never actually implemented. [95]

The longer boundary lines are touchlines, while the shorter boundaries (on which the goals are placed) are goal lines. A rectangular goal is positioned on each goal line, midway between the two touchlines. [96] The inner edges of the vertical goal posts must be 7.32 m (24 ft) apart, and the lower edge of the horizontal crossbar supported by the goal posts must be 2.44 m (8 ft) above the ground. Nets are usually placed behind the goal, but are not required by the Laws. [97]

In front of the goal is the penalty area. This area is marked by the goal line, two lines starting on the goal line 16.5 m (18 yd) from the goalposts and extending 16.5 m (18 yd) into the pitch perpendicular to the goal line, and a line joining them. This area has a number of functions, the most prominent being to mark where the goalkeeper may handle the ball and where a penalty foul by a member of the defending team becomes punishable by a penalty kick. Other markings define the position of the ball or players at kick-offs, goal kicks, penalty kicks and corner kicks. [98]

Duration and tie-breaking methods

90-minute ordinary time

A standard adult football match consists of two halves of 45 minutes each. Each half runs continuously, meaning that the clock is not stopped when the ball is out of play. There is usually a 15-minute half-time break between halves. The end of the match is known as full-time. [99] The referee is the official timekeeper for the match, and may make an allowance for time lost through substitutions, injured players requiring attention, or other stoppages. This added time is called additional time in FIFA documents, [100] [101] but is most commonly referred to as stoppage time or injury time, while lost time can also be used as a synonym. The duration of stoppage time is at the sole discretion of the referee. Stoppage time does not fully compensate for the time in which the ball is out of play, and a 90-minute game typically involves about an hour of "effective playing time". [102] [103] The referee alone signals the end of the match. In matches where a fourth official is appointed, towards the end of the half, the referee signals how many minutes of stoppage time they intend to add. The fourth official then informs the players and spectators by holding up a board showing this number. The signalled stoppage time may be further extended by the referee. [99] Added time was introduced because of an incident which happened in 1891 during a match between Stoke and Aston Villa. Trailing 1–0 and with just two minutes remaining, Stoke were awarded a penalty. Villa's goalkeeper kicked the ball out of the ground, and by the time the ball had been recovered, the 90 minutes had elapsed and the game was over. [104] The same law also states that the duration of either half is extended until the penalty kick to be taken or retaken is completed, thus no game shall end with a penalty to be taken. [105]


In league competitions, games may end in a draw. In knockout competitions where a winner is required various methods may be employed to break such a deadlock some competitions may invoke replays. [106] A game tied at the end of regulation time may go into extra time, which consists of two further 15-minute periods. If the score is still tied after extra time, some competitions allow the use of penalty shootouts (known officially in the Laws of the Game as "kicks from the penalty mark") to determine which team will progress to the next stage of the tournament. Goals scored during extra time periods count towards the final score of the game, but kicks from the penalty mark are only used to decide the team that progresses to the next part of the tournament (with goals scored in a penalty shootout not making up part of the final score). [4]

In competitions using two-legged matches, each team competes at home once, with an aggregate score from the two matches deciding which team progresses. Where aggregates are equal, the away goals rule may be used to determine the winners, in which case the winner is the team that scored the most goals in the leg they played away from home. If the result is still equal, extra time and potentially a penalty shootout are required. [4]

Ball in and out of play

Under the Laws, the two basic states of play during a game are ball in play and ball out of play. From the beginning of each playing period with a kick-off until the end of the playing period, the ball is in play at all times, except when either the ball leaves the field of play, or play is stopped by the referee. When the ball becomes out of play, play is restarted by one of eight restart methods depending on how it went out of play:

    : following a goal by the opposing team, or to begin each period of play. [74] : when the ball has crossed the touchline awarded to the opposing team to that which last touched the ball. [107] : when the ball has wholly crossed the goal line without a goal having been scored and having last been touched by a player of the attacking team awarded to defending team. [108] : when the ball has wholly crossed the goal line without a goal having been scored and having last been touched by a player of the defending team awarded to attacking team. [109] : awarded to the opposing team following "non-penal" fouls, certain technical infringements, or when play is stopped to caution or dismiss an opponent without a specific foul having occurred. A goal may not be scored directly (without the ball first touching another player) from an indirect free kick. [110] : awarded to fouled team following certain listed "penal" fouls. [110] A goal may be scored directly from a direct free kick. : awarded to the fouled team following a foul usually punishable by a direct free kick but that has occurred within their opponent's penalty area. [111] : occurs when the referee has stopped play for any other reason, such as a serious injury to a player, interference by an external party, or a ball becoming defective. [74]



A foul occurs when a player commits an offence listed in the Laws of the Game while the ball is in play. The offences that constitute a foul are listed in Law 12. Handling the ball deliberately, tripping an opponent, or pushing an opponent, are examples of "penal fouls", punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick depending on where the offence occurred. Other fouls are punishable by an indirect free kick. [72]

The referee may punish a player's or substitute's misconduct by a caution (yellow card) or dismissal (red card). A second yellow card in the same game leads to a red card, which results in a dismissal. A player given a yellow card is said to have been "booked", the referee writing the player's name in their official notebook. If a player has been dismissed, no substitute can be brought on in their place and the player may not participate in further play. Misconduct may occur at any time, and while the offences that constitute misconduct are listed, the definitions are broad. In particular, the offence of "unsporting behaviour" may be used to deal with most events that violate the spirit of the game, even if they are not listed as specific offences. A referee can show a yellow or red card to a player, substitute or substituted player. Non-players such as managers and support staff cannot be shown the yellow or red card but may be expelled from the technical area if they fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner. [72]

Rather than stopping play, the referee may allow play to continue if doing so will benefit the team against which an offence has been committed. This is known as "playing an advantage". [112] The referee may "call back" play and penalise the original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue within "a few seconds". Even if an offence is not penalised due to advantage being played, the offender may still be sanctioned for misconduct at the next stoppage of play. [113]

The referee's decision in all on-pitch matters is considered final. [114] The score of a match cannot be altered after the game, even if later evidence shows that decisions (including awards/non-awards of goals) were incorrect.


Along with the general administration of the sport, football associations and competition organisers also enforce good conduct in wider aspects of the game, dealing with issues such as comments to the press, clubs' financial management, doping, age fraud and match fixing. Most competitions enforce mandatory suspensions for players who are sent off in a game. [115] Some on-field incidents, if considered very serious (such as allegations of racial abuse), may result in competitions deciding to impose heavier sanctions than those normally associated with a red card. [c] Some associations allow for appeals against player suspensions incurred on-field if clubs feel a referee was incorrect or unduly harsh. [115]

Sanctions for such infractions may be levied on individuals or on to clubs as a whole. Penalties may include fines, points deductions (in league competitions) or even expulsion from competitions. For example, the English Football League deduct 12 points from any team that enters financial administration. [116] Among other administrative sanctions are penalties against game forfeiture. Teams that had forfeited a game or had been forfeited against would be awarded a technical loss or win.

The recognised international governing body of football (and associated games, such as futsal and beach soccer) is FIFA. The FIFA headquarters are located in Zürich, Switzerland. Six regional confederations are associated with FIFA these are: [117]

  • Asia: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
  • Africa: Confederation of African Football (CAF)
  • Europe: Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)
  • North/Central America & Caribbean: Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)
  • Oceania: Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)
  • South America: Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (South American Football Confederation CONMEBOL)

National associations oversee football within individual countries. These are generally synonymous with sovereign states, (for example: the Cameroonian Football Federation in Cameroon) but also include a smaller number of associations responsible for sub-national entities or autonomous regions (for example the Scottish Football Association in Scotland). 209 national associations are affiliated both with FIFA and with their respective continental confederations. [117]

While FIFA is responsible for arranging competitions and most rules related to international competition, the actual Laws of the Game are set by the International Football Association Board, where each of the UK Associations has one vote, while FIFA collectively has four votes. [42]

International competitions in association football principally consist of two varieties: competitions involving representative national teams or those involving clubs based in multiple nations and national leagues. International football, without qualification, most often refers to the former. In the case of international club competition, it is the country of origin of the clubs involved, not the nationalities of their players, that renders the competition international in nature.

The major international competition in football is the World Cup, organised by FIFA. This competition takes place every four years since 1930 with the exception of 1942 and 1946 tournaments, which were cancelled due to World War II. Approximately 190–200 national teams compete in qualifying tournaments within the scope of continental confederations for a place in the finals. The finals tournament, which is held every four years, involves 32 national teams competing over a four-week period. [d] The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world as well as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games the cumulative audience of all matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup was estimated to be 26.29 billion with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the final match, a ninth of the entire population of the planet. [118] [119] [120] [121] The current champions are France, who won their second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia. The FIFA Women's World Cup has been held every four years since 1991. Under the tournament's current format, national teams vie for 23 slots in a three-year qualification phase. (The host nation's team is automatically entered as the 24th slot.) The current champions are the United States, after winning their fourth title in the 2019 tournament.

There has been a football tournament at every Summer Olympic Games since 1900, except at the 1932 games in Los Angeles. [122] Before the inception of the World Cup, the Olympics (especially during the 1920s) were the most prestigious international event. Originally, the tournament was for amateurs only. [41] As professionalism spread around the world, the gap in quality between the World Cup and the Olympics widened. The countries that benefited most were the Soviet Bloc countries of Eastern Europe, where top athletes were state-sponsored while retaining their status as amateurs. Between 1948 and 1980, 23 out of 27 Olympic medals were won by Eastern Europe, with only Sweden (gold in 1948 and bronze in 1952), Denmark (bronze in 1948 and silver in 1960) and Japan (bronze in 1968) breaking their dominance. For the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the IOC decided to admit professional players. FIFA still did not want the Olympics to rival the World Cup, so a compromise was struck that allowed teams from Africa, Asia, Oceania and CONCACAF to field their strongest professional sides while restricting UEFA and CONMEBOL teams to players who had not played in a World Cup. Since 1992, male competitors must be under 23 years old, although since 1996, three players over the age of 23 have been allowed per squad. A women's tournament was added in 1996 in contrast to the men's event, full international sides without age restrictions play the women's Olympic tournament. [123]

After the World Cup, the most important international football competitions are the continental championships, which are organised by each continental confederation and contested between national teams. These are the European Championship (UEFA), the Copa América (CONMEBOL), African Cup of Nations (CAF), the Asian Cup (AFC), the CONCACAF Gold Cup (CONCACAF) and the OFC Nations Cup (OFC). The FIFA Confederations Cup was contested by the winners of all six continental championships, the current FIFA World Cup champions and the country which was hosting the next World Cup. This was generally regarded as a warm-up tournament for the upcoming FIFA World Cup and did not carry the same prestige as the World Cup itself. The tournament was discontinued following the 2017 edition.

The most prestigious competitions in club football are the respective continental championships, which are generally contested between national champions, for example the UEFA Champions League in Europe and the Copa Libertadores in South America. The winners of each continental competition contest the FIFA Club World Cup. [124]

The governing bodies in each country operate league systems in a domestic season, normally comprising several divisions, in which the teams gain points throughout the season depending on results. Teams are placed into tables, placing them in order according to points accrued. Most commonly, each team plays every other team in its league at home and away in each season, in a round-robin tournament. At the end of a season, the top team is declared the champion. The top few teams may be promoted to a higher division, and one or more of the teams finishing at the bottom are relegated to a lower division. [126]

The teams finishing at the top of a country's league may be eligible also to play in international club competitions in the following season. The main exceptions to this system occur in some Latin American leagues, which divide football championships into two sections named Apertura and Clausura (Spanish for Opening and Closing), awarding a champion for each. [127] The majority of countries supplement the league system with one or more "cup" competitions organised on a knock-out basis.

Some countries' top divisions feature highly paid star players in smaller countries, lower divisions, and most of women's clubs, players may be part-timers with a second job, or amateurs. The five top European leagues – the Bundesliga (Germany), Premier League (England), [128] La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), and Ligue 1 (France) – attract most of the world's best players and each of the leagues has a total wage cost in excess of £600 million/€763 million/US$1.185 billion. [8]

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  3. ^ For example, the English Premier League fined and levied an 8-match suspension on Luis Suárez for racially abusingPatrice Evra
  4. ^ The number of competing teams has varied over the history of the competition. The most recent changed was in 1998, from 24 to 32.
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Gator Football at the University of Florida

Newton chose to attend the University of Florida at the start of his senior year of high school. Many believed Newton had made the right choice. Under the hand of head coach Urban Meyer, the Florida Gators boasted one of college football’s elite programs.

The team&aposs success was fueled by hard, testosterone-driven practices that featured players squaring off one-on-one to wrestle each other to the ground. These contests were largely geared toward players who didn’t play quarterback, but Newton, already a 6&apos5", 230-pound athlete, frequently jumped into the fray.

As a freshman, Newton played in just a handful of games and largely watched from the sidelines as the team’s starting QB, Tim Tebow, steered a Heisman Trophy-winning season. The following year, Newton sat out almost the entire season as a medical redshirt after suffering an ankle injury. The expectation was that Newton would eventually get his time at Florida.


Predecessors Edit

In Ancient Greece, men played a similar sport called Episkyros where they tried to throw a ball over a scrimmage while avoiding tackles. [7]

Forms of traditional football maybe have been played throughout Europe and beyond since antiquity. Many of these may have involved handling of the ball, and scrummage-like formations. These archaic forms of football, typically classified as mob football, could be played between neighboring towns and villages, involving an unlimited number of players on opposing teams, who could clash in a heaving mass of people struggling to drag an inflated pig's bladder by any means possible to markers at each end of a town. By some accounts, in some such events any means could be used to move the ball towards the goal, as long as it did not lead to manslaughter or murder. [8] These antiquated games went into sharp decline in the 19th century when the Highway Act 1835 was passed banning the playing of football on public highways. [9]

Football in America Edit

Although there are some mentions of Native Americans playing football-like games, modern American football has its origins in the traditional football games played in the cities, villages and schools of Europe for many centuries before America was settled by Europeans. Early games appear to have had much in common with the traditional "mob football" played in England. The games remained largely unorganized until the 19th century, when intramural games of football began to be played. Organized varieties of football began to take form in 19th century in English public schools. According to legend, William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran with it during a school football match in 1823, thus creating a new style of play in which running with the ball predominated instead of kicking. Football soon began to be played at colleges and universities in the United States. Each school played its own variety of football. Princeton University students played a game called "ballown" as early as 1820. A Harvard tradition known as "Bloody Monday" began in 1827, which consisted of a mass ballgame between the freshman and sophomore classes, played at The Delta, the space where Memorial Hall now stands. (A poem, "The Battle of the Delta," was written about the first match: "The Freshmen’s wrath, to Sophs the direful spring / Of shins unnumbered bruised, great goddess sing!" [10] ) In 1860, both the town police and the college authorities agreed that Bloody Monday had to go. The Harvard students responded by going into mourning for a mock figure called "Football Fightum", for whom they conducted funeral rites. The authorities held firm and it was a dozen years before football was once again played at Harvard. Dartmouth played its own version called "Old division football", the rules of which were first published in 1871, though the game dates to at least the 1830s. All of these games, and others, shared certain commonalities. They remained largely "mob" style games, with huge numbers of players attempting to advance the ball into a goal area, often by any means necessary. Rules were simple, and violence and injury were common. [11] [12] The violence of these mob-style games led to widespread protests and a decision to abandon them. Yale, under pressure from the city of New Haven, banned the play of all forms of football in 1860. [11]

The game began to return to college campuses by the late 1860s. Yale, Princeton, Rutgers University, and Brown University began playing the popular "kicking" game during this time. In 1867, Princeton used rules based on those of the London Football Association. [11] A "running game", resembling rugby football, was taken up by the Montreal Football Club in Canada in 1868. [2]

Pioneer period (1869–1875) Edit

On November 6, 1869, Rutgers University faced Princeton University (then known as the College of New Jersey) in a game that was played with a round ball and used a set of rules suggested by Rutgers captain William J. Leggett, based on the Football Association's first set of rules, which were an early attempt by the former pupils of England's public schools to unify the rules of their public schools games and create a universal and standardized set of rules for the game of football and bore little resemblance to the American game which would be developed in the following decades. It is still usually regarded as the first game of intercollegiate American football. [2] [3] [11] [13] The game was played at a Rutgers field. Two teams of 25 players attempted to score by kicking the ball into the opposing team's goal. Throwing or carrying the ball was not allowed, but there was plenty of physical contact between players. The first team to reach six goals was declared the winner. Rutgers won by a score of six to four. A rematch was played at Princeton a week later under Princeton's own set of rules (one notable difference was the awarding of a "free kick" to any player that caught the ball on the fly, which was a feature adopted from the Football Association's rules the fair catch kick rule has survived through to modern American game). Princeton won that game by a score of 8–0. Columbia joined the series in 1870, and by 1872 several schools were fielding intercollegiate teams, including Yale and Stevens Institute of Technology. [11]

Rutgers was first to extend the reach of the game. An intercollegiate game was first played in the state of New York when Rutgers played Columbia on November 2, 1872. It was also the first scoreless tie in the history of the fledgling sport. [14] Yale football started the same year and had its first match against Columbia, the nearest college to play football. It took place at Hamilton Park in New Haven and was the first game in New England. The game used a set of rules based on association football with 20-man sides, played on a field 400 by 250 feet. Yale won 3–0, Tommy Sherman scoring the first goal and Lew Irwin the other two. [15]

By 1873, the college students playing football had made significant efforts to standardize their fledgling game. Teams had been scaled down from 25 players to 20. The only way to score was still to bat or kick the ball through the opposing team's goal, and the game was played in two 45 minute halves on fields 140 yards long and 70 yards wide. On October 20, 1873, representatives from Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers met at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City to codify the first set of intercollegiate football rules. Before this meeting, each school had its own set of rules and games were usually played using the home team's own particular code. At this meeting, a list of rules, based more on the Football Association's rules than the rules of the recently founded Rugby Football Union, was drawn up for intercollegiate football games. [11]

Harvard refused to attend the rules conference organized by the other schools and continued to play under its own code. [16] While Harvard's decision to maintain its code made it hard for them to schedule games against other American universities, [17] it agreed to play McGill University, from Montreal, in a two-game series in 1874. Harvard won the first game, in which its rules were used, 3–0. The second game, which was played under rugby regulations, did not have a winner as neither team managed to score. [18]

Harvard quickly took a liking to the rugby game, and its use of the try which, until that time, was not used in American football. The try would later evolve into the score known as the touchdown. On June 4, 1875, Harvard faced Tufts University in the first game between two American colleges played under rules similar to the McGill/Harvard contest, which was won by Tufts. [19] The rules included each side fielding 11 men at any given time, the ball was advanced by kicking or carrying it, and tackles of the ball carrier stopped play. [20] Further elated by the excitement of McGill's version of football, Harvard challenged its closest rival, Yale, to which the Bulldogs accepted. The two teams agreed to play under a set of rules called the "Concessionary Rules", which involved Harvard conceding something to Yale's soccer and Yale conceding a great deal to Harvard's rugby. They decided to play with 15 players on each team. On November 13, 1875, Yale and Harvard played each other for the first time ever, where Harvard won 4–0. At the first The Game—the annual contest between Harvard and Yale, among the 2000 spectators attending the game that day, was the future "father of American football" Walter Camp. Walter, who would enroll at Yale the next year, was torn between an admiration for Harvard's style of play and the misery of the Yale defeat and became determined to avenge Yale's defeat. Spectators from Princeton admired this type of game and it became the most popular version of football there. [11]

Walter Camp: Father of American football Edit

Walter Camp is widely considered to be the most important figure in the development of American football. [1] [2] [3] As a youth, he excelled in sports like track, baseball, and association football, and after enrolling at Yale in 1876, he earned varsity honors in every sport the school offered. [1]

Following the introduction of rugby-style rules to American football, Camp became a fixture at the Massasoit House conventions where rules were debated and changed. Dissatisfied with what seemed to him to be a disorganized mob, he proposed his first rule change at the first meeting he attended in 1878: a reduction from fifteen players to eleven. The motion was rejected at that time but passed in 1880. The effect was to open up the game and emphasize speed over strength. Camp's most famous change, the establishment of the line of scrimmage and the snap from center to quarterback, was also passed in 1880. Originally, the snap was executed with the foot of the center. Later changes made it possible to snap the ball with the hands, either through the air or by a direct hand-to-hand pass. [1]

Camp's new scrimmage rules revolutionized the game, though not always as intended. Princeton, in particular, used scrimmage play to slow the game, making incremental progress towards the end zone during each down. Rather than increase scoring, which had been Camp's original intent, the rule was exploited to maintain control of the ball for the entire game, resulting in slow, unexciting contests. At the 1882 rules meeting, Camp proposed that a team be required to advance the ball a minimum of five yards within three downs. These down-and-distance rules, combined with the establishment of the line of scrimmage and forward pass, transformed the game from a variation of rugby football into the distinct sport and football code of American football. [1]

Camp was central to several more significant rule changes that came to define American football. In 1881, the field was reduced in size to its modern dimensions of 120 by 53 1 ⁄ 3 yards (109.7 by 48.8 meters). Several times in 1883, Camp tinkered with the scoring rules, finally arriving at four points for a touchdown, two points for kicks after touchdowns, two points for safeties, and five for field goals. Camp's innovations in the area of point scoring influenced rugby union's move to point scoring in 1890. In 1887, game time was set at two halves of 45 minutes each. Also in 1887, two paid officials—a referee and an umpire—were mandated for each game. A year later, the rules were changed to allow tackling below the waist, and in 1889, the officials were given whistles and stopwatches. [1]

The last, and arguably most important innovation, which would at last make American football uniquely "American", was the legalization of interference, or blocking, a tactic which was highly illegal under the rugby-style rules. Interference remains strictly illegal in both rugby codes. The prohibition of interference in the rugby game stems from the game's strict enforcement of its offside rule, which prohibited any player on the team with possession of the ball to loiter between the ball and the goal. At first, American players would find creative ways of aiding the runner by pretending to accidentally knock into defenders trying to tackle the runner. When Walter Camp witnessed this tactic being employed against his Yale team, he was at first appalled, but the next year had adopted the blocking tactics for his own team. During the 1880s and 1890s, teams developed increasingly complex blocking tactics including the interlocking interference technique known as the Flying wedge or "V-trick formation", which was developed by Lorin F. Deland and first introduced by Harvard in a collegiate game against Yale in 1892. Despite its effectiveness, it was outlawed two seasons later in 1894 through the efforts of the rule committee led by Parke H. Davis, because of its contribution to serious injury. [21]

After his playing career at Yale ended in 1882, Camp was employed by the New Haven Clock Company until his death in 1925. Though no longer a player, he remained a fixture at annual rules meetings for most of his life, and he personally selected an annual All-American team every year from 1889 through 1924. The Walter Camp Football Foundation continues to select All-American teams in his honor. [22]

Scoring table Edit

Historical college football scoring [23]
Era Touchdown Field goal Conversion (kick) Conversion (touchdown) Safety Conversion safety Defensive conversion
1883 2 5 4 1
1883–1897 4 5 2 2
1898–1903 5 5 1 2
1904–1908 5 4 1 2
1909–1911 5 3 1 2
1912–1957 6 3 1 2
1958–present 6 3 1 2 2 1 2
Note: For brief periods in the late 19th century, some penalties awarded one or more points for the opposing teams, and some teams in the late 19th and early 20th centuries chose to negotiate their own scoring system for individual games.

Period of the American Intercollegiate Football Association (1876–1893) Edit

On November 23, 1876, representatives from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia met at the Massasoit House hotel in Springfield, Massachusetts to standardize a new code of rules based on the rugby game first introduced to Harvard by McGill University in 1874. The rules were based largely on the Rugby Football Union's code from England, though one important difference was the replacement of a kicked goal with a touchdown as the primary means of scoring (a change that would later occur in rugby itself, favoring the try as the main scoring event). Three of the schools—Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton—formed the Intercollegiate Football Association, as a result of the meeting. Yale did not join the group until 1879, because of an early disagreement about the number of players per team. [1]

The first game where one team scored over 100 points happened on October 25, 1884 when Yale routed Dartmouth 113–0. It was also the first time one team scored over 100 points and the opposing team was shut out. [24] The next week, Princeton outscored Lafayette by 140 to 0. [25]

The University of Michigan became the first school west of Pennsylvania to establish a college football team. On May 30, 1879 Michigan beat Racine College 1–0 in a game played in Chicago. The Chicago Daily Tribune called it "the first rugby-football game to be played west of the Alleghenies." [26] Other Midwestern schools soon followed suit, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Minnesota. The first western team to travel east was the 1881 Michigan team, which played at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. [27] [28] The nation's first college football league, the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives (also known as the Western Conference), a precursor to the Big Ten Conference, was founded in 1895. [29]

On April 9, 1880 at Stoll Field, Transylvania University (then called Kentucky University) beat Centre College by the score of 13¾–0 in what is often considered the first recorded game played in the South. [30] The first game of "scientific football" in the South was the first instance of the Victory Bell rivalry between North Carolina and Duke (then known as Trinity College) held on Thanksgiving Day, 1888, at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, North Carolina. [31]

On November 13, 1887 the Virginia Cavaliers and Pantops Academy fought to a scoreless tie in the first organized football game in the state of Virginia. [32] Students at UVA were playing pickup games of the kicking-style of football as early as 1870, and some accounts even claim that some industrious ones organized a game against Washington and Lee College in 1871, just two years after Rutgers and Princeton's historic first game in 1869. But no record has been found of the score of this contest. Washington and Lee also claims a 4 to 2 win over VMI in 1873. [33] Washington and Lee won 4–2. [33] Some industrious students of the two schools organized a game for October 23, 1869 – but it was rained out. [34]

College football expanded greatly during the last two decades of the 19th century. [35] Several major rivalries date from this time period. [36]

November 1890 was an active time in the sport. In Baldwin City, Kansas, on November 22, 1890, college football was first played in the state of Kansas. Baker beat Kansas 22–9. [37] On the 27th, Vanderbilt played Nashville (Peabody) at Athletic Park and won 40–0. It was the first time organized football played in the state of Tennessee. [38] The 29th also saw the first instance of the Army–Navy Game. Navy won 24–0. [39]

The first nighttime football game was played in Mansfield, Pennsylvania on September 28, 1892 between Mansfield State Normal and Wyoming Seminary and ended at halftime in a 0–0 tie. [40] The Army-Navy game of 1893 saw the first documented use of a football helmet by a player in a game. Joseph M. Reeves had a crude leather helmet made by a shoemaker in Annapolis and wore it in the game after being warned by his doctor that he risked death if he continued to play football after suffering an earlier kick to the head. [41]

Period of Rules Committees and Conference (1894–1932) Edit

The beginnings of the contemporary Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference started in 1892. Upon organizing the first Auburn football team in that year, George Petrie arranged for the team to play the University of Georgia team at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia. Auburn won the game, 10–0, in front of 2,000 spectators. The game inaugurated what is known to college football fans as the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. It was in 1894 the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) was founded on December 21, 1894, by Dr. William Dudley, a chemistry professor at Vanderbilt. [42] The original members were Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Sewanee, and Vanderbilt. Clemson, Cumberland, Kentucky, LSU, Mercer, Mississippi, Mississippi A&M (Mississippi State), Southwestern Presbyterian University, Tennessee, Texas, Tulane, and the University of Nashville joined the following year in 1895 as invited charter members. [43] The conference was originally formed for "the development and purification of college athletics throughout the South". [44]

It is thought that the first forward pass in football occurred on October 26, 1895 in a game between Georgia and North Carolina when, out of desperation, the ball was thrown by the North Carolina back Joel Whitaker instead of punted and George Stephens caught the ball. [45] On November 9, 1895 John Heisman executed a hidden ball trick utilizing quarterback Reynolds Tichenor to get Auburn's only touchdown in a 6 to 9 loss to Vanderbilt. It was the first game in the south decided by a field goal. [46] Heisman later used the trick against Pop Warner's Georgia team. Warner picked up the trick and later used it at Cornell against Penn State in 1897. [47] He then used it in 1903 at Carlisle against Harvard and garnered national attention, the play was soon made illegal. [48]

The 1899 Sewanee Tigers are one of the all-time great teams of the early sport. The team went 12–0, outscoring opponents 322 to 10. Known as the "Iron Men", with just 13 men they had a six-day road trip with five shutout wins over Texas A&M Texas Tulane LSU and Ole Miss. It is recalled memorably with the phrase ". and on the seventh day they rested." [49] [50] Grantland Rice called them "the most durable football team I ever saw." [51]

The first college football game in Oklahoma Territory occurred on November 7, 1895 when the 'Oklahoma City Terrors' defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 34 to 0. The Terrors were a mix of Methodist college students and high schoolers. [52] The Sooners did not manage a single first down. By next season, Oklahoma coach John A. Harts had left to prospect for gold in the Arctic. [53] [54] Organized football was first played in the territory on November 29, 1894 between the Oklahoma City Terrors and Oklahoma City High School. The high school won 24 to 0. [53]

In 1891, the first Stanford football team was hastily organized and played a four-game season beginning in January 1892 with no official head coach. Following the season, Stanford captain John Whittemore wrote to Yale coach Walter Camp asking him to recommend a coach for Stanford. To Whittemore's surprise, Camp agreed to coach the team himself, on the condition that he finish the season at Yale first. [55] As a result of Camp's late arrival, Stanford played just three official games, against San Francisco's Olympic Club and rival California. The team also played exhibition games against two Los Angeles area teams that Stanford does not include in official results. [56] [57] Camp returned to the East Coast following the season, but coached Stanford for two further years from 1894–1895. [58]

USC first fielded an American football team in 1888. Playing its first game on November 14 of that year against the Alliance Athletic Club, in which USC gained a 16–0 victory. Frank Suffel and Henry H. Goddard were playing coaches for the first team which was put together by quarterback Arthur Carroll who in turn volunteered to make the pants for the team and later became a tailor. [59] USC faced its first collegiate opponent the following year in fall 1889, playing St. Vincent's College to a 40–0 victory. [59] In 1893, USC joined the Intercollegiate Football Association of Southern California (the forerunner of the SCIAC), which was composed of USC, Occidental College, Throop Polytechnic Institute (Cal Tech), and Chaffey College. Pomona College was invited to enter, but declined to do so. An invitation was also extended to Los Angeles High School. [60]

The Big Game between Stanford and California is the oldest college football rivalry in the West. The first game was played on San Francisco's Haight Street Grounds on March 19, 1892 with Stanford winning 14–10. The term "Big Game" was first used in 1900, when it was played on Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco. During that game, a large group of men and boys, who were observing from the roof of the nearby S.F. and Pacific Glass Works, fell into the fiery interior of the building when the roof collapsed, resulting in 13 dead and 78 injured. [61] [62] [63] [64] [65] On December 4, 1900, the last victim of the disaster (Fred Lilly) died, bringing the death toll to 22 the "Thanksgiving Day Disaster" remains the deadliest accident to kill spectators at a U.S. sporting event. [66]

In May 1900, Fielding H. Yost was hired as the football coach at Stanford University, [67] and, after traveling home to West Virginia, he arrived in Palo Alto, California, on August 21, 1900. [68] Yost led the 1900 Stanford team to a 7–2–1 record, outscoring opponents 154 to 20. [69] The next year in 1901, Yost was hired by Charles A. Baird as the head football coach for the Michigan Wolverines football team. [70] Led by Yost, Michigan became the first "western" national power. From 1901 to 1905, Michigan had a 56-game undefeated streak that included a 1902 trip to play in the first college football bowl game, which later became the Rose Bowl Game. During this streak, Michigan scored 2,831 points while allowing only 40. [71]

In 1906, citing concerns about the violence in American Football, universities on the West Coast, led by California and Stanford, replaced the sport with rugby union. [72] At the time, the future of American football was very much in doubt and these schools believed that rugby union would eventually be adopted nationwide. [72] Other schools followed suit and also made the switch included Nevada, St. Mary's, Santa Clara, and USC (in 1911). [72] However, due to the perception that West Coast football was inferior to the game played on the East Coast anyway, East Coast and Midwest teams shrugged off the loss of the teams and continued playing American football. [72] With no nationwide movement, the available pool of rugby teams to play remained small. [72] The schools scheduled games against local club teams and reached out to rugby union powers in Australia, New Zealand, and especially, due to its proximity, Canada. The annual Big Game between Stanford and California continued as rugby, with the winner invited by the British Columbia Rugby Union to a tournament in Vancouver over the Christmas holidays, with the winner of that tournament receiving the Cooper Keith Trophy. [72] [73] [74]

Violence and controversy (1905) Edit

Charles William Eliot, President of Harvard University (1869–1909) opposing football in 1905. [75]

From its earliest days as a mob game, football was a very violent sport. [11] The 1894 Harvard-Yale game, known as the "Hampden Park Blood Bath", resulted in crippling injuries for four players the contest was suspended until 1897. The annual Army-Navy game was suspended from 1894 to 1898 for similar reasons. [76] One of the major problems was the popularity of mass-formations like the flying wedge, in which a large number of offensive players charged as a unit against a similarly arranged defense. The resultant collisions often led to serious injuries and sometimes even death. [77] Georgia fullback Richard Von Albade Gammon died on the field from a concussion received against Virginia in 1897, causing some southern universities to temporarily stop their football programs. [78]

In 1905 there were 19 fatalities nationwide. President Theodore Roosevelt reportedly threatened to shut down the game if drastic changes were not made. [79] However, though he lectured on eliminating and reducing injuries, and held a meeting of football representatives from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton on October 9, 1905, he never threatened to ban football. He lacked the authority to abolish the game and was actually a fan who wanted to preserve it. The President's sons were playing football at the college and secondary levels at the time. [80]

Meanwhile, John H. Outland held an experimental game in Wichita, Kansas that reduced the number of scrimmage plays to earn a first down from four to three in an attempt to reduce injuries. [81] The Los Angeles Times reported an increase in punts and considered the game much safer than regular play but that the new rule was not "conducive to the sport." [82] Finally, on December 28, 1905, 62 schools met in New York City to discuss rule changes to make the game safer. As a result of this meeting, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, later named the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was formed. [83] One rule change introduced in 1906, devised to open up the game and reduce injury, was the introduction of the legal forward pass. Though it was underutilized for years, this proved to be one of the most important rule changes in the establishment of the modern game. [84]

As a result of the 1905–1906 reforms, mass formation plays became illegal and forward passes legal. Bradbury Robinson, playing for visionary coach Eddie Cochems at St. Louis University, threw the first legal pass in a September 5, 1906, game against Carroll College at Waukesha. Other important changes, formally adopted in 1910, were the requirements that at least seven offensive players be on the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap, that there be no pushing or pulling, and that interlocking interference (arms linked or hands on belts and uniforms) was not allowed. These changes greatly reduced the potential for collision injuries. [85] Several coaches emerged who took advantage of these sweeping changes. Amos Alonzo Stagg introduced such innovations as the huddle, the tackling dummy, and the pre-snap shift. [86] Other coaches, such as Pop Warner and Knute Rockne, introduced new strategies that still remain part of the game. [87] [88]

Besides these coaching innovations, several rules changes during the first third of the 20th century had a profound impact on the game, mostly in opening up the passing game. In 1914, the first roughing-the-passer penalty was implemented. In 1918, the rules on eligible receivers were loosened to allow eligible players to catch the ball anywhere on the field—previously strict rules were in place only allowing passes to certain areas of the field. [89] Scoring rules also changed during this time: field goals were lowered to three points in 1909 [3] and touchdowns raised to six points in 1912. [90]

Star players that emerged in the early 20th century include Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, and Bronko Nagurski these three made the transition to the fledgling NFL and helped turn it into a successful league. Sportswriter Grantland Rice helped popularize the sport with his poetic descriptions of games and colorful nicknames for the game's biggest players, including Notre Dame's "Four Horsemen" backfield and Fordham University's linemen, known as the "Seven Blocks of Granite". [91]

In 1907 at Champaign, Illinois Chicago and Illinois played in the first game to have a halftime show featuring a marching band. [92] Chicago won 42–6. On November 25, 1911 Kansas and Missouri played the first homecoming football game. [93] The game was "broadcast" play-by-play over telegraph to at least 1,000 fans in Lawrence, Kansas. [94] It ended in a 3–3 tie. The game between West Virginia and Pittsburgh on October 8, 1921, saw the first live radio broadcast of a college football game when Harold W. Arlin announced that year's Backyard Brawl played at Forbes Field on KDKA. Pitt won 21–13. [95] On October 28, 1922, Princeton and Chicago played the first game to be nationally broadcast on radio. Princeton won 21–18 in a hotly contested game which had Princeton dubbed the "Team of Destiny." [96]

Notable intersectional games Edit

In 1906 Vanderbilt defeated Carlisle 4–0, the result of a Bob Blake field goal. [97] [98] In 1907 Vanderbilt fought Navy to a 6–6 tie. In 1910 Vanderbilt held defending national champion Yale to a scoreless tie. [98]

Helping Georgia Tech's claim to a title in 1917, the Auburn Tigers held undefeated, Chic Harley led Big Ten champion Ohio State to a scoreless tie the week before Georgia Tech beat the Tigers 68–7. [99] The next season, with many players gone due to World War I, a game was finally scheduled at Forbes Field with Pittsburgh. The Panthers, led by halfback Tom Davies, defeated Georgia Tech 32–0. [100]

1917 saw the rise of another Southern team in Centre of Danville, Kentucky. In 1921 Bo McMillin led Centre upset defending national champion Harvard 6–0 in what is widely considered one of the greatest upsets in college football history. The next year Vanderbilt fought Michigan to a scoreless tie at the inaugural game on Dudley Field, the first stadium in the South made exclusively for college football. Michigan coach Fielding Yost and Vanderbilt coach Dan McGugin were brothers-in-law, and the latter the protege of the former. The game featured the season's two best defenses and included a goal line stand by Vanderbilt to preserve the tie. Its result was "a great surprise to the sporting world." [101] Commodore fans celebrated by throwing some 3,000 seat cushions onto the field. The game features prominently in Vanderbilt's history. [102] That same year, Alabama upset Penn 9–7. [103]

Vanderbilt's line coach then was Wallace Wade, who in 1925 coached Alabama to the south's first Rose Bowl victory. This game is commonly referred to as "the game that changed the south." [104] Wade followed up the next season with an undefeated record and Rose Bowl tie. [105]

Modernization of intercollegiate American football (1933–1969) Edit

In the early 1930s, the college game continued to grow, particularly in the South, bolstered by fierce rivalries such as the "South's Oldest Rivalry", between Virginia and North Carolina and the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry", between Georgia and Auburn. Although before the mid-1920s most national powers came from the Northeast or the Midwest, the trend changed when several teams from the South and the West Coast achieved national success. Wallace William Wade's 1925 Alabama team won the 1926 Rose Bowl after receiving its first national title and William Alexander's 1928 Georgia Tech team defeated California in the 1929 Rose Bowl. College football quickly became the most popular spectator sport in the South. [106]

Several major modern college football conferences rose to prominence during this time period. The Southwest Athletic Conference had been founded in 1915. Consisting mostly of schools from Texas, the conference saw back-to-back national champions with Texas Christian University (TCU) in 1938 and Texas A&M in 1939. [107] [108] The Pacific Coast Conference (PCC), a precursor to the Pac-12 Conference (Pac-12), had its own back-to-back champion in the University of Southern California which was awarded the title in 1931 and 1932. [107] The Southeastern Conference (SEC) formed in 1932 and consisted mostly of schools in the Deep South. [109] As in previous decades, the Big Ten continued to dominate in the 1930s and 1940s, with Minnesota winning 5 titles between 1934 and 1941, and Michigan (1933, 1947, and 1948) and Ohio State (1942) also winning titles. [107] [110]

As it grew beyond its regional affiliations in the 1930s, college football garnered increased national attention. Four new bowl games were created: the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, the Sun Bowl in 1935, and the Cotton Bowl in 1937. In lieu of an actual national championship, these bowl games, along with the earlier Rose Bowl, provided a way to match up teams from distant regions of the country that did not otherwise play. In 1936, the Associated Press began its weekly poll of prominent sports writers, ranking all of the nation's college football teams. Since there was no national championship game, the final version of the AP poll was used to determine who was crowned the National Champion of college football. [111]

The 1930s saw growth in the passing game. Though some coaches, such as General Robert Neyland at Tennessee, continued to eschew its use and was the last college team to produce an undefeated, untied and unscored upon season in 1939. Several rules changes to the game had a profound effect on teams' ability to throw the ball. In 1934, the rules committee removed two major penalties—a loss of five yards for a second incomplete pass in any series of downs and a loss of possession for an incomplete pass in the end zone—and shrunk the circumference of the ball, making it easier to grip and throw. Players who became famous for taking advantage of the easier passing game included Alabama end Don Hutson and TCU passer "Slingin" Sammy Baugh. [112]

In 1935, New York City's Downtown Athletic Club awarded the first Heisman Trophy to University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger, who was also the first ever NFL Draft pick in 1936. The trophy was designed by sculptor Frank Eliscu and modeled after New York University player Ed Smith. The trophy recognizes the nation's "most outstanding" college football player and has become one of the most coveted awards in all of American sports. [113]

During World War II, college football players enlisted in the armed forces, some playing in Europe during the war. As most of these players had eligibility left on their college careers, some of them returned to college at West Point, bringing Army back-to-back national titles in 1944 and 1945 under coach Red Blaik. Doc Blanchard (known as "Mr. Inside") and Glenn Davis (known as "Mr. Outside") both won the Heisman Trophy, in 1945 and 1946 respectively. On the coaching staff of those 1944–1946 Army teams was future Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi. [110] [114]

The 1950s saw the rise of yet more dynasties and power programs. Oklahoma, under coach Bud Wilkinson, won three national titles (1950, 1955, 1956) and all ten Big Eight Conference championships in the decade while building a record 47-game winning streak. Woody Hayes led Ohio State to two national titles, in 1954 and 1957, and dominated the Big Ten conference, winning three Big Ten titles—more than any other school. Wilkinson and Hayes, along with Robert Neyland of Tennessee, oversaw a revival of the running game in the 1950s. Passing numbers dropped from an average of 18.9 attempts in 1951 to 13.6 attempts in 1955, while teams averaged just shy of 50 running plays per game. Nine out of ten Heisman trophy winners in the 1950s were runners. Notre Dame, one of the biggest passing teams of the decade, saw a substantial decline in success the 1950s were the only decade between 1920 and 1990 when the team did not win at least a share of the national title. Paul Hornung, Notre Dame quarterback, did, however, win the Heisman in 1956, becoming the only player from a losing team ever to do so. [115] [116]

The beginning of racial integration started in 1956. Much controversy preceded the 1956 Sugar Bowl, when the Pitt Panthers, with African-American fullback Bobby Grier on the roster, met the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. [117] There had been controversy over whether Grier should be allowed to play due to his race, and whether Georgia Tech should even play at all due to Georgia's Governor Marvin Griffin's opposition to racial integration. [118] [119] [120] After Griffin publicly sent a telegram to the state's Board Of Regents requesting Georgia Tech not to engage in racially integrated events, Georgia Tech's president Blake R Van Leer rejected the request and threatened to resign. The game went on as planned. [121]

Modern intercollegiate football (1970–present) Edit

Following the enormous success of the National Football League's 1958 championship game, college football no longer enjoyed the same popularity as the NFL, at least on a national level. While both games benefited from the advent of television, since the late 1950s, the NFL has become a nationally popular sport while college football has maintained strong regional ties. [122] [123] [124]

As professional football became a national television phenomenon, college football did as well. In the 1950s, Notre Dame, which had a large national following, formed its own network to broadcast its games, but by and large the sport still retained a mostly regional following. In 1952, the NCAA claimed all television broadcasting rights for the games of its member institutions, and it alone negotiated television rights. This situation continued until 1984, when several schools brought a suit under the Sherman Antitrust Act the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA and schools are now free to negotiate their own television deals. ABC Sports began broadcasting a national Game of the Week in 1966, bringing key matchups and rivalries to a national audience for the first time. [125]

New formations and play sets continued to be developed. Emory Bellard, an assistant coach under Darrell Royal at the University of Texas, developed a three-back option style offense known as the wishbone. The wishbone is a run-heavy offense that depends on the quarterback making last second decisions on when and to whom to hand or pitch the ball to. Royal went on to teach the offense to other coaches, including Bear Bryant at Alabama, Chuck Fairbanks at Oklahoma and Pepper Rodgers at UCLA who all adapted and developed it to their own tastes. [126] The strategic opposite of the wishbone is the spread offense, developed by professional and college coaches throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Though some schools play a run-based version of the spread, its most common use is as a passing offense designed to "spread" the field both horizontally and vertically. [127] Some teams have managed to adapt with the times to keep winning consistently. In the rankings of the most victorious programs, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Texas are ranked first, second, and third in total wins. [128]

Growth of bowl games Edit

Growth of bowl
games 1930–2020
Year # of games
1930 1
1940 5
1950 8
1960 8
1970 8
1980 15
1990 19
2000 25
2010 35
2020 40 [130]

In 1940, for the highest level of college football, there were only five bowl games (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Sun, and Cotton). By 1950, three more had joined that number and in 1970, there were still only eight major college bowl games. The number grew to eleven in 1976. At the birth of cable television and cable sports networks like ESPN, there were fifteen bowls in 1980. With more national venues and increased available revenue, the bowls saw an explosive growth throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In the thirty years from 1950 to 1980, seven bowl games were added to the schedule. From 1980 to 2010, an additional 20 bowl games were added to the schedule. [129] [131] Some have criticized this growth, claiming that the increased number of games has diluted the significance of playing in a bowl game. Yet others have countered that the increased number of games has increased exposure and revenue for a greater number of schools, and see it as a positive development. [132]

With the growth of bowl games, it became difficult to determine a national champion in a fair and equitable manner. As conferences became contractually bound to certain bowl games (a situation known as a tie-in), match-ups that guaranteed a consensus national champion became increasingly rare. In 1992, seven conferences and independent Notre Dame formed the Bowl Coalition, which attempted to arrange an annual No.1 versus No.2 matchup based on the final AP poll standings. The Coalition lasted for three years however, several scheduling issues prevented much success tie-ins still took precedence in several cases. For example, the Big Eight and SEC champions could never meet, since they were contractually bound to different bowl games. The coalition also excluded the Rose Bowl, arguably the most prestigious game in the nation, and two major conferences—the Pac-10 and Big Ten—meaning that it had limited success. In 1995, the Coalition was replaced by the Bowl Alliance, which reduced the number of bowl games to host a national championship game to three—the Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange Bowls—and the participating conferences to five—the ACC, SEC, Southwest, Big Eight, and Big East. It was agreed that the No.1 and No.2 ranked teams gave up their prior bowl tie-ins and were guaranteed to meet in the national championship game, which rotated between the three participating bowls. The system still did not include the Big Ten, Pac-10, or the Rose Bowl, and thus still lacked the legitimacy of a true national championship. [131] [133]

Bowl Championship Series Edit

In 1998, a new system was put into place called the Bowl Championship Series. For the first time, it included all major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10, and SEC) and all four major bowl games (Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta). The champions of these six conferences, along with two "at-large" selections, were invited to play in the four bowl games. Each year, one of the four bowl games served as a national championship game. Also, a complex system of human polls, computer rankings, and strength of schedule calculations was instituted to rank schools. Based on this ranking system, the No.1 and No.2 teams met each year in the national championship game. Traditional tie-ins were maintained for schools and bowls not part of the national championship. For example, in years when not a part of the national championship, the Rose Bowl still hosted the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions. [133]

The system continued to change, as the formula for ranking teams was tweaked from year to year. At-large teams could be chosen from any of the Division I conferences, though only one selection—Utah in 2005—came from a BCS non-AQ conference. Starting with the 2006 season, a fifth game—simply called the BCS National Championship Game—was added to the schedule, to be played at the site of one of the four BCS bowl games on a rotating basis, one week after the regular bowl game. This opened up the BCS to two additional at-large teams. Also, rules were changed to add the champions of five additional conferences (Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference and the Western Athletic Conference), provided that said champion ranked in the top twelve in the final BCS rankings, or was within the top 16 of the BCS rankings and ranked higher than the champion of at least one of the "BCS conferences" (also known as "AQ" conferences, for Automatic Qualifying). [133] Several times after this rule change was implemented, schools from non-AQ conferences played in BCS bowl games, most notably Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, in which they upset Oklahoma in overtime. [134] In 2009, Boise State played TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, the first time two schools from BCS non-AQ conferences played each other in a BCS bowl game. [135] The last team from the non-AQ ranks to reach a BCS bowl game was Northern Illinois in 2012, which played in (and lost) the 2013 Orange Bowl. [136] [137] [138]

College Football Playoff Edit

Due to the intensification of the college football playoff debate after nearly a decade of the sometimes disputable results of the BCS, the conference commissioners and Notre Dame's president voted to implement a Plus-One system which was to be called the 'College Football Playoff'. The College Football Playoff is the annual postseason tournament for the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and just as its predecessors, has failed to receive sanctioning from the NCAA. The playoff began with the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season. [139] Four teams play in two semifinal games, and the winners advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship game. [140] The first season of the new system was not without controversy, however, after TCU and Baylor (both with only one loss) both failed to receive the support of the College Football Playoff selection committee. [141] After the first season, the playoff has been dominated by two teams, Alabama and Clemson. At least one of them has appeared in every championship game except the first, and they have combined to win five of the seven games through 2021 include three times when they played each other.

Early players, teams, and leagues (1892–1919) Edit

In the early 20th century, football began to catch on in the general population of the United States and was the subject of intense competition and rivalry, albeit of a localized nature. Although payments to players were considered unsporting and dishonorable at the time, a Pittsburgh area club, the Allegheny Athletic Association, of the unofficial western Pennsylvania football circuit, surreptitiously hired former Yale All-American guard Pudge Heffelfinger. On November 12, 1892, Heffelfinger became the first known professional football player. He was paid $500 to play in a game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Heffelfinger picked up a Pittsburgh fumble and ran 35 yards for a touchdown, winning the game 4–0 for Allegheny. Although observers held suspicions, the payment remained a secret for years. [2] [3] [142] [143]

On September 3, 1895 the first wholly professional game was played, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, between the Latrobe Athletic Association and the Jeannette Athletic Club. Latrobe won the contest 12–0. [2] [3] During this game, Latrobe's quarterback, John Brallier became the first player to openly admit to being paid to play football. He was paid $10 plus expenses to play. [144] In 1897, the Latrobe Athletic Association paid all of its players for the whole season, becoming the first fully professional football team. In 1898, William Chase Temple took over the team payments for the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club, a professional football team based in Pittsburgh from 1895 until 1900, becoming the first known individual football club owner. [145]

Later that year, the Morgan Athletic Club, on the South Side of Chicago, was founded. This team later became the Chicago Cardinals, then the St. Louis Cardinals and now is known as the Arizona Cardinals, making them the oldest continuously operating professional football team. [3]

The first known professional football league, known as the National Football League (not the same as the modern league) began play in 1902 when several baseball clubs formed football teams to play in the league, including the Philadelphia Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Pirates' team the Pittsburgh Stars were awarded the league championship. However, the Philadelphia Football Athletics and Philadelphia Football Phillies also claimed the title. [146] A five-team tournament, known as the World Series of Football was organized by Tom O'Rouke, the manager of Madison Square Garden. The event featured the first-ever indoor pro football games. The first professional indoor game came on December 29, 1902, when the Syracuse Athletic Club defeated the "New York team" 5–0. Syracuse would go on to win the 1902 Series, while the Franklin Athletic Club won the Series in 1903. The World Series only lasted two seasons. [3] [147]

The first black person to be paid for his play in football games is thought to be two-sport athlete Charles Follis, A member of the Shelby Steamfitters for five years starting in 1902, Follis turned professional in 1904. [148]

The game moved west into Ohio, which became the center of professional football during the early decades of the 20th century. Small towns such as Massillon, Akron, Portsmouth, and Canton all supported professional teams in a loose coalition known as the "Ohio League", the direct predecessor to today's National Football League. In 1906 the Canton Bulldogs–Massillon Tigers betting scandal became the first major scandal in professional football in the United States. It was the first known case of professional gamblers attempting to fix a professional sport. Although the Massillon Tigers could not prove that the Canton Bulldogs had thrown the second game, the scandal tarnished the Bulldogs' name and helped ruin professional football in Ohio until the mid-1910s. [149]

In 1915, the reformed Canton Bulldogs signed former Olympian and Carlisle Indian School standout Jim Thorpe to a contract. Thorpe became the face of professional football for the next several years and was present at the founding of the National Football League five years later. [3] [150]

Early years of the NFL (1920–1932) Edit

Formation Edit

In 1920, the American Professional Football Association (APFA) was founded, in a meeting at a Hupmobile car dealership in Canton, Ohio. Jim Thorpe was elected the league's first president. After several more meetings, the league's membership was formalized. The original teams were: [90] [151]

In its early years the league was little more than a formal agreement between teams to play each other and to declare a champion at season's end. Teams were still permitted to play non-league members. The 1920 season saw several teams drop out and fail to play through their schedule. Only four teams: Akron, Buffalo, Canton, and Decatur, finished the schedule. Akron claimed the first league champion, with the only undefeated record among the remaining teams. [90] [152]

The APFA, which later became known as the National Football League (NFL), had a limited number of black players. In the league's first seven years, nine African-Americans played in the APFA/NFL. Two black players took part in the league's inaugural season: Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall. In 1921, Pollard coached in the league, becoming the first African-American to do so. [153]

Expansion Edit

In 1921, several more teams joined the league, increasing the membership to 22 teams. Among the new additions were the Green Bay Packers, which now has the record for longest use of an unchanged team name. Also in 1921, A. E. Staley, the owner of the Decatur Staleys, sold the team to player-coach George Halas, who went on to become one of the most important figures in the first half century of the NFL. In 1921, Halas moved the team to Chicago, but retained the Staleys nickname. In 1922 the team was renamed the Chicago Bears. [154] [155] The Staleys won the 1921 AFPA Championship, over the Buffalo All-Americans in an event later referred to as the "Staley Swindle". [156]

By the mid-1920s, NFL membership had grown to 25 teams, and a rival league known as the American Football League was formed. The rival AFL folded after a single season, but it symbolized a growing interest in the professional game. Several college stars joined the NFL, most notably Red Grange from the University of Illinois, who was taken on a famous barnstorming tour in 1925 by the Chicago Bears. [154] [157] Another scandal that season centered on a 1925 game between the Chicago Cardinals and the Milwaukee Badgers. The scandal involved a Chicago player, Art Folz, hiring a group of high school football players to play for the Milwaukee Badgers, against the Cardinals. This would ensure an inferior opponent for Chicago. The game was used to help prop up their win-loss percentage and as a chance of wrestling away the 1925 Championship away from the first place Pottsville Maroons. All parties were severely punished initially however, a few months later the punishments were rescinded. [158] Also that year a controversial dispute stripped the NFL title from the Maroons and awarded it to the Cardinals. [159]

1932 NFL playoff game Edit

At the end of the 1932 season, the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans were tied with the best regular-season records. To determine the champion, the league voted to hold its first playoff game. Because of cold weather, the game was held indoors at Chicago Stadium, which forced some temporary rule changes. Chicago won, 9–0. The playoff proved so popular that the league reorganized into two divisions for the 1933 season, with the winners advancing to a scheduled championship game. A number of new rule changes were also instituted: the goal posts were moved forward to the goal line, every play started from between the hash marks, and forward passes could originate from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage (instead of the previous five yards behind). [160] [161] [162] In 1936, the NFL instituted the first draft of college players. With the first ever draft selection, the Philadelphia Eagles picked Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger, but he declined to play professionally. [163] Also in that year, another AFL formed, but it also lasted only two seasons. [164]

Stability and growth of the NFL (1933–1969) Edit

The 1930s represented an important time of transition for the NFL. League membership was fluid prior to the mid-1930s. In 1933, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles were founded. 1936 was the first year where there were no franchise moves, [165] prior to that year 51 teams had gone defunct. [151] In 1941, the NFL named its first Commissioner, Elmer Layden. The new office replaced that of President. Layden held the job for five years, before being replaced by Philadelphia Eagles co-owner Bert Bell in 1946. [166]

During World War II, a player shortage led to a shrinking of the league as several teams folded and others merged. Among the short-lived merged teams were the Steagles (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) in 1943, the Card-Pitts (Chicago Cardinals and Pittsburgh) in 1944, and a team formed from the merger of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Yanks in 1945. [151] [166]

1946 was an important year in the history of professional football, as that was the year when the league reintegrated. The Los Angeles Rams signed two African American players, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode. Also that year, a competing league, the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), began operation. [166]

During the 1950s, additional teams entered the league. In 1950, the AAFC folded, and three teams from that league were absorbed into the NFL: the Cleveland Browns (who had won the AAFC Championship every year of the league's existence), the San Francisco 49ers, and the Baltimore Colts (not the same as the modern franchise, this version folded after one year). The remaining players were chosen by the now 13 NFL teams in a dispersal draft. Also in 1950, the Los Angeles Rams became the first team to televise its entire schedule, marking the beginning of an important relationship between television and professional football. [166] In 1952, the Dallas Texans went defunct, becoming the last NFL franchise to do so. [151] The following year a new Baltimore Colts franchise formed to take over the assets of the Texans. The players' union, known as the NFL Players Association, formed in 1956. [167]

The Greatest Game Ever Played Edit

At the conclusion of the 1958 NFL season, the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants met at Yankee Stadium to determine the league champion. Tied after 60 minutes of play, it became the first NFL game to go into sudden death overtime. The final score was Colts 23, Giants 17. The game has since become widely known as "the Greatest Game Ever Played". It was carried live on the NBC television network, and the national exposure it provided the league has been cited as a watershed moment in professional football history, helping propel the NFL to become one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States. [167] [168] [169] Journalist Tex Maule said of the contest, "This, for the first time, was a truly epic game which inflamed the imagination of a national audience." [122]

American Football League and merger Edit

In 1959, longtime NFL commissioner Bert Bell died of a heart attack while attending an Eagles/Steelers game at Franklin Field. That same year, Dallas businessman Lamar Hunt led the formation of the rival American Football League, the fourth such league to bear that name, with war hero and former South Dakota Governor Joe Foss as its Commissioner. Unlike the earlier rival leagues, and bolstered by television exposure, the AFL posed a significant threat to NFL dominance of the professional football world. With the exception of Los Angeles and New York, the AFL avoided placing teams in markets where they directly competed with established NFL franchises. In 1960, the AFL began play with eight teams and a double round-robin schedule of fourteen games. New NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle took office the same year. [167]

The AFL became a viable alternative to the NFL as it made a concerted effort to attract established talent away from the NFL, signing half of the NFL's first-round draft choices in 1960. The AFL worked hard to secure top college players, many from sources virtually untapped by the established league: small colleges and predominantly black colleges. Two of the eight coaches of the Original Eight AFL franchises, Hank Stram (Texans/Chiefs) and Sid Gillman (Chargers) eventually were inducted to the Hall of Fame. Led by Oakland Raiders owner and AFL commissioner Al Davis, the AFL established a "war chest" to entice top talent with higher pay than they got from the NFL. Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Babe Parilli became a star for the Boston Patriots during the early years of the AFL, and University of Alabama passer Joe Namath rejected the NFL to play for the New York Jets. Namath became the face of the league as it reached its height of popularity in the mid-1960s. Davis's methods worked, and in 1966, the junior league forced a partial merger with the NFL. The two leagues agreed to have a common draft and play in a common season-ending championship game, known as the AFL-NFL World Championship. Two years later, the game's name was changed to the Super Bowl. [170] [171] [172] AFL teams won the next two Super Bowls, and in 1970, the two leagues merged to form a new 26-team league. The resulting newly expanded NFL eventually incorporated some of the innovations that led to the AFL's success, such as including names on player's jerseys, official scoreboard clocks, national television contracts (the addition of Monday Night Football gave the NFL broadcast rights on all of the Big Three television networks), and sharing of gate and broadcasting revenues between home and visiting teams. [170]

Post-merger NFL (1970–present) Edit

The NFL continued to grow, eventually adopting some innovations of the AFL, including the two-point conversion. It has expanded several times to its current 32-team membership, and the Super Bowl has become a cultural phenomena across the United States. One of the most popular televised events annually in the United States, [6] it has become a major source of advertising revenue for the television networks that have carried it and it serves as a means for advertisers to debut elaborate and expensive commercials for their products. [173] The NFL has grown to become the most popular spectator sports league in the United States. [174]

One of the things that have marked the modern NFL as different from other major professional sports leagues is the apparent parity between its 32 teams. While from time to time, dominant teams have arisen, the league has been cited as one of the few where every team has a realistic chance of winning the championship from year to year. [175] The league's complex labor agreement with its players' union, which mandates a hard salary cap and revenue sharing between its clubs, prevents the richest teams from stockpiling the best players and gives even teams in smaller cities such as Green Bay and New Orleans the opportunity to compete for the Super Bowl. [176] One of the chief architects of this labor agreement was former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who presided over the league from 1989 to 2006. [177] In addition to providing parity between the clubs, the current labor contract, established in 1993 and renewed in 1998 and 2006, has kept player salaries low—the lowest among the four major league sports in the United States— [178] and has helped make the NFL the only major American professional sports league since 1993 not to suffer any player strike or work stoppage. [179]

Since taking over as commissioner before the 2006 season, Roger Goodell has made player conduct a priority of his office. Since taking office, several high-profile players have experienced trouble with the law, from Adam "Pacman" Jones to Michael Vick. In these and other cases, Commissioner Goodell has mandated lengthy suspensions for players who fall outside of acceptable conduct limits. [180] Goodell, however, has remained a largely unpopular figure to many of the league's fans, who perceive him attempting to change the NFL's identity and haphazardly damage the sport. [181] [182] [183]

Other professional leagues Edit

Minor professional leagues such as the original United Football League, Atlantic Coast Football League (ACFL), Seaboard Football League and Continental Football League existed in abundance in the 1960s and early 1970s, to varying degrees of success. [184] In 1970, Patricia Barzi Palinkas became the first woman to ever play on a men's semipro football team when she joined the Orlando Panthers of the ACFL. [185] [186]

Several other professional football leagues have been formed since the AFL–NFL merger, though none have had the success of the AFL. [187] [188] In 1974, the World Football League formed and was able to attract such stars as Larry Csonka away from the NFL with lucrative contracts. [189] However, most of the WFL franchises were insolvent and the league folded in 1975. [190]

In 1982, the United States Football League formed as a spring league, and enjoyed moderate success during its first two seasons behind such stars as Jim Kelly and Herschel Walker. [191] In 1985, the league, which lost a considerable amount of money due to overspending on players, opted to gamble on moving its schedule to fall in 1986 and filing a billion-dollar antitrust lawsuit against the NFL in an effort to stay afloat. [192] [193] [194] When the lawsuit only drew a three-dollar judgment, the USFL folded. [195]

The NFL founded a developmental league known as the World League of American Football with teams based in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The WLAF ran for two years, from 1991 to 1992. Its successor, the all-European NFL Europe League, ran from 1995 to 2007. [196]

In 2001, the original XFL was formed as a joint venture between the World Wrestling Federation and the NBC television network. It folded after one season in the face of rapidly declining fan interest and a poor reputation. However, XFL stars such as Tommy Maddox and Rod "He Hate Me" Smart later saw success in the NFL. [197] [198] [199] In 2020, a new XFL began play. The league, also owned by Vince McMahon is vastly different from the original incarnation.

Football is a popular participatory sport among youth. One of the earliest youth football organizations was founded in Philadelphia, in 1929, as the Junior Football Conference. Organizer Joe Tomlin started the league to provide activities and guidance for teenage boys who were vandalizing the factory he owned. The original four-team league expanded to sixteen teams in 1933 when Pop Warner, who had just been hired as the new coach of the Temple University football team, agreed to give a lecture to the boys in the league. In his honor, the league was renamed the Pop Warner Conference. [200] [201]

Today, Pop Warner Little Scholars—as the program is now known—enrolls over 300,000 young boys and girls ages 5–16 in over 5000 football and cheerleading squads, and has affiliate programs in Mexico and Japan. [201] Other organizations, such as the Police Athletic League, [202] Upward, [203] and the National Football League's NFL Youth Football Program [204] also manage various youth football leagues.

Football is a popular sport for high schools in the United States. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) was founded in 1920 as an umbrella organization for state-level organizations that manage high school sports, including high school football. The NFHS publishes the rules followed by most local high school football associations. [200] [205] More than 13,000 high schools participate in football, and in some places high school teams play in stadiums that rival college-level facilities. For example, the school district serving the Houston suburb of Katy, Texas opened a 12,000-seat stadium in 2017 that cost over $70 million to host the district's eight high school teams. [206] The growth of high school football and its impact on small town communities has been documented by landmark non-fiction works such as the 1990 book Friday Night Lights and the subsequent fictionalized film and television series. [207]

American football has been played outside the US since the 1920s and accelerated in popularity after World War II, especially in countries with large numbers of U.S. military personnel, who often formed a substantial proportion of the players and spectators. [208] [209]

In 1998, the International Federation of American Football, was formed to coordinate international amateur competition. At present, 45 associations from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania are organized within the IFAF, which claims to represent 23 million amateur athletes. [210] The IFAF, which is based in La Courneuve, France, [211] organizes the quadrennial World Championship of American Football. [212]

A long-term goal of the IFAF is for American football to be accepted by the International Olympic Committee as an Olympic sport. [213] The only time that the sport was played was at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, but as a demonstration sport. Among the various problems the IFAF has to solve in order to be accepted by the IOC are building a competitive women's division, expanding the sport into Africa, and overcoming the current worldwide competitive imbalance that is in favor of American teams. [214]

Other codes of football share a common history with American football. Canadian football is a form of the game that evolved parallel to American football. While both games share a common history, there are some important differences between the two. [215] A more modern sport that derives from American football is Arena football, designed to be played indoors inside of ice hockey or basketball arenas. The game was invented in 1981 by Jim Foster and the Arena Football League was founded in 1987 as the first major professional league to play the sport. Several other indoor football leagues have since been founded and continue to play today. [216]

American football's parent sport of rugby continued to evolve. Today, two distinct codes known as rugby union and rugby league are played throughout the world. Since the two codes split following a schism on how the sport should be managed in 1895, the history of rugby league and the history of rugby union have evolved separately. [217] Both codes have adopted innovations parallel to the American game the rugby union scoring system is almost identical to the American game, while rugby league uses a gridiron-style field and a six-tackle rule similar to the system of downs in American Football.

Another game that can trace it history to English public school football games is the Australian rules football, which was first played in Melbourne, Victoria in 1858. The game, who's also known as Australian football or Aussie rules, is played between teams of 18 players on an oval field, often a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval ball between the middle goal posts (worth six points) or between a goal and behind post (worth one point). The Melbourne Football Club published the first laws of Australian football in May 1859, which predates American football by at least 10 years, and making it the oldest of the world's major football codes. [218] [219]

Gaelic football is an Irish-specific sport, that can also trace its roots to the early days of football. The game is played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. The objective of the sport is to score by kicking or punching the ball into the other team's goals (3 points) or between two upright posts above the goals and over a crossbar 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) above the ground (1 point). Unlike other similar football codes, the game ball is round (a spherical leather ball resembling a volleyball), and players advance it up the field with a combination of carrying, bouncing, kicking, hand-passing, and soloing (dropping the ball and then toe-kicking the ball upward into the hands). The game playing code was formally arranged by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in 1885, and was played in the 1904 Summer Olympics as a demonstration sport.


  • On June 2010 Ronaldo became the fourth footballer ever to have a wax statue at the Madame Tussauds museum in London.
  • In his hometown there is a museum, Museu CR7 which is dedicated only to Ronaldo containing his trophies, medals, rare pictures and everything related to Ronaldo.
  • Ronaldo was doubtful about wearing the Number 7 shirt because he thought it would be too much pressure on him as the number 7 shirt was worn by legends like Johnny Berry, Eric Cantona and David Beckham. After wearing it, he was forced to live up to the number.
  • Ronaldo donates blood regularly and does not smoke or have any tattoos on his body.
  • Ronaldo has won the FIFA world player of the year award, Ballon d’Or, the Golden Boot, and has been named the UEFA Club Forward of the Year as well.
  • Ronaldo also has a fashion boutique named CR7 and models for men’s fashion wear. The store is famous for featuring diamond studded clothing.
  • He is rich and famous but is always involved with charity, fund raising and donations to NGOs. He has funded schools in Gaza and also acts as the Ambassador to Save the Children and The Mangrove Care Forum in Indonesia.

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