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  • Football is the most popular sport not just in Great Britain, but in the rest of the world
  • It is a ball game played between two teams on a rectangular, grass playing field (a football pitch) with goalposts at either end
  • There are 11 players in a team at senior level and seven players in a team at junior level (change comes at U11s)
  • The team must work together to score goals against its opponents by passing the ball between their players
  • The penalty box is the area surrounding the goalposts
  • Other than the goalkeepers, the players must not use their hands or arms to guide the ball in general play. Goalkeepers can only handle the ball within the penalty box
  • A football team is made up of defenders, midfielders and strikers. Defenders try to stop the opponents from scoring goals. Midfielders develop the team's attacks and provide strikers with passes, but also help defenders by disrupting the opposition at an early stage. The strikers' main task is to score goals
  • Anybody on a football team can score, including the goalkeeper
  • A professional football match lasts 90 minutes, with half-time after 45 minutes
  • The winner is the team which has scored the most goals at the end of the match
  • If a player commits a foul in the penalty box, a penalty is awarded to the opposition - a player is chosen by the manager or captain to take the penalty
  • In professional football, the team's manager is likely to make substitutions throughout the match. This means he/ she takes players out of the game and replaces them with one of the substitute players who sit on the substitutes' bench during the match
  • Players who break the rules or offend during a match can be given a yellow or red card by the referee. A yellow card is a warning and a red card means the player is 'sent off' - they cannot play in the match any longer. Managers cannot replace players who have been sent off
  • Football can be played anywhere where there is a wide open space, such as a garden or in the park
  • Almost all schools have a football team you can play for. Towns, villages and cities have local football clubs for every age group after the age of about seven years old
  • School teams compete against each other in friendly matches and also in school tournaments
  • There are separate local football leagues for town and city teams
  • Women's football is becoming more popular and widespread
  • Up to the age of 11, girls and boys can play on the same football team
  • After 11, football teams are single-sex
  • Professional football players play in a city football club and, if they are good enough, in their country's national football team

British Football

  • The British football league is called the Premiership - it is the richest football league in the world. It is also known as the Premier League
  • Many Welsh players play in this league
  • There are 20 teams in the Premiership
  • The 20 teams play each other twice over the course of a season, attaining 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and no points if they lose. If points are even at the end of the season, league positions are decided by goal difference - which is the number of goals let in, taken away from the number of goals scored
  • At the end of the season, the top four teams in the Premiership are entered in to the Champions League - the main European football competition - and compete for the Champions' Cup
  • Below the Premiership are other leagues, which each have 24 teams each:-
    • The Football League Championship
    • League 1
    • League 2
    • League 3
  • At the end of a season, the top three teams in the Coca Cola Champions League move up to the Premiership, and the bottom three teams in the Premiership move down
  • The biggest football event, and the biggest sporting even in the world, is the FIFA World Cup.

Welsh football

  • The Wales national football team play their home matches at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff
  • The national Welsh league is called the Welsh Premier League.
  • South Wales is covered by the Welsh Football League, while North and central Wales are covered by the Cymru Alliance. Promotion to the Welsh Premier League depends on where the team is from
  • The champions of these leagues can be promoted to the League of Wales
  • There is a Welsh Cup competition in which the teams of the Welsh Premier League compete
  • Welsh players can play in the English football league
  • The Welsh Premier League suffers from the fact that six of the largest football clubs in Wales all play in the English football league system - Cardiff City FC, Swansea City FC, Wrexham FC, Newport County FC, Merthyr Tydfil FC and Colwyn Bay FC
  • There is also a Wales national women's football team, Wales Women, as well as a Welsh Cup and Welsh League for ladies' city teams

Welsh players

  • Welsh football star Ryan Giggs was born in Cardiff and he has played for both Wales's national football team and the English club Manchester United
  • Since 1993, Ryan Giggs's honours include English Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the Inter-Continental Cup and European Cup Winners Cup winner's medals. He was also voted the Young Player of the Year by the PFA in 1992 and 1993
  • The most famous Welsh players in the past 50 years have been Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs and John Charles
  • Throughout his career, Ian Rush played for Chester, Liverpool, Juventus, Leeds, Newcastle and the Wales national football team. He once held the record for top goal scorer in a season and is the highest ever scorer for Wales
  • The late John Charles played for Swansea, Leeds and Juventus. He was called the 'Gentle Giant', as he wasn't given a single yellow or red card in his entire career

Did you know...?

  • During the Euro 2004 qualifying tournament, Wales became the best supported national team in Europe, with an average attendance in excess of 70,000
  • The Wales National Football Team played in the World Cup in 1958, reaching the quarter-finals, in which they lost 1-0 to Brazil
  • Over 240 million people play football regularly in more than 200 countries in every part of the world
  • Football is a bigger sport than baseball, basketball and American football combined
  • Football is played on every continent in the world
  • The oldest football associations are
    • Wales - founded 1875
    • England - founded 1863
    • Scotland - founded 1873
    • Ireland - founded 1880

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