Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer,[a] is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players who primarily use their feet to propel a ball around a rectangular field called a pitch. The objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposite team by moving the ball beyond the goal line into a rectangular-framed goal defended by the opposing side. Traditionally, the game has been played over two 45 minute halves, for a total match time of 90 minutes. With an estimated 250 million players active in over 200 countries and territories, it is considered the world’s most popular sport.
Women’s association football has historically seen opposition, with national associations severely curbing its development and several outlawing it completely. Restrictions started to be reduced in the 1980s and the first women’s World Cup was the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China with only 12 teams from the respective six confederations. By the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, this had increased to 24 national teams, and a record-breaking 1.12 billion viewers watched the competition.
Internationally, association football is governed by FIFA. Under FIFA, there are six continental confederations: AFC, CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, OFC and UEFA. National associations (e.g. The FA or JFA) are responsible for managing the game in their own countries both professionally and at an amateur level, and coordinating competitions in accordance with the Laws of the Game. The most senior and prestigious international competitions are the FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The men’s World Cup is the most-viewed sporting event in the world, surpassing the Olympic Games. The two most prestigious competitions in European club football are the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which attract an extensive television audience throughout the world. The final of the men’s tournament has been, in recent years, the most-watched annual sporting event in the world.
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