Football

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The simple word football can act as an in-group marker.

  • In American English, it always refers to what is sometimes called 'gridiron' - a game for squads of players, playing with a pointed ball which is thrown or carried more than it is kicked. In the rest of the world, it usually means what the Americans call 'soccer' - a game for 11 players on each side, in which a round ball is only kicked (except by the goalkeeper).
    • Gridiron football is named after the marking of the field of play into a series of lines across the pitch parallel to the end zones, or scoring areas, at intervals of precisely five yards, with hash marks (subsidiary short markings) to indicate single yards in two series near the middle of the field (running from goal post to goal post in professional football).
  • Soccer, the most common kind of football everywhere in the world but North America, is the version of the game for which the governing body is FIFA - the International Federation of Football Associations (Fédération Internationale de Football Association in French). The original rules were drawn up by the original Football Association, that of England. The word 'soccer' is a shortening of Association, seen as slangy in British English, though it is commonly used formally in North America.
  • In some social contexts in Britain it is used to mean 'Rugby Football'. Many prestigious public schools play rugby (or 'rugger') rather than soccer. In these, the game is often called simply 'football'. This usage was more common before World War II. Rugby was the version of football originally played at Rugby School. It is played with a pointed ball, and has more handling than kicking. It is now divided into two varieties:
    • Rugby Union (governed by the Rugby Football Union). Rugby Union has 15 players in a team. It is played mostly by countries in the British Commonwealth, with the addition of France and Italy and increasingly others.
    • Rugby League (governed, not surprisingly, by the Rugby League). League (as Rugby League football is commonly called), which is played by teams of 13, is mostly restricted to the north of England in the UK, and to Australia and France elsewhere.
The difference between Rugby League and Rugby Union used to be that the former was professional, and the latter strictly amateur. But now both versions allow players to be paid for playing.
  • Other versions of football exist, such as Gaelic Football, played in Ireland and 'Aussie Rules' football, played in Australia.