There’s much more to this sport than meets the eye of Bend It Like Beckham and She’s the Man (though let’s be real, those are cinematic masterpieces).
Soccer is played on a field called a pitch with nets on both ends. Each team has 11 players (including a goalkeeper). A game is made up of two 45 minute halves. The object of the game is to score goals by kicking or heading the ball into the other teams’ net. The soccer ball cannot be touched with hands or arms unless you’re the goalkeeper or completing a throw in. Consequently, the game is known as “football” pretty much everywhere except North America. This name, of course, makes much more sense in comparison to NFL or CFL football, a sport played primarily using your hands. SMH at whoever came up with that name.
How is it organized?
Soccer is a wildly popular global sport mostly due to its accessibility — you literally just need a ball to play it. As a result, almost every single continent has its own professional soccer league (which can get a little confusing). The most popular men’s leagues are the English Premier League (EPL), Spanish La Liga and Major League Soccer (MLS). MLS is played in North America.
Unlike other sports with a regular season and playoffs, teams collect points for wins at home or away, and goals home or away, so that at the end of the season a champion can be named. Playoffs start after the season champ is determined. On top of that, because soccer is a worldwide sport, there are huge tournaments where players represent their countries rather than the professional teams they’re signed to. These are the World Cup (played every four years) and the Euro Cup (also every four years but in the even-numbered year between World Cups).
Women in Soccer
Unlike men’s soccer, which is well established in Europe, women’s soccer is most popular in North America. The best league in the world is the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) with all teams based in the US. Some other leagues include the FA Women’s Super League in England and D1F which stands for Division 1 Feminine in France. The reigning NWSL champs are the North Carolina Courage.
Women’s soccer is even more important on the international stage in tournaments like the Olympics and the World Cup. Here at The GIST, we are obsessed with our Canadian women’s national team. Most recently they were two-time bronze medallists in back-to-back Olympics and were ousted in the round of 16 in the 2019 World Cup. Not too shabby. Our fearless leader, Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC), is the world's top goal scorer — male or female — for international goals. Get it, girl!
Stuff to Know About Soccer
- Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, being played in over 200 countries!!
- No one knows exactly when soccer was created, but the earliest versions of the game can be traced back 3,000 years. Woah.
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