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Football refers to a number of sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot to score a goal. The most popular of these sports worldwide is association football, more commonlyknown as just "football" or "soccer". Unqualified, the word football applies to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears, including associationfootball, as well as American football, Australian rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, rugby league, rugby union[1] and other related games. These variations of football are known asfootball codes.

Various forms of football can be identified in history, often as popular peasant games. Contemporary codes of football can be traced back to the codification of these games atEnglish public schools in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.[2][3] The influence and power of the British Empire allowed these rules of football to spread, including to areas of British influenceoutside of the directly controlled Empire,[4] though by the end of the nineteenth century, distinct regional codes were already developing: Gaelic Football, for example, deliberately incorporated the rulesof local traditional football games in order to maintain their heritage.[5] In 1888, The Football League was founded in England, becoming the first of many professional football competitions. In thetwentieth century, the various codes of football have become amongst the most popular team sports in the world.[6]

Common elements

The various codes of football share the following commonelements[citation needed]:

Two teams of usually between 11 and 18 players; some variations that have fewer players (five or more per team) are also popular.
A clearly defined area in which toplay the game.
Scoring goals or points, by moving the ball to an opposing team's end of the field and either into a goal area, or over a line.
Goals or points resulting from players putting...
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