Soccer 101: The Beautiful Game

If you are new to soccer, first off, Welcome ūüôā The rest of the world has been waiting for you. ¬†The purpose of this series will be to introduce the beautiful game of soccer to you and help you understand and navigate the sport. ¬†Because Backyard Soccer Coach is geared towards the soccer parent, this series will focus on learning the game from the youth level — though much of what we discuss with regards to rules, positions and other aspects of the game are universal and will help you whether you’re watching little Johnny as a 6 year old or Clint Dempsey or Kaka on a professional level.

The Beautiful Game - Soccer 101 series

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Versions of soccer (or football, as the majority of the world calls it) have been around for thousands of years.  It is claimed to have begun in several places, including ancient China, Greece, Rome and even Central America.  However it is England that is credited for making soccer the sport it is today.  The first uniform rules were developed in England and to this day, England is considered by many to be the center of the soccer universe.

It is estimated that over 240 million people play soccer around the world.

SOCCER GOVERNANCE

As you can imagine, managing the rules and application of a game that spans around the world, as soccer does, presents a little more of a challenge than the sports leagues that you are probably used to.  Take, for example, the National Football League (NFL), their teams reside within a single country, which means they only have to take into account a single national culture, set of laws, etc.

In soccer, the rules and governance of the game has to take into account cultures from Europe to Australia, Africa to South America and every inhabited country in between.  It is a daunting task indeed.

Soccer is governed by an international organization called the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). FIFA was founded in 1904 and is based in Zurich, Switzerland.  It has 211 member associations.

If you spend any time at all around soccer, you will hear references to FIFA.  They govern international competitions, the rules of the game, and all regional, national and local associations fall under their jurisdiction.

Individual countries have their own governing bodies that are members of FIFA.  These include the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) in the United states, The Football Association (FA), in England and the Asociacion Del Futbol Argentino in Argentina, to name a few.

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

Soccer is often called The Beautiful Game. ¬†The reason for this name varies depending who you ask. ¬†Each player, coach, referee, and spectator probably has his or her own answer for why soccer is The Beautiful Game, but one of the most commonly cited reasons is it’s universal appeal throughout the world. ¬†If you are a soccer fan, you could attend a game in any number of countries, and regardless of whether you understood the language or national culture, you¬†would¬†understand the game and he culture surrounding it. ¬†That is a beautiful thing.

For me personally, this is one of the reasons that I believe soccer is a beautiful game. ¬†I don’t speak a word of Spanish, Italian or German, but I will often watch (and enjoy) soccer games broadcasts in those languages. ¬†It doesn’t bother me at all, and I can easily follow the game regardless of the language.

Soccer is the beautiful game to me also because I’ve been involved in different aspects of the game over the years — as a player, referee, coach, spectator and now as a parent. ¬†Because of that, there are countless things I can enjoy and analyze as I watch a game. ¬†I can watch the actual players, I can watch the tactical decisions the coach makes, or I can watch how the referee is officiating the game.

As you learn more about soccer and watch more of it, you will find your own reason why you believe soccer is The Beautiful Game, but the more you watch, the more you will come to see it as such. ¬†I promise ūüôā

Take a moment to watch this video.  THIS is why soccer is The Beautiful Game.  These emotions transcend nations, languages and culture.

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