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Association football


Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Association football is one of a family of football codes which emerged from various ball games played worldwide since antiquity. The modern game traces its origins to 1863 when the Laws of the Game were originally codified in England by The Football Association.

Players are not allowed to touch the ball with hands or arms while it is in play, save for the goalkeepers within the penalty area. Other players mainly use their feet to strike or pass the ball, but may also use any other part of their body except the hands and the arms. The team that scores most goals by the end of the match wins. If the score is level at the end of the game, either a draw is declared or the game goes into extra time or a penalty shootout depending on the format of the competition. Association football is governed internationally by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA; French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), which organises World Cups for both men and women every four years.

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Arsenal Stadium, commonly known as Highbury
Arsenal Stadium was a football stadium in Highbury, North London, which was the home ground of Arsenal Football Club between 6 September 1913 and 7 May 2006. It was popularly known as Highbury due to its location.

It was originally built in 1913 on the site of a local college's recreation ground and has been significantly redeveloped twice. The first came in the 1930s from which the still-existing Art Deco East and West Stands date; the second in the late 1980s and early 1990s following the Taylor Report, during which the terraces at both ends of the pitch were removed, making it all-seater with four stands. The resulting reduction in capacity and matchday revenue eventually led to Arsenal deciding to build the Emirates Stadium nearby, which they moved to in 2006.

Its presence also led to the local Tube station being renamed to "Arsenal" in 1932, making it the only station on the network to be named after a football club.

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Lionel Messi
Lionel Andrés Messi (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾes ˈmesi]; born 24 June 1987 in Rosario) is an Argentine footballer of Italian descent who plays for Spanish La Liga club FC Barcelona and the Argentine national team. Messi is considered to be one of the best football players of his generation, having received several Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations by the age of 21. His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to football legend Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor".

Messi began playing football at a young age and his potential was quickly identified by FC Barcelona. He left Rosario-based Newell's Old Boys' youth team in 2000 and moved with his family to Europe, as Barcelona offered treatment for his growth hormone deficiency. Making his debut in the 2004–05 season, he broke the La Liga record for the youngest footballer to play a league game, and also the youngest to score a league goal. Major honours soon followed as Barcelona won La Liga in Messi's debut season, and won a double of the league and UEFA Champions League in 2006. His breakthrough season was in 2006–07: he became a first team regular, scoring a hat-trick in El Clásico and finishing with 14 goals in 26 league games. Perhaps his most successful season was the 2008–09 season, in which Messi scored 38 goals to play an integral part in a treble winning campaign.


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Map of the members of FIFA according to their confederation, on the 1st January 2006
FIFA is the international governing body of football. From its headquarters in Zürich, Switzerland, FIFA is responsible for the organization and governance of football's major international tournaments, most notably the FIFA World Cup, held since 1930.

In total, FIFA recognises 208 national federations and their associated men's national teams as well as 129 women's national teams. Curiously, FIFA has more member states than the United Nations, as FIFA recognises several non-sovereign entities as distinct nations, most notably the four Home Nations within the United Kingdom. The FIFA World Rankings are updated monthly and rank each team based on their performance in international competitions, qualifiers, and friendly matches. There is also a world ranking for women's football, updated four times a year.

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Women's FA Cup 2006, Birmingham City v Arsenal
Credit: Flickr user Jaskirt Dhaliwal

Birmingham City's Kate Ward attempts to get past Arsenal defender Alex Scott for a shot on goal in a match from the 2006 FA Women's Premier League Cup. Arsenal are the most successful women's football team in England and completed the quadruple in the 2006-07 season by winning the FA Women's Premier League, FA Women's Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Women's Champions League.

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Nobody can stop him. Probably the only way to do it is to kill him. When he runs at you, you try to grab his shirt or do whatever you can. But he just goes past you, makes fun out of you and leaves you kicking the air.

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