|The term 'soccer' is the name that has commonly been
given in North America to a form of football played with
a spherical ball. It is the most widely played team game
in the world and the most popular spectator sport. Soccer
was originally called 'association football' (the name
soccer is derived from the word assoc, from the
The game of soccer began in England sometime in the middle of the 19th century, primarily in the great public (private) schools of the day. Standard rules evolved fairly rapidly. Organised clubs began to be established in 1855, and the Football Association was established in London in 1863. Professional players were admitted the Football Association leagues in the mid-1880s. Shortly after, the game became dominated by professional teams.
Soccer began to spread internationally in the 1870s and by 1880 is had gained adherents in Central Europe. In these regions it became exceptionally popular. Other European nations took it up early in the 20th century, established teams, and began to play in international play. South Americans were taught the game by English immigrants in the 1890s. By the mid-20th century the sport had reached an extraordinarily high level of play. Competition continued to spread to the Middle Eastern and Asian nations, including nations that produced formidable and well-trained players. The World Cup, as sponsored by soccer's governing body, the Federation International Football Association, has been played every four years since 1930. The first women's World Cup match was played in 1971 in Mexico City.
Olympic competition was also vital to the spread of the game. One nation that long resisted soccer's spread was the U.S., where a completely different form of 'football' evolved. Small pockets of urban immigrants were still able to keep the sport popular. Only in the 1970s did interest in soccer become widespread in the U.S., ignited by the immense popularity of Brazilian star Pele. 1968 served as the first year of the North American Soccer League, which was formed to promote professional play.
At the amateur level, soccer has appealed to players throughout North America.
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