SOCCER The game of soccer, popularly known as the ‘beautiful game’, can be traced back to the English school sport. The game never followed a set pattern or schedule until 1863, when local clubs in England demanded strict guidelines for the game’s progress. And so association football was born. It has found patrons all over the world and is considered the most popular sport in the world. It has also been an Olympic sport since 1900. The first football league in which clubs participated dates back to the 1880s. As rules were established, the game was taken much more seriously. This led to major debates about the future of the game, and so the Football League First and Second Divisions were created in England. The spread of football around the world has shown that the formula of the league system was not limited to just one nation. From its rather unqualified performances, the sport had shifted to steadiness. Professionalism has been installed. In 1930, association football welcomed the concept of a World Cup. Members of FIFA, the global governing body of football, took part in the quest for the holy grail of world football every four years. In the last 90 years, 21 World Championships have been held, which have been won by eight different nations over the years. This includes countries like Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina. The competition was recently won by France in 2018, the last World Cup edition. They defeated Croatia to win their second title. Brazil has won the most world titles with five wins, most recently in 2002. Germany and Italy have each won four titles. Europe is home to some of the best footballing nations in the world, which is probably due to its grassroots system. When the home circuit is talented, the results show at the international frontier. England has the Premier League as the top club football league, in Spain you have La Liga. Bundesliga in Germany, Serie A in Italy and Ligue 1 in France. But the biggest battle in Europe comes in the form of the UEFA Champions League, where the best teams from different European countries compete for the ultimate crown. Launched in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, it was renamed the Champions League in 1992. We’ve talked about teams, but no discussion about football could end without the names of some players. While there are many greats in football, the FIFA Ballon d’Or is awarded to the one player who tops the list in terms of performances and overall impact that year.
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