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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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Priestfield Stadium during a match.
Priestfield Stadium is a football stadium in Gillingham, Kent. It has been the home of Gillingham Football Club since the club's formation in 1893 and the first recorded game played there was on 2 September 1893 when the club played Woolwich Arsenal's reserve team.

In 1955 the pitch, which was on a slope and had also been used as grazing for local Sheep at the turn of the century, was relaid along with further refurbishments to the terraces. Priestfield underwent extensive redevelopment during the late 1990s, which has brought its capacity down to a current figure of 11,582. It has four all-seater stands, all constructed since 1997 and has also been the temporary home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club as well as hosting England Women's and Youth international matches.

In 2004 the ground was voted as "the worst football ground in England" in a poll by The Guardian and 36% of respondents labelled it "the ugliest building in the town" in a separate poll in 2006.

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Footballer Shaun Goater at a book signing on 26 September 2006
Shaun Goater MBE (born 25 February 1970 in Hamilton, Bermuda) is a footballer who played as a striker for a number of English clubs in the 1990s and 2000s.

Goater's first professional club was Manchester United, but he did not reach the first team, making his League debut in 1989 after moving to Rotherham. He played for Rotherham for seven years before moving to Bristol City in 1996. Two years later he moved to Manchester City for a fee of £400,000.

He is most well known for his time at Manchester City, where he scored over 100 goals between 1998 and 2003, finishing as the club's top scorer for four consecutive seasons. After leaving City, Goater had spells with Reading, Coventry and Southend United, before retiring in May 2006.

A former member of the Bermudian national team, Goater returned to Bermuda on retirement, receiving an official welcome from Prime Minister Alex Scott on his arrival. Since 2003, he has organised the annual Shaun Goater Grass-roots Soccer Festival, a football coaching event for children on the islands.

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Map of the world with countries belonging to the OCF marked
The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is one of the six "continental" confederations of international football. It promotes the game in Oceania and allows the member nations to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

Of the six confederations, the OFC is by far the smallest and weakest, made up of small and often impoverished island nations, in many of which football is not the most popular sport. Consequently, it has little influence in the wider football world, either in terms of international competition or as a source of players for high-profile club competitions. In 2006, the OFC's largest and most successful nation, Australia, transferred to the Asian Football Confederation, leaving New Zealand as the most prominent federation within the OFC.

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A game of Street football in Kolkata, India
Credit: Flickr user Dipanker Dutta

A game of Street football in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The term street football encompasses a wide variety of informal games that are loosely based on association football but do not necessarily enforce all, or indeed any, of the Laws of the Game. Often the most basic of set-ups will involve just a ball with a wall or fence used as a goal, or items such as clothing being used for goalposts. The ease of playing these informal games means that they are popular all over the world.

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I eat football, I sleep football, I breathe football. I'm not mad, I'm just passionate.

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