The Rules of Football

Football is a sport in which opposing teams move an inflated ball between goals at opposite ends of a rectangular field. The goal is to score points by running with the ball or passing it into your opponent’s end zone. The team who scores the most points wins the game. There are a number of rules that must be followed in order to play the game. For example, a player can’t touch the ball with any part of his body except for his hands.

The rules of football were largely created in the 19th century. This period was marked by a growing concern for public order, tighter labour discipline and the enclosure of land. This led to changes in local customs and the erosion of old ways. It also saw the creation of professional sportsmen who fought to promote their game and attract a paying audience.

Modern football is played with 11 players on each side. Ten of these are outfield players who must not use their hands, while the goalkeeper can. A maximum of three substitutions are allowed during the course of the match, and a minimum of seven must be played. The ball must be a specific size and shape (usually 58-61cm and round) and each player is required to wear certain protective gear. A football match lasts two 45-minute halves and to win the match a team must score more goals than the opposition.

Before a game of football starts the teams line up on either side of an imaginary line called the line of scrimmage. An official then places the ball on the field. The offense has four tries, called downs, to get the ball 10 yards down the field. If they fail to do so, the other team takes over.

During each down, the offensive team has a set of plays they can run. The quarterback, referred to as the QB, can throw, hand off or run the ball to gain yardage. The other players on the offensive team, known as the offense, block for the quarterback and running back so they can make plays without getting tackled.

Defensive players try to stop the other team from scoring by tackling any player who has the ball. They can also intercept the ball, which means they catch it before it goes to another teammate.

The quarterback is the leader of the offense and the primary passer in the game. The other members of the offense are wide receivers, who can catch passes and take handoffs from the running back for rushing plays. The fullback, a key blocking player, can also run and catch passes and is one of the quickest players on the team.

The game of football originated in Europe and was first played by British people. It was a working-class sport until the late 19th century, when interest in it exploded, with matches drawing crowds of up to 30,000 people. This huge following helped the development of newspapers that reported on the games, and the growth of pool companies, cigarette cards and flannel trousers.