Definition of football noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈfʊtbɔːl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈfʊtbɔːl//
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  1. 1   [uncountable] (formal Association football) (both British English) (also soccer North American English, British English) (also British English, informal footy, footie) a game played by two teams of 11 players, using a round ball which players kick up and down the playing field. Teams try to kick the ball into the other team’s goal. to play football a football match/team/stadium see also Gaelic football Culturefootball – British styleFootball is the most popular sport in Britain, particularly among men. It is played by boys in most schools. Most towns have an amateur football team (= a team which does not get paid for playing) which plays in a minor league. Football is also the most popular spectator sport (= sport that is watched) in Britain. Many people go to see their favourite professional team playing at home, and some go to away matches. Many more people watch football on television.The rules of football are relatively simple: two teams of 11 players try to get a round ball into the opposing team's goal and to prevent their opponents from scoring. The ball may be kicked or headed, but never handled (= touched with the hand), except by the goalkeepers. The Football Association was founded in 1863 to decide the rules of football and the resulting game became known formally as association football. It is sometimes also called soccer. Many of today's leading clubs were established shortly afterwards.Most professional clubs represent large cities, or parts of London. They include Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. The most famous Scottish clubs include Rangers and Celtic. In 1992 football was reorganized so that the best 20 teams in England and Wales play in the Premier League, while 70 other teams play in three divisions, run by the Football League. There is a Scottish Professional Football League with four divisions, formed in 2013 when the Scottish Football League joined with the Scottish Premier League. At the end of each season, the top few teams in each division are promoted and the bottom teams are relegated. As well as the Premier League, the main competitions in England and Wales are the FA Cup and the League Cup. A few of the most successful sides have won the Double, the Premier League and the FA cup in the same year. The biggest clubs are now run as major businesses, and top players earn large salaries. They are frequently transferred (= bought and sold) between clubs for millions of pounds. Many foreign stars also now play for British teams, and in many top clubs British players are in the minority.England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have their own national sides. England won the World Cup in 1966, when its stars included Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst.An increase in football hooliganism (= violence and damage to property by supporters) in the 1970s and 1980s frightened many people away from football matches. English fans got a bad reputation in Europe and football violence became known as ‘the English disease’. Disasters such as that at Hillsborough, in which many people died, also discouraged people from going to matches. Formerly, football grounds had terraces, where supporters stood packed close together, and stands containing rows of seats which were more expensive. These grounds have now almost all been replaced by all-seater stadiums, but people complain about the rising cost of tickets. Many clubs have their own fanzine (= a magazine about the club written and published by the fans). Some supporters also buy a copy of their team's strip (= shorts and shirt in team colours).This type of football is known in the US as soccer to distinguish it from the American game. Enthusiasm increased after 1994 when the World Cup was played for the first time in the US. In 1999 the US won the Women's World Cup. In 1996 Major League Soccer (MLS) was established, and teams compete for the MLS Cup. Students in colleges and universities also play soccer in three NCAA divisions. The nation's oldest tournament (= series of games that leads to one winner) is the US Open Cup. Many millions of American children now play regularly, and the expression soccer mom (= a mother who spends a lot of time taking her children to sporting activities) has entered the language.
  2. 2   [uncountable] (North American English) = American football, Canadian football Culturefootball – American styleFootball is one of the major sports in the US. In Britain and elsewhere the game is often called American football to distinguish it from soccer. American football developed from the games of football and Rugby. There is a lot of dangerous play, so helmets (= hard round hats) and thick pads must be worn. Each game has cheerleaders (= people that lead shouts of support for a team) and bands of musicians that march on the field between the halves of the game. Whole families go to watch games, and there is almost no violence from supporters. Many games are shown live on US television. British television now also shows some games. In US high schools, colleges and universities, football games are the centre of many social events, such as homecoming.The game is played by two teams of 11 players each, with different players used for defense, offense and kicks. The field is 100 yards/91.5 metres long and 53 yards 1 foot/49 metres wide. It is sometimes called a gridiron because the lines across it that mark every 10 yards/9 metres make it look like the metal tray on which meat is grilled or broiled. At each end of the field there is an extra 10 yards/9 metres, called the end zone, with a goal post in the shaped of an ‘H’. The ball is oval-shaped and sometimes called a pigskin because the balls were formerly made from the skin of pigs.A team scores when its players send the ball down the field and across the opponent's goal line for a touchdown of six points. They can then add a point after touchdown (PAT) if they kick the ball through the goal posts. A team can get three points if the ball is kicked between the goal posts without a touchdown, and two points if their defense stops the opponents in their own end zone.The team with the ball must move it 10 yards/9 metres in four downs (= separate actions). This is done from behind linemen who face the defense's linemen. An action begins when the quarterback takes the ball from between the legs of the center and runs with it, hands it to another runner or passes (= throws) it to another player. Between actions, the team with the ball has a huddle so the quarterback can tell them what to do next. If 10 yards/9 metres are not made in 4 downs, the team can punt (= kick the ball to the other team). The defense can also get the ball by an interception (= a catch of the opponent's pass) or a fumble (= a ball accidentally dropped).The National Football League (NFL) has 32 professional teams. Teams from the American Football Conference and from the National Football Conference play against each other to decide the two that will meet in the Super Bowl. Some well-known teams include the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers.The best college teams play in bowl games, e.g. the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl. The best college players are chosen as All-Americans. Famous professional players almost always play in college teams first. They have included Jim Brown, Jim Thorpe, OJ Simpson and Joe Montana.
  3. 3  [countable] a large round or oval ball made of leather or plastic and filled with air
  4. 4[countable] (always used with an adjective) an issue or a problem that frequently causes argument and disagreement Health care should not become a political football.
  5. Extra examples Children’s education should not be treated as a political football. Even people who don’t follow football closely take great pride in their team. Join Radio 5 for all the top football action. Obscene football chants stop people taking their children to matches. The Dutch team impressed the fans with their classy one-touch football. The World Cup is fascinating for its clash of football cultures. The football world was rocked by the scandal. The government is trying to tackle violence on the football terraces. The police say the players’ behaviour is a matter for the football authorities. Young Italians follow football like we follow the royal family.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: football