Rules and History of Soccer

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AP Photo/Paul White
USA's Jozy Altidore goes to score a goal as he is challenged by Spain's Carlos Puyol, right, during
their Confederations Cup semifinal soccer match in Bloemfontein, South Africa, June 24, 2009.

Soccer: The World's Sport on the Web

The sport of soccer, known as football in most other countries, has earned its title as "the world's sport" for obvious reasons. Although Major League Soccer (MLS) is still trying to build soccer's popularity in the United States, the enthusiasm and intensity surrounding the sport is the most widespread in the world. Whether you want to see what the fuss is about, are a confused soccer parent, or just can't get enough of the sport, this guide takes you to the Web's best soccer sites. For a Spanish-language version of the Guide, click here.

Rules and History of Soccer

It's always helpful to know what you're watching before you watch it. This section sorts out all of the sites on the Web to give you a clear look into what soccer is and where it comes from.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • Although this guide calls the sport "soccer," the names soccer and football are used interchangeably on Web sites. The other kind of football you might be familiar with is referred to as "American football" on non-U.S. Web sites.

  • Different organizations sometimes have different rules. Go to the rules or "laws of the game" section on the Web site of the organization that interests you.

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Soccer Leagues and Organizations

As the world's game, soccer has many competitions played all over the globe. It can be tricky to keep track of them all. This section can help you make sense of soccer's organizational structure and help you find the competitions that matter most to you.

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  • International confederations preside over cup competitions among domestic leagues and international teams; they also handle World Cup qualifying matches.
  • There are six confederations: North/Central America (CONCACAF); South America (Conmebol); Europe (UEFA); Asia (AFC); Africa (CAF); and Oceania (OFC).
  • National federations govern domestic leagues and cups, as well as national teams. For example, the U.S. Soccer Federation governs the MLS, USL, and U.S. Open Cup for professional teams, and runs the U.S. National Team. Federations are also responsible for soccer as a whole in their country, overseeing amateur, youth and school competitions, and trying to increase soccer's presence.
  • To find an index of national federations, use the "Countries" tab on the top, right-hand side of the FIFA homepage. Each country's profile features news, stats, standings, world rankings, and a link to the official federation site. Note that these links are not always in English.
  • To find professional club leagues, use FIFA's country profile pages mentioned in the previous insight. Each profile features a table and fixture list for the premier domestic league.
  • All the sites in this section feature history pages, news, stats, league table (standings), schedules, and team profiles.

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Soccer Statistics

With the abundance of league, cup, and international competitions, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest news and stats; the picks in this section can help you do so.

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  • For basic player stats, look at the league sites listed in the "Where can I find leagues and governing bodies?" section of this guide.

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News and Analysis of Soccer

Soccer evokes a high level of passion among its fans and followers. Hear what people have to say in this section's picks.

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  • Magazine subscriptions to soccer magazines are some of the best sources for information from knowledgeable authors. You can use print magazines' Web sites to either subscribe or read limited content straight from the Internet.

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Radio and Television Coverage of Soccer

There isn't a lot of soccer being broadcast in the United States but the Internet makes it simple to find live soccer on TV and online. There are also plenty of radio podcasts to keep you hooked in to the latest developments in the world of soccer.

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  • Some streaming games require software you may not have on your computer. Be sure to check the technical requirements beforehand so you don't miss kick-off as you wait to download new software.

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Buying Soccer Tickets

The best way to truly appreciate a soccer game is from the stands, singing and cheering alongside soccer fanatics. This section guides you through the process of purchasing tickets and gives you several tips for making the process easier.

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  • The World Cup has tricky procedures for acquiring tournament tickets. You will undoubtedly want to get started on the application process very early. Here is some helpful information on getting some of the most sought after tickets to a sporting event:
  • Residents of most countries will be able to order tickets from their own national soccer association. Go to that nation's Web site for more details on their specific application process.
  • You can also order tickets during FIFA's own public sales period through the FIFA World Cup Ticketing Center (FWCTC). Applications must be made in writing and can be obtained through the Web site or by contacting the organization via mail or telephone. For contact information and more, visit FIFA.com.
  • Auctions and classifieds sites such as eBay and StubHub are good venues for finding tickets (possibly overpriced) from peers after games sell out. For more information, see the findingDulcinea Sports Guide.
  • Be wary of scalpers. Before planning to acquire tickets from a scalper on game day, it might be helpful to investigate your state's scalping laws.
  • Often the most reliable way to get tickets to games is to check league or tournament Web sites for their reputable online ticket offices. In many cases, this will be the only official way to get tickets, and you will save a lot of money, comparatively, when you buy tickets from the official sources before they are sold out.
  • Sites such as http://www.optasoccer.com/ acknowledge their often exorbitantly high prices. This site clarifies, "Our prices are much higher than the face value of the tickets. This reflects the degree of difficulty, and, of course, the cost of obtaining tickets."


  • Check privacy policies and always exhibit cautious behavior when dealing with third party ticket sales.

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How to Improve at Soccer

Although it might not seem that staring at your computer screen could transform you into a better soccer player, using the guidance of those more experienced than you can often prove very beneficial to your game. Use the Web sites in this section to read about the proper techniques for different soccer skills, good methods for training, specific drills that exercise your use of different abilities, and even guidance and advice for coaching teams and running practices.

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  • While advice can be very helpful, most players find that game experience is the best way to improve and test your competitive spirit. Check out the "Where can I find a place to play?" section of this guide to find leagues and pickup games in your area.
  • Learning from the pros is another common method to improve at soccer. Check out the game highlights for specific moves and skills or watch full games to observe strategy and team movement. The "Where can I find radio and television coverage?" section of this guide includes streaming video that you can use for learning.

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Buying Soccer Equipment and Apparel

There are many soccer-specific online retailers carrying all of the products you want to show your dedication as a fan, play the sport, or run a practice. Use these picks to find exactly what you need, whether online or locally. This section can help you make your purchases efficiently and cheaply, with discounts and shipping to places all over the world.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • Club and professional teams' official Web sites nearly always have a "store" section for purchasing jerseys, memorabilia, and more.
  • General online sports stores, such as the ones listed in the findingDulcinea Sports Guide, usually include soccer sections. Don't rule out sites just because they're not solely focused on soccer.
  • Many of these larger stores, as well as the equipment stores listed below, have apparel. Their selection is not as large as the apparel stores, however, and they might not offer authentic customization.
  • A large number of online sports supply stores feature memberships that provide various discounts. You can usually apply to these programs straight from the shops' Web sites.
  • Many sports stores offer catalogs featuring new inventory and products; these are usually available by request on their Web sites.

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Where to Play Soccer

As a team sport, soccer requires the participation of several different people. Whether you're a fan or a player, the picks in this section can help you find others who share your interest and want to partake in the full soccer-loving experience. Use the Web sites below to meet other soccer fanatics over the Internet or even in person.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • With soccer's growing popularity in the United States, it should be relatively easy to find a league in your region regardless of your age.
  • When looking for a league, make sure you're looking at leagues that match your needs in terms of age, skill level, and competition.

  • For a full game, 22 players are needed, not including coaches or substitutes. To get a friendly game going, it can be very helpful to link up with other players in your area using the social networking picks in this section.

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