Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Without qualifiers, the word soccer normally means the form of soccer that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports commonly called soccer include association football (known as soccer in North America and Oceania); gridiron football (specifically American football or Canadian football); Australian rules of football; rugby union and rugby league; and Gaelic football. These various forms of football share to a greater or lesser extent common origins and are known as codes of football.

There are a number of references to traditional, ancient, or prehistoric ball games that are played in many different parts of the world. Contemporary football codes date back to the codification of these games in English public schools during the 19th century. The expansion and cultural influence of the British Empire allowed these rules of football to spread to areas of British influence outside of the directly controlled Empire. By the end of the 19th century, different regional codes were already developing: Gaelic football, for example, deliberately incorporated the rules of local traditional football games to maintain its heritage. In 1888, The Football League was founded in England, becoming the first of many professional football associations. During the 20th century, several of the various types of soccer grew to become some of the most popular team sports in the world.

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