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Sports: Soccer

Soccer has a long history which, like a lot of other sports, started in Britain. The first real rules of the game were based on those used by players at Cambridge University in 1863, when the Football Association (FA) was formed. The first international game was played between Scotland and England in 1872 and was a goalless draw. The first floodlit game took place in Sheffield, England, in 1878.

There are many famous soccer clubs in Britain, some with interesting sounding names such as Brighton and Hove Albion. Albion is an ancient name for Britain. When the word 'city' is in a team name, as in Bristol City, means that the club is in a city. Rangers are people that travel in search of honor and glory, which is where Glasgow and Queens Park Rangers get their names. United, as in Manchester United or Newcastle United, often means that two teams joined together to make one. Newcastle United was formed in 1892 from Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End joining together.

A lot of teams are best known by their nicknames. Some are known by colors, simply because of the color they play in. Chelsea is known as the Blues and Liverpool as the Reds. West Ham is known as the Hammers because their first players used to be ironworkers. Arsenal is known as the Gunners because their players were originally workers from Woolwich Arsenal, where ammunition was made.

Professional soccer in the UK is organized into leagues. The top 20 clubs in England play in the FA Premier League followed by Divisions One, Two and Three, which each have 24 in them. The Scottish Premier League has 12 clubs and another 30 play in Divisions One, Two and Three. Three professional Welsh teams play in the Football League and 20 semi-professional clubs in Northern Ireland play in the Irish Football League.

The two most important games in the soccer season are the FA and Worthington (League) Cup games. The League Cup is sponsored by Worthington.

Soccer players themselves are now big celebrities in the UK and worldwide. Some famous British players go to play in other clubs overseas, but the best ones still play for their national UK teams when they compete in international competitions like the World Cup.

The World Cup, the world’s most watched sporting event, is played every four years. The tournament was last played in 2006 in Germany, when Italy won the championship. It was last played in Britain in 1966. England was champion that year.

Perhaps the most famous British player today is David Beckham who once played for Manchester United, but currently plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy. A popular soccer movie was even made that had his name in the title; 'Bend it Like Beckham.' David captains the England team in international games.

Soccer is governed worldwide by one organization—FIFA, which stands for Federation Internationale de Football Association.

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