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Life / Sport / Football
Football (soccer) in the UK
UK football
  European football
  World Cup
  Further information


This page gives a brief guide to British football.

In the UK the term football is usually used for the game played by kicking a round ball (the game which is popular in the US, played with an oval ball, is known as "American football"). The term soccer is also used widely, although it should really only be used for professional games, as the word is a short form of the phrase "association football".

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You can find information about the main international games from the websites of the national football associations:
- England & Wales: Football Association:
- Scotland: Scottish Football Association:
- Northern Ireland: Northern Irish Football Association:
International games can be sold out quickly. Tickets usually go on sale about 2 months before the game. Tickets for the English team's home games can be bought from the Football Association (FA): the number to call for tickets is 0870 902 0005.

The top teams in England play each other every season (from August until May) in the Premier League (the Premiership). Among the most famous clubs in England are Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal. The teams play each other twice each season (at home and away), and the three teams with the lowest number of points are relegated (into the Championship League). The two divisions below the Championship League are called League One and League Two.

For club games, find out if tickets are available by contacting the football club or by checking its website. People who have bought a season ticket will get tickets first, then members, then non-members. It can be difficult for visitors to get tickets to see the most popular Premiership teams.

The Premiership teams in the 2013/14 season are as follows:

Football club (FC) Nickname Location Name of ground
Arsenal The Gunners N London Emirates Stadium
Aston Villa The Villans Birmingham Villa Park
Cardiff City The Bluebirds Cardiff Cardiff City Stadium
Chelsea The Blues London Stamford Bridge
Crystal Palace The Eagles/Glaziers London Selhurst Park
Everton The Toffees Liverpool Goodison Park
Fulham The Cottagers SW London Craven Cottage
Hull City The Tigers Hull KC Stadium
Liverpool The Reds Liverpool Anfield
Manchester City (Man City) The Blues/Citizens Manchester Maine Road
Manchester United (Man Utd) The Red Devils Manchester Old Trafford
Newcastle United The Magpies/The Toon Newcastle upon Tyne
St James' Park
Norwich City The Canaries Norwich Carrow Road
Southampton The Saints Southampton St Mary's Stadium
Stoke City The Potters Stoke Britannia Stadium
Sunderland The Black Cats/Mackems Sunderland Stadium of Light
Swansea City The Swans/Jacks Swansea Liberty Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Spurs/Lilywhites N London White Hart Lane
West Bromwich Albion (West Brom) Albion, The Baggies, The Throstles Newcastle The Hawthorns
West Ham The Hammers E London Boleyon Ground

Manchester United

Manchester City




Clubs from all of the football divisions in England and Wales take part in a knockout competition which ends with the FA Cup Final in May.
For more information about the FA Cup, see the Football Association's website:

The FA Cup Final is played at Wembley Stadium (London)

Fans enjoy pre-match celebrations

Entrance to the stadium

Flypast by the Red Arrows before the game starts

Another team competition is the Football League Cup (known as the Carling Cup since 2004). This starts as a knock-out competition. The semi-final is played in two legs (a home game and away game), and the final is played as a single game at a neutral ground.

The top Scottish teams play in the Scottish Premier League. There is also a knockout competition in Scotland to win the Scottish FA Cup. Top Scottish teams include Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, Aberdeen and Dundee United. Celtic and Rangers are both based in Glasgow, and Hearts is based in Edinburgh.

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The main competition between top European local teams is the UEFA Champions League (formerly known as the European Cup). The second most important competition is the UEFA Cup. Both of these competitions take place every year.

The European Cup (UEFA European Football Championship) finals take place every 4 years. Matches are between national teams from throughout Europe.

The Euro 2016 competition will be held in France from 10 June - 10 July 2016.

For the European Cup finals, teams are divided into qualifying groups and play a league system (each team plays each of the other teams once at home and once away, 3 points are awarded for a win and 1 point for a draw). The two teams in each group with the highest number of points go through to the finals (the host country/countries for the finals automatically qualify). In the finals the teams are divided into 4 groups of 4. At first there is a league-style competition and the two top teams in each group go through. This is followed by the knockout rounds: only one game is played in each of these rounds. If the score is even after 90 minutes, a further 30 minutes of extra time is played. If the score is still even the winner is chosen using a penalty shoot-out.

For further information about Euro 2016, see:

Past events:
The Euro 2012 competition was held jointly in Poland and Ukraine in June 2012. Spain defeated Italy 4-0 in the final.
The Euro 2008 competition was held jointly in Austria and Switzerland in June 2008. Spain defeated Germany 1-0 in the final.
The Euro 2004 competition was held in Portugal. The final was won 1-0 by Greece (playing Portugal).

The qualifying groups for the 2012 competition were as follows:

Team 1
Team 2
Team 3
Team 4
Czech Republic
Republic of Ireland

The match schedule was shown below (kick-off times are UK times - the time in Ukraine is 2 hours ahead of the UK, and the time in Poland is 1 hour ahead of the UK):

Date UK Time
Teams Venue
Fri 8th June 5:00pm
Poland v Greece Warsaw
Fri 8th June 7:45pm
Russia v Czech Republic Wroclaw
Sat 9th June 5:00pm
Netherlands v Denmark Kharkiv
Sat 9th June 7:45pm
Germany v Portugal Lviv
Sun 10th June 5:00pm
Spain v Italy Gdansk
Sun 10th June 7:45pm
Rep of Ireland v Croatia Poznan
Mon 11th June 5:00pm
France v England Donetsk
Mon 11th June 7:45pm
Ukraine v Sweden Kiev
Tue 12th June 5:00pm
Greece v Czech Republic Wroclaw
Tue 12th June 7:45pm
Poland v Russia Warsaw
Wed 13th June 5:00pm
Denmark v Portugal Lviv
Wed 13th June 7:45pm
Netherlands v Germany Kharkiv
Thu 14th June 5:00pm
Italy v Croatia Poznan
Thu 14th June 7:45pm
Spain v Rep of Ireland Gdansk
Fri 15th June 5:00pm
Sweden v England Kiev
Fri 15th June 7:45pm
Ukraine v France Donetsk
Sat 16th June 7:45pm
Czech Republic v Poland Wroclaw
Sat 16th June 7:45pm
Greece v Russia Warsaw
Sun 17th June 7:45pm
Portugal v Netherlands Kharkiv
Sun 17th June 7:45pm
Denmark v Germany Lviv
Mon 18th June 7:45pm
Croatia v Spain Gdansk
Mon 18th June 7:45pm
Italy v Rep of Ireland Poznan
Tue 19th June 7:45pm
England v Ukraine Donetsk
Tue 19th June 7:45pm
Sweden v France Kiev
Thu 21st June 7:45pm
1st Group A v 2nd Group B Warsaw
Fri 22nd June 7:45pm
1st Group B v 2nd Group A Gdansk
Sat 23rd June 7:45pm
1st Group C v 2nd Group D Donetsk
Sun 24th June 7:45pm
1st Group D v 2nd Group C Kiev
Wed 27th June 7:45pm
Winner QF1 v Winner QF3 Donetsk
Thu 28th June 7:45pm
Winner QF2 v Winner QF4 Warsaw
Sun 1st July 7:45pm
Final Kiev

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The 2014 World Cup will be played in Brazil in June/July 2014.
32 teams compete, divided into 8 groups of 4.

Stage Date UK Time Venue Team 1 Team 2 Station
Group A 12 Jun 9:00 PM Sao Paulo Brazil Croatia ITV
Group A 13 Jun 5:00 PM Natal Mexico Cameroon ITV
Group B 13 Jun 8:00 PM Salvador Spain Netherlands BBC
Group B 13 Jun 11:00 PM Cuiaba Chile Australia ITV
Group C 14 Jun 5:00 PM Belo Horizonte Colombia Greece BBC
Group C 14 Jun 2:00 AM Recife Côte d'Ivoire Japan ITV
Group D 14 Jun 8:00 PM Fortaleza Uruguay Costa Rica ITV
Group D 14 Jun 11:00 PM Manaus England Italy BBC
Group E 15 Jun 5:00 PM Brasilia Switzerland Ecuador ITV
Group E 15 Jun 8:00 PM Porto Alegre France Honduras BBC
Group F 15 Jun 11:00 PM Rio De Janeiro Argentina Bosnia and Herzegovina BBC
Group F 16 Jun 8:00 PM Curitiba Iran Nigeria BBC
Group G 16 Jun 5:00 PM Salvador Germany Portugal ITV
Group G 16 Jun 11:00 PM Natal Ghana USA BBC
Group H 17 Jun 5:00 PM Belo Horizonte Belgium Algeria ITV
Group H 17 Jun 11:00 PM Cuiaba Russia Korea Republic BBC
Group A 17 Jun 8:00 PM Fortaleza Brazil Mexico BBC
Group A 18 Jun 11:00 PM Manaus Cameroon Croatia ITV
Group B 18 Jun 8:00 PM Rio De Janeiro Spain Chile BBC
Group B 18 Jun 5:00 PM Porto Alegre Australia Netherlands ITV
Group C 19 Jun 5:00 PM Brasilia Colombia Côte d'Ivoire BBC
Group C 19 Jun 11:00 PM Natal Japan Greece BBC
Group D 19 Jun 8:00 PM Sao Paulo Uruguay England ITV
Group D 20 Jun 5:00 PM Recife Italy Costa Rica BBC
Group E 20 Jun 8:00 PM Salvador Switzerland France ITV
Group E 20 Jun 11:00 PM Curitiba Honduras Ecuador ITV
Group F 21 Jun 5:00 PM Belo Horizonte Argentina Iran ITV
Group F 21 Jun 11:00 PM Cuiaba Nigeria Bosnia and Herzegovina BBC
Group G 21 Jun 8:00 PM Fortaleza Germany Ghana BBC
Group G 22 Jun 11:00 PM Manaus USA Portugal BBC
Group H 22 Jun 5:00 PM Rio De Janeiro Belgium Russia BBC
Group H 22 Jun 8:00 PM Porto Alegre Korea Republic Algeria ITV
Group A 23 Jun 9:00 PM Brasilia Cameroon Brazil ITV
Group A 23 Jun 9:00 PM Recife Croatia Mexico ITV
Group B 23 Jun 5:00 PM Curitiba Australia Spain ITV
Group B 23 Jun 5:00 PM Sao Paulo Netherlands Chile ITV
Group C 24 Jun 9:00 PM Cuiaba Japan Colombia BBC
Group C 24 Jun 9:00 PM Fortaleza Greece Côte d'Ivoire BBC
Group D 24 Jun 5:00 PM Natal Italy Uruguay ITV
Group D 24 Jun 5:00 PM Belo Horizonte Costa Rica England ITV
Group E 25 Jun 9:00 PM Manaus Honduras Switzerland BBC
Group E 25 Jun 9:00 PM Rio De Janeiro Ecuador France BBC
Group F 25 Jun 5:00 PM Porto Alegre Nigeria Argentina ITV
Group F 25 Jun 5:00 PM Salvador Bosnia and Herzegovina Iran ITV
Group G 26 Jun 5:00 PM Recife USA Germany BBC
Group G 26 Jun 5:00 PM Brasilia Portugal Ghana BBC
Group H 26 Jun 9:00 PM Sao Paulo Korea Republic Belgium ITV
Group H 26 Jun 9:00 PM Curitiba Algeria Russia ITV
Second-round 1 28 Jun 5:00 PM Belo Horizonte Winner Group A Runner-up Group B tba
Second-round 2 28 Jun 9:00 PM Rio De Janeiro Winner Group C Runner-up Group D tba
Second-round 3 29 Jun 5:00 PM Fortaleza Winner Group B Runner-up Group A tba
Second-round 4 29 Jun 9:00 PM Recife Winner Group D Runner-up Group C tba
Second-round 5 30 Jun 5:00 PM Brasilia Winner Group E Runner-up Group F tba
Second-round 6 30 Jun 9:00 PM Porto Alegre Winner Group G Runner-up Group H tba
Second-round 7 01 Jul 5:00 PM Sao Paulo Winner Group F Runner-up Group E tba
Second-round 8 01 Jul 9:00 PM Salvador Winner Group H Runner-up Group G tba
Quarter-final 1 04 Jul 9:00 PM Fortaleza Winner Second-round 1 Winner Second-round 2 tba
Quarter-final 2 04 Jul 5:00 PM Rio De Janeiro Winner Second-round 5 Winner Second-round 6 tba
Quarter-final 3 05 Jul 9:00 PM Salvador Winner Second-round 3 Winner Second-round 4 tba
Quarter-final 4 05 Jul 5:00 PM Brasilia Winner Second-round 7 Winner Second-round 8 tba
Semi-final 1 08 Jul 9:00 PM Belo Horizonte Winner Quarter-final 1 Winner Quarter-final 2 tba
Semi-final 2 09 Jul 9:00 PM Sao Paulo Winner Quarter-final 3 Winner Quarter-final 4 tba
Play-off 12 Jul 9:00 PM Brasilia Loser Semi-final 1 Loser Semi-final 2 tba
Final 13 Jul 8:00 PM Rio De Janeiro Winner Semi-final 1 Winner Semi-final 2 tba

The official website of the World Cup competition:

Past events:
The 2010 World Cup was played in South Africa. In the final, Spain beat the Netherlands in extra time.
The 2006 World Cup was played in Germany. In the final, Italy beat France (on penalty kicks).

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The goalkeeper (also known as the goalie, or keeper) wears the number 1 shirt. The person's job is to save goals, by stopping the ball from crossing the line under the goalposts. He is allowed to use his hands, but only inside the box (18 yard box or penalty box) marked around the goalposts. If a member of the attacking team touches the ball inside the box (known as handball), or if an attacker is held or tackled unfairly in the box, the attacking team way be awarded a penalty kick (penalty). This gives a member of the attacking team a chance to kick the ball from the edge of the penalty box, with only the goalkeeper defending the goal.

A defender plays mainly in the area in front of his own team's goal. A full-back plays the wider positions, a central defender plays in the middle. Two possible variations are a wing-back, who plays the wider positions at the back but comes forward as well, and a sweeper, whose job is to stay close to the goal area to make the defence stronger.

A midfielder plays mainly in the centre of the field. A winger (or wide midfielder) plays the wider positions, while a central midfielder plays in the middle.

A striker plays mainly in the opposing team's half of the field. The person's main job is to try to score a goal.

The formation of a team depends on the main roles of the players. The most common formation in British football is 4-4-2, meaning 4 defenders, 4 midfielders and 2 strikers.

(note: numbers/positions vary)

1 : Goalkeeper ("goalie")

2/3 : Centre back
4 : Right back/fullback
5 : Left back/fullback

6: Inside right or right wing half
7 : Right wing
8: Inside left or left wing half
11: Left wing

9/10 : Centre forward

For more football vocabulary, see:

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BBC Sport (football):
Football rules explained:

UK football headlines:

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