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How many different types of football are there?

Outside the United States and Canada, the word "football" usually refers to soccer: a game in which two teams kick a round ball around a field. The players score points by kicking the ball into the goal of the opposing team. Soccer is, by far, the most popular sport in the world. For example, there are more countries (208) belonging to the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA), than to the United Nations (192 countries).

The world soccer championship, called the World Cup, is run by the FIFA and held every four years. Teams from all over the world compete to be in the final matches. In 2006, they were held in Germany. In 2010, the World Cup will be in South Africa; in 2114, in Brazil.

People have been playing soccer-like games for as long as there have been people. However, modern soccer originated in England in the 1830s. In 1871, the English Football Association attempted to establish a consistent set of rules. Because of disagreements, the organization split into two groups: one using the so-called "Association" rules (regular soccer) and one using the "Rugby" rules, which evolved into a completely different game.

Unlike soccer, rugby uses a more oblong ball. Players carry or kick the ball over a goal line to score points. Rugby is named after the English school where the game was first played in 1823.

The games of American and Canadian football (there are minor differences) evolved from both rugby and soccer. The first modern football game in the U.S. was in 1874, when McGill University (Montreal, Canada) played Harvard. In 1920, the National Football League was founded in an auto showroom in Canton, Ohio.

The American football championship, the Super Bowl, is held every year at the end of January, and is a major commercial event, attracting a huge television audience within the U.S. Around the world, soccer and rugby are much more popular than American football. However, it is generally acknowledged that America has the best cheerleaders.

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