Soccer: 10 fun facts about ‘The Beautiful Game’

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California Baptist University has a tradition of winning in both men’s and women’s soccer. Both Lancer squads are coming off National Christian College Athletic Association national championships and are competing for the top spot among Pacific West Conference competition.

With the beginning of the new season, the opportunity now arises to gain a greater understanding of the internationally popular sport. Here are 10 things to know about soccer:

1. Soccer is the most popular sport worldwide.
Coming in ahead of No. 2 Cricket and No. 3 Field- Hockey, soccer holds the No.
1 spot for popularity around the world by a long shot. Fans of the game can be found in nearly every country on the planet.

2. People have been kicking the ball around for centuries.
One major reason it is popular in so many different places is because the game’s roots are internationally-based. The game can be traced back to similar games from the Han Dynasty in ancient China and the Roman Empire hundreds of years ago.

3. The field size can change.
Unlike North America’s version of football, there is no standard field size. In international matches, the field can be between 110-120 yards long and 70-80 yards
wide. In non-international matches, fields can be anywhere from 100-130 yards long and 50-100 yards wide. This gives the game a different feel in different venues.

4. Time does not stop — it turns into stoppage time.
The official time for a standard game is 90 minutes. Unlike other popular sports with time limits, there are no timeouts. Whenever there is a stop in play, whether it is for injury or a foul, the referee adds up the time that will be applied to the end of each half. The length of stoppage is at the discretion of the referee alone.

5. The bicycle kick is worth the price of admission.
It does not happen in every game, but this acrobatic feat is one of those stellar athletic achievements that make you say “Wow!”

6. Beware of the fans.
You would be hard-pressed to find fans that are more passionate about their sport than soccer fans. Sometimes this can lead to unruly behavior, there have been riots or fights at soccer games in six out of the seven continents and in 50 countries around the world (including the United States).

7. They just keep running, and running, and running…
Soccer players have to run for over 90 minutes. At an average pace of 4 mph, players run around six miles a game. This is a mix of sprinting, backpedaling and jogging.

8. Technology is making refereeing easier.
Chip-enabled soccer balls have microchip sensors that alert the referee when the ball has crossed the outer goal-line. This will help settle game-changing controversies instantly without human error.

9. Any player can bend it like Beckham.
Thanks to Isaac Newton and his application of physics, we know that a ball will “bend” when it is kicked slightly off-center. The gravitational pull along with the imbalance in pressure alongside the ball causes the ball to spin in a curved trajectory.

10. People enjoy watching soccer.
Major League Soccer actually averages higher attendance per game than the NBA and NHL. This shows that soccer is on the rise in the U.S.

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