Soccer is the world's most popular sport. It's a simple game that uses a round ball which players kick in order to score goals. While the sport is known as "football" in countries around the world, in the United States, everyone uses the word "soccer."
Soccer is played on a field that's in the shape of a rectangle--just like American football. There are goals at each end of the soccer field. Each team tries to score by kicking the ball into the goal. Players are not allowed to pick the ball up with their hands while the ball is in play; however, they may use other parts of their body to block or control the ball. Many players use their head to move the ball or score a goal. Only the goalie is permitted to pick up and throw the ball when it's on the field.
There are eleven players on each team: the goalkeeper is the most important position because he or she prevents the ball from being kicked into the goal. Forwards, also known as "strikers," work on offense. Defenders work on defense. Midfielders try to keep the ball moving towards their opponent's goal and away from their own goal.
Misconduct on the field is punished by showing a yellow card or a red card to a player who has committed a foul. Sometimes penalty kicks are given to teams that have been fouled inside the penalty area. Penalty kicks present a good opportunity for the fouled team to score a goal.
Soccer fans are notoriously loyal to the sport and to their teams. Sometimes loyalty to one's team results in fighting that breaks out among fans during or after a match. However, the sport of soccer is a good way to bring people from around the world together in friendly competition. The World Cup is played every four years, and it's the most closely-watched sporting event in the world.