The various codes of football share the following common elements:
- Two teams of usually between 11 and 18 players; some variations that have fewer players (five or more per team) are also popular.
- A clearly defined area in which to play the game.
- Scoring goals or points, by moving the ball to an opposing team's end of the field and either into a goal area, or over a line.
- Goals or points resulting from players putting the ball between two goalposts.
- The goal or line being defended by the opposing team.
- Players being required to move the ball—depending on the code—by kicking, carrying, or hand-passing the ball.
- Players using only their body to move the ball.
In most codes, there are rules restricting the movement of players offside, and players scoring a goal must put the ball either under or over a crossbar between the goalposts. Other features common to several football codes include: points being mostly scored by players carrying the ball across the goal line; and players receiving a free kick after they take a markor make a fair catch.
Peoples from around the world have played games which involved kicking or carrying a ball, since ancient times. However, most of the modern codes of football have their origins inEngland.
While it is widely assumed that the word "football" (or "foot ball") references the action of the foot kicking a ball, there is a historical explanation, which is that football originally referred to a variety of games in medieval Europe, which were played on foot. These games were usually played by peasants, as opposed to the horse-riding sports (such as polo) often played byaristocrats. There is no conclusive evidence for either explanation, and the word football has always implied a variety of games played on foot, not just those that involved kicking a ball. In some cases, the word football has even been applied to games which have specifically outlawed kicking the ball