Say ‘football’ to most people in the United States and they’ll think of quarterbacks, linebackers, touchdowns, and the Super Bowl. But around the world, ‘football’ means all kinds of different things to different people. As well as major league sports across the globe there are many variants, hybrids, or street games which also involve a ball and a foot. Let’s take a look at different types of football, from the well-known to the obscure.
Not Just Football vs. Soccer – Football Variations You Didn’t Know About
As iconic as Mickey Mouse or McDonald’s, American football is part of the cultural identity of the US. Played from the grassroots level in high school, through college, up to the top echelons of the NFL, football is the most popular sport in the country, with thousands attending (COVID notwithstanding) and millions more tuning in to cheer on their side or place bets on the action. The NFL is one of the most recognizable franchises on the planet.
The original sport with the word ‘football’ in the name, rugby is a game that requires absolute commitment, courage, skill, and stamina. It finds its traditional fan base across the British Isles and Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, as well as in parts of Europe (particularly France and Italy). Rugby’s reach has expanded due to the Rugby World Cup, and it now enjoys popularity in Asia, particularly Japan.
European football (soccer)
While the most popular sport on earth is played worldwide with professional leagues in most countries, it’s the big leagues in Europe that attract most of the attention. The quality of soccer played in Europe is dazzling, and big clubs have become major franchises. Soccer is, along with American Football and Rugby, also one of the most, if not the most popular sports to place bets on, and you can find information and insight about all major leagues – EPL, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 – and other resources online at the blogs dedicated exclusively to betting.
Australian (Aussie) Rules Football
Wildly popular in Australia, Aussie Rules is one of the football variations not for the faint-hearted. Played on an enormous round pitch the size of a cricket field, it is one of the most intensely physical contact sports of them all. Points are scored by kicking the oval ball between the middle goal posts (worth six points) or between a goal and behind post (worth one point). Fans are fiercely partisan, and bettors flock to the bookies to bet on the action.
A sport that grew out of sandy kickabouts, beach football variations are now widely played. The difficulty in dribbling the ball on sand means that all manner of acrobatic volleys, overheads, and scissor kicks make the game a great spectacle for observers. There is even a FIFA Beach Football World Cup.
Similar to 5-a-side football, Futsal is played on a hard court, usually indoors. It differs in the shape of the goal, which is more of a box, allowing for scoring above waist height. The other main difference is that the ball is weighted and smaller than a regular ball. This lends itself to close control and dribbling skills, so it’s no surprise that the sport was developed in South America, and remains immensely popular there.
A cousin of Futsal, street football is a combination of a regular game with added skills and tricks. Very popular with young people, and entertaining to watch, these football variations have also become internationally recognized and influential, among other things featuring on its own FIFA game by Electronic Arts.
From the streets to the swamp! Played in boggy ground or full-on swamps, the game is fairly niche, although there are reportedly 300 teams worldwide. Swamp football was invented in Finland and is said to build endurance and stamina. This is because of course, football isn’t meant to be played in swamps. But the resulting carnage looks like a lot of good, unclean fun.
What’s bubble football I hear you ask? Well, it’s football, but where all the players are wearing huge inflatable bubbles – of course. This means full body checks, collisions, and plenty of rolling about. Great fun, good for team building or just having a laugh with your friends, some have taken it a bit further, and launched a Bubble Football World Cup, although this is as yet unsanctioned by FIFA.
For older folks, or those that are less mobile, walking football is a great way to get some cardiovascular exercise in, and more interesting than simply walking. It does what it says on the tin – two teams playing football but without running. This is true footballing spirit – it’s a game for everyone.
Football – and footballs – comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re a fan of traditional sports, or you prefer street skills or fun and ridiculous games, there is bound to be a variation out there to enjoy.