Australian rules football
Australian football, also called Australian rules football or Aussie rules, or more simply football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of 18 players on an oval field, often a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval ball between the central goal posts (worth six points), or between a central and outer post (worth one point, otherwise known as a "behind").
|Highest governing body||AFL Commission|
|Nicknames||Football, footy, Aussie rules|
|First played||May 1859 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Registered players||1,404,176 (2016)|
|Team members||22 (18 onfield, 4 interchange)|
|Mixed-sex||Up to age 14|
|Glossary||Glossary of Australian rules football|
|Olympic||Demonstration sport, 1956 Melbourne Olympics|
During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball. The primary methods are kicking, handballing and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled; for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed, and players must not get caught holding the ball. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch the ball from a kick (with specific conditions) are awarded unimpeded possession. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick or mark is paid. Players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact (such as pushing an opponent in the back), interference when marking, and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties, or suspension for a certain number of matches depending on the severity of the infringement. The game features frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball, and high scoring.
The sport's origins can be traced to football matches played in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1858, inspired by English public school football games. Seeking to develop a game more suited to adults and Australian conditions, the Melbourne Football Club published the first laws of Australian football in May 1859.
Australian football has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia, while the Australian Football League (AFL), the sport's only fully professional competition, is the nation's wealthiest sporting body. The AFL Grand Final, held annually at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, is the highest attended club championship event in the world. The sport is also played at amateur level in many countries and in several variations. Its rules are governed by the AFL Commission with the advice of the AFL's Laws of the Game Committee.