Definitions

soccer

soccer

[sok-er]
soccer, outdoor ball and goal game, also called association football or simply football. The first recorded game probably was that on a Shrove Tuesday in Derby, England, part of a festival to celebrate a victory over a contingent of Roman troops (A.D. 217). By 1175 the Shrove Tuesday soccer game was an annual event.

The sport remained popular for centuries in England under the name football. But the advent of rugby (1823) as a variant led to confusion. The London Football Association was formed (1863) to further the game that emphasized the kicking of the ball. This became known as association football and then, through abbreviation, as soccer. It was rapidly adopted in continental Europe, where it still generally goes under the name football. Other related sports called football are popular in countries including Ireland and Australia.

Soccer is the most popular international team sport, followed by vast, emotional audiences and associated at times with such events as the 1969 "Soccer War" between El Salvador and Honduras and oubreaks of mass hooliganism, notably by British supporters. It has long been secondary in the United States, though, where American football, a descendant primarily of rugby, dominates. Since the 1970s, American soccer has grown at many levels, from childrens' to collegiate; professional soccer, however, has achieved only sporadic success, with the birth and decline of several leagues as fan interest generally lagged. The most recent U.S. professional league, Major League Soccer, played its first season in 1996 and currently has 12 teams.

International competition is regulated by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA; founded 1904), which sponsors the quadrennial (since 1930) World Cup competition and whose membership is larger than that of the United Nations. Soccer has been an Olympic event since 1900. The first Women's World Cup, in 1991, was won by the United States, where women's soccer has won more attention than men's; the women's competition was added to the Olympics in 1996. Sparked by these successes, a U.S. professional women's soccer league consisting of eight teams recruited from the best players worldwide began play in 2001, but it folded two years later.

The game is played on a grassy field usually 120 yd by 75 yd (110 m by 70 m). Centered on each end line is a goal, 8 yd (7.3 m) wide by 8 ft (2.4 m) high, backed with netting. A team consists of eleven players—traditionally a goalkeeper, two fullbacks, three halfbacks, and five forwards. Recent variants on these positions include the striker, a forward who remains close to the opponents' goal, and the sweeper, a roving defender. Play is continuous through two 45-min periods, and substitutions are severely limited. Overtime is played in case of a tie, and if no further scoring occurs, the match may be resolved with a series of alternating penalty kicks.

The object of the game is to advance an inflated leather ball—about 28 in. (71 cm) in circumference—into the opponents' goal. The ball is kicked (often dribbled with short kicks) or advanced with other parts of the body, but only the goalkeeper may use the hands. Each goal counts one point. Penalties are various types of free kicks, depending on the infraction; a player may be ejected (without replacement) for a flagrant foul. Perhaps the greatest soccer player of all time is Brazil's Pelé; other modern notables have included David Beckham (England), Franz Beckenbauer (Germany), Diego Maradona (Argentina), and Zinadine Zidane (France).

See B. Glanville, Soccer (1968); T. Smits, The Game of Soccer (1968); A. Clues and D. Jack, Soccer for Players and Coaches (1980); J. Lever, Soccer Madness (1983).

An American professional football field. The standard college field is nearly identical but has a elipsis

Game played, predominantly in the U.S. and Canada, on a rectangular field having two goalposts at each end. In the U.S. it is played between two teams of 11 players each. The object is to get an oblong ball, in possession of one side at a time, over a goal line or between goalposts by running, passing, or kicking. A team must advance the ball 10 yards in four attempts (called downs) in order to continue to have the ball for another four downs. A kick through the goalposts (field goal) counts as three points. A run or completed pass over the goal line (touchdown) counts as six points. Following a touchdown, a team may attempt to kick the ball through the goalposts for one additional point or to run or pass the ball over the goal line for two additional points. Gridiron football (so-called because of the markings on the field), derived from rugby and soccer (see football), emerged in the late 19th century as a collegiate sport; the early rules were mostly written by representatives from Yale, Harvard, and Princeton universities. Each year the college football season concludes with a host of bowl games held on and around New Year's Day. Professional football began in the 1890s but did not become a major sport until after World War II. The National Football League was formed in 1922. The NFL is now divided into an American and a National conference; the conference winners compete for the Super Bowl championship. A Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio, U.S. Canadian football differs from U.S. football principally by having 12 players on a team rather than 11, employing a larger field, and allowing only three downs to move the ball 10 yards. These variations allow for a more wide-open style of game, with an emphasis on passing. Seealso Canadian Football League.

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or association football or soccer

A professional football (soccer) field. International rules allow for variations in the overall elipsis

Game in which two 11-member teams try to propel a ball into the opposing team's goal, using any part of the body except the hands and arms. Only the goalkeeper, when positioned within the penalty area in front of the goal, may use hands and arms. The game's first uniform set of rules was put in place in 1863, when England's Football Association was created. Professional leagues began appearing in the late 1880s, first in England and then in other countries. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in 1904, and has hosted the World Cup every four years since 1930. Football has been included in the Olympic Games since 1908. Now played on all continents in over 150 nations, with over 40 million registered players, it is the world's most popular ball game. Seealso Australian Rules football; Gaelic football; football, gridiron; and rugby.

Learn more about football with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Irish sport, an offshoot of the violent medieval game mêlée. In the modern game, sides are limited to 15 players. Players may not throw the ball but may dribble it with hand or foot and may punch or punt it toward their opponents' goal. Goals count as either one or three points, depending on whether the ball passes above (one) or below (three) a crossbar attached to the goalposts. It is played mostly in Ireland and the U.S.

Learn more about Gaelic football with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Variety of football played between two teams of 18 players. The field is oval, 145–200 yd (135–185 m) long, with four goalposts at each end. A six-point goal is scored when the oval ball is kicked through the two central goalposts. A one-point “behind” is scored when the ball is kicked over the behind line extending between the central and outer goalposts. The game's finest spectacle is the “mark” in which competing players leap, sometimes riding on the back of an opponent, in order to catch the ball directly from the kick of another player. The player making such a catch is awarded a mark, an unhindered kick from behind the spot of the catch. The sport was developed in Melbourne. The Victorian Football League was established in 1896 as the first professional league. It was renamed the Australian Football League in 1990 to reflect the addition of franchises outside of Victoria state.

Learn more about Australian rules football with a free trial on Britannica.com.

The Chicago Fire is a professional soccer club based in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, Illinois, USA. It participates in Major League Soccer. The team was founded October 8 1997 on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1998, their first season in the league, the Fire won the MLS Cup as well as the U.S. Open Cup (the "double"). They have also won the 2000, 2003, and 2006 U.S. Open Cup.

The Chicago Fire has had a cooperative agreement with Monarcas Morelia, a Mexican First Division football club, since 2001. The partnership incorporates playing, coaching, and executive personnel, as well as sharing of business and development practices.

The club also has - through its reserves program, the Chicago Fire Premier amateur team playing in the Premier Development League, and the Chicago Fire Juniors youth teams - a substantial youth development system by American standards. It also has a charitable community entity, the FireWorks for Kids Foundation.

The official team colors are red and white; black, navy blue and sky blue have also been used by the Fire as accent/alternate colors over its history.

History

Overview

The club was founded on October 8 1997. They are the most successful club in the U.S. Open Cup since the foundation of Major League Soccer, winning championships in 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006. Chicago's chief rival is FC Dallas. Since 2001, the two teams compete annually for the Brimstone Cup (established by the fans of both teams), which goes to the victor in the season series between them. While FC Dallas remains the most historically heated rival, recent years have fostered venom between the Fire and the New England Revolution with the clubs ending each other's season every year since 2001. The Fire originally played at Soldier Field, but now have their own stadium, Toyota Park at 71st and Harlem Avenue. Toyota Park is owned by the Village of Bridgeview and operated by the owners of the Fire, Andell Holdings -- who purchased the club in 2007. The Fire also keeps a close connection with its predecessor team the Chicago Sting by holding frequent commemmorative events, reunions, and wearing Sting-inspired shirts.

A number of famous players have worn the Fire shirt, including the US internationals Chris Armas, Frank Klopas, Eric Wynalda, DaMarcus Beasley, Josh Wolff, Tony Sanneh, Carlos Bocanegra, and Justin Mapp; and other Americans like Jesse Marsch, C.J. Brown, Ante Razov, Zach Thornton, and Chris Rolfe. Chicago has also imported both established international talent such as Peter Nowak, Lubos Kubik, Hristo Stoichkov, Tomasz Frankowski, and Cuauhtémoc Blanco; and younger developmental players like Damani Ralph, Ivan Guerrero, Bakary Soumare, and Patrick Nyarko.

Foundation and Success (97-02)

Founded on the anniversary of the Great Fire in a 1997 ceremony at Navy Pier, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club immediately tapped into the ethnic makeup of its city, bringing in Polish players like Peter Nowak, Jerzy Podbrozny, and Roman Kosecki, Mexican Jorge Campos, and Czech Lubos Kubik. While all showed their talent while playing for Chicago (especially Nowak, the captain for 5 years) it was the young American players that overall proved most successful and integral to success continuing to this day. The club, against all expectation, completed the "double" in 1998: beating DC United in the league final at the Rose Bowl to take the MLS Cup, and a week later defeating the Columbus Crew in Chicago to win the U.S. Open Cup.

Success continued for several seasons to come, reaching the 2000 MLS Cup Final (only to lose to Kansas City) and winning the 2000 U.S. Open Cup. Notable internationally seasoned players like Hristo Stoitchkov, and young American talents such as DaMarcus Beasley competed for the club's first head coach, Bob Bradley.

Nomadic Existence (02-05)

After spending the season exiled to play in west suburban Naperville, Illinois while Soldier Field underwent massive renovations, Coach Bradley left unexpectedly after the 2002 season to lead the MetroStars, the club from his home state of New Jersey. After an extensive search the team selected Dave Sarachan, the top assistant on the US national team, to lead the Fire. Chicago, returning to play again at Soldier Field, qualified for the 2003 league final, capturing the 2003 MLS Supporters' Shield (awarded for the league's best regular season record) and winning the 2003 U.S. Open Cup. 2003 also saw team captain Peter Nowak retire and take a position in the front office, only to depart a year later to become coach at DC United. New talents emerged for the team, including Jamaican striker Damani Ralph and Justin Mapp. The growing strength of the Eastern Conference made Chicago's league life more difficult in ensuing seasons, and they missed the playoffs in 2004 for the first time in their history.

Upheaval and New Home (05-07)

The 2005 season began abruptly with the unexpected dismissal of popular club president Peter Wilt by owners AEG despite the brokering of a $100m stadium deal in Bridgeview, and replaced him immediately with Metrostars executive John Guppy; a move decried by most fans, many players, and club staff. The year was also notable for the blockbuster exhibition match against A.C. Milan and the shocking 4-0 away defeat of DC United in the first round of the league playoffs.

In 2006, the club moved from Soldier Field into a $100m purpose-built 20,000 capacity stadium at the corner of 71st Street and Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, on the southwest side of Chicago. A unspectacular league campaign followed, but an impressive cup run led to the 2006 U.S. Open Cup title.

Despite a record of consistent success throughout its history, especially in the U.S. Open Cup, the anxiety to win another league title continued to grow. Coach Sarachan entered 2007, his fifth season in charge, under intense pressure from fans and the club to produce a league championship sooner rather than later. On April 3 2007, the Fire signed Mexican international and América star Cuauhtémoc Blanco to a Designated Player contract. Blanco would join the team at the conclusion of his contract with Club America that June. Although the exact salary details were not disclosed per policy, Blanco would be under contract with the Fire until 2009. After a 3-0-1 start, the Fire won only one game of their next eight, leading to Sarachan's dismissal. John Guppy, after a brief search, named Millionarios manager Juan Carlos Osorio as head coach.

The Hauptman Era (07-)

On September 6, 2007, Andell Holdings, a Los Angeles-based private investment firm with global business and investment interests controlled by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Hauptman, announced their acquisition of AEG's interests in the Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Toyota Park. While not officially disclosed, reports estimated the purchase price to be upwards of $35 million. Behind Blanco and the acquisition of Osorio's central defender at Millionarios, Wilman Conde, the Fire went on an extended unbeaten run to close the season and qualify for the playoffs; only to fall to New England again in the Eastern Final at Gillette Stadium.

On December 10, 2007, the club announced the resignation of Juan Carlos Osorio. Osorio was named head coach of Red Bull New York on December 18, 2007. Chicago were compensated by New York for Osorio's hiring with draft picks and cash. Owner Andrew Hauptman filed tampering charges with the league in protest of RBNY's handling of the matter.

On January 17, 2008, former Fire star Frank Klopas was named Technical Director in charge of player personnel, and longtime assistant Denis Hamlett was appointed head coach. Former Fire assistant and Dallas manager Mike Jeffries and retired Fire legend Chris Armas were hired as assistants.

In preparation for the 2008 season, Chicago signed Polish international forward Tomasz Frankowski, recently of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Lider Marmol. However, the club failed to reach an agreement on a contract for both starting goalkeeper Matt Pickens who departed for Queens Park Rangers F.C. and their drafted US U23 international Dominic Cervi.

On April 11th 2008, club owner and Chairman Andrew Hauptman relieved president John Guppy of his duties effective immediately. It is believed the removal of Guppy was due directly to the mishandling of the Juan Carlos Osorio departure over the past offseason. Javier León, head of Andell Sports (the club's holding company) acted as interim president while a search was conducted, while many fans called for the reinstatement of former club president Peter Wilt.

Chairman Andrew Hauptmann named former Chicago Bears executive Dave Greeley club president on August 26th 2008. Greeley has been cited as dismissive and insulting to the Fire and the sport of soccer in his previous role with the Chicago Bears by former Fire executives .

Club logo and colors

The Chicago Fire logo is derived from the standard style of a Fire Department's crest (also shown by the Chicago Fire Department). The shape is also known as a Florian's cross, often confused with the Maltese cross, and was picked in part due to the wishes of original GM Peter Wilt to create an image that was both as timeless as those of the NHL Original Six and evocative of European soccer. There is a stylized 'C' in the center representing Chicago, similar to the logos of the Bears and Cubs. The six star points around the center reference the four six-pointed stars in the municipal flag of the City of Chicago. The four stars in the city's flag represent the four monumental events in the history of the city, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the 1893 World's Fair, the 1933 World's Fair, and the Fort Dearborn Massacre.

Nike, the original club outfitters, wanted the team to be named Chicago Rhythm featuring a turqouise, black and green color scheme and a cobra adorned logo -- but team officials declined and developed the Fire identity.

The original Fire shirts in 1998 were chosen because of their resemblance to a Chicago fireman's coat, featuring broad horizontal stripes across the torso and sleeves. The home jerseys were rendered in red and white with "FIRE" in silver on the front; the away shirts were white and black in this same style. Over the years the look has become more stylized but the core idea of the home shirts being all-red with a white horizontal chest stripe has remained constant, even though the uniform manufacturer has changed from Nike in 1998, to Puma in 2003, and then adidas in 2006. Away/secondary shirts have changed over the years from the aforementioned white/black in 1998, to white/navy, and the white/red style currently used. In 2005 a popular light blue-colored third shirt based on the Municipal Flag of Chicago was worn but discontinued during the change in manufacturer to adidas.

Aside from the badge, jersey style, and colors, the club and their fans frequently use the rich civic symbolism of Chicago in materials they produce. The six-pointed Chicago stars are prominent but the light blue color, municipal device (Y-circle), and skyline appear on the team website, scarves, and banners in the stadium. The Municipal Flag is also favored for display by fans of the club; somewhat akin to the use of the flag of Catalonia for FC Barcelona fans - but without the associated nationalism.

On January 11th, 2008, the team reached a deal with Best Buy to become the jersey sponsor.

Fans

There is a considerable ultras culture for the club, a phenomenon fairly unique and new in the United States. Ultras groups and fan clubs occupy a standing room only general admission area directly behind the north goal in the Harlem End of Toyota Park (Sections 117 and 118) that is referred to as Section 8. This term stems from both the numbering of the original sector of Soldier Field they occupied, as well as the American military designation of discharged soldiers declared mentally unfit for service. Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters' Association for the Chicago Fire, oversees the activities of the various groups; they include Barn Burners 1871 (the oldest group, established before the club was founded), Fire Ultras '98 (a Polish ultras group), and Ultras Red-Side (a multi ethnic ultras group). Other smaller groups are Sector Latino (a Latin "barra"-style group), Mike Ditka Street Crew, Whiskey Brothers Aught Five, "The Last Ward", "Red Scare", Blitzer Mob and Arsonists. Though emulating varied support styles from Chicago and throughout the world, groups as part of Section 8 are allied and generally fall under the ultras designation. Section 8 Chicago ISA is a non-profit organization recognized by the state of Illinois.

Other than the supporters' groups, the club is known for its stadium wide vocal and visual support, particularly for matches of great competitive importance. Call-and-response cheering amongst the crowd is commonplace. Toyota Park, during Fire matches, are one of the few American sports environments to periodically engage in acts of tifo, or visual displays put on by fans before the match to show their pride and inspire the players on the field.

Players and coaches

Current Roster

As of August 8, 2008. (Vice-captain) (Captain)

Notable former players

This list of former players includes those who received international caps while playing for the team, made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.

Head coaches

Front office

Club presidents

General Managers

Assistant Coaches

Team Physicians

Ring of Fire

The "Ring of Fire" was established in 2003 by the Chicago Fire and the Chicago Fire Alumni Association as permanent tribute to honor those who have made the Chicago Fire a proud and successful club over the course of its history. Aside from the initial member, only "Ring of Fire" members can select new inductees, and no more than one can be selected any year. The names of the "Ring of Fire" are prominently displayed in Chicago's home stadium. On July 22, 2006, the first former front office member, ex-President and General Manager Peter Wilt, was selected for induction into the "Ring of Fire."

Honors

Domestic

International

International competition

Year-by-year

Year Reg. Season Playoffs Open Cup CONCACAF
Champions' Cup
SuperLiga
1998 2nd, West Champions Champions Did not qualify Started in 2007
1999 3rd, West Quarterfinals Round of 16 3rd place
2000 1st, Central Final Champions Did not qualify
2001 1st, Central Semifinals Quarterfinals Not held
2002 3rd, East Quarterfinals Round of 16 Quarterfinals
2003 1st, East* Final Champions Did not qualify
2004 5th, East Did not qualify Final Semifinals
2005 3rd, East Semifinals Semifinals Did not qualify
2006 3rd, East Quarterfinals Champions Did not qualify
2007 4th, East Semifinals Round of 16 Did not qualify Did not participate

* Won MLS Supporters' Shield

Club records

MLS regular season only, through 2007

  • All-Time regular season record: 143-108-54 (Through 2007 regular season)

Home stadiums

Average attendance

regular season/playoffs

  • 1998: 17,887/22,677
  • 1999: 16,016/8,197
  • 2000: 13,387/8,431
  • 2001: 16,388/11,239
  • 2002: 12,922/9,434
  • 2003: 14,005/14,961
  • 2004: 17,153/missed playoffs
  • 2005: 17,238/11,493
  • 2006: 14,088/10,217
  • 2007: 16,490/17,834
  • 2008: 16,667/TBD (As of July 29, 2008)
  • All-Time: 15,658

Club system

Television and radio

Matches are televised locally by WPWR Channel 50. Fred Huebner and Chris Doran comprise the announcing team, with Sarah Kustok and Amy Freeze alternating sideline reporting duties. Select matches are also nationally broadcasted on either Telefutera, ESPN, HDNET, or Fox Soccer Channel.

On radio, the Fire have all matches broadcast in Spanish by "La Tremenda" WRTO-AM; Oscar Guzman, Adrian Camacho and Enrique Fernandez handle the announcers duties. All matches are also broadcast in Polish by WNVR with Jacek Zielinski doing the announcing and Leszek Dorosz on commentary.

Radio Show

A weekly radio show is produced during the season at 6:00 PM every Tuesday on WXAV 88.3 FM. The show, "Chicago Fire Soccer Weekly", is broadcast on the campus of Saint Xavier University in Chicago. Hosts include WXAV Program Director Angelo Bonadonna, Promotions Director Kevin Kellam, and Sports Director Terry Bonadonna.

References

External links

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