ESPN Kids Writer Mailbag Week of 6/8

Q: How many players can be on the field at once in soccer? Paige from Hawaii
A: Paige, each team fields 11 players at one time in a soccer game. In addition to the goalie, there are 10 position players on the field. Lineups change depending on the coach and the skills of the players, but typically there are three forwards, four midfielders and three defenders.

Q: How often is the World Cup and when did it start? Tina from Louisiana
A: Tina, the World Cup was first played in 1930 in Uruguay, a country in South America. Uruguay was also the first World Cup winner. The tournament is played every four years, although there was no World Cup in 1942 and 1946 because of World War II. In the two years prior to each World Cup, there are qualifying events to see which teams will get to play in the World Cup.

Q: What happens in soccer if a player who is not the goalie touches the ball with his hands? Scott from Wyoming
A: Scott, if a position player (not the goalie) touches the ball with his or her hands, the referee will call a "hand ball." When this happens, the other team gets a free kick. If players touch the ball on purpose, they might get a yellow card, or a warning. If position players use their hands to prevent a goal, the referee will give them a red card, meaning they have to leave the game.

Q: Where was soccer invented? Kelly from Missouri
A: Kelly, this is a very difficult question to answer. Scientists have suggested that more than 2,000 years ago, people in China were playing games in which they kicked balls with their feet. There is also evidence that the ancient Greeks and Romans played a version of the sport, and that it was very popular in Europe in the Middle Ages. The rules of organized soccer as we know them today came about around the mid-1800s, in England. Representatives from many different schools throughout the country came together and agreed upon a set of rules, which is believed to be one of the first instances of organized soccer.

Q: In soccer, what is "the pitch"? Rob from Michigan
A: Rob, the pitch in soccer is the same as the field. In America, we call the playing surface a field, but in Europe and other areas of the world it is called the pitch.

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