A football player or footballer is a sport person who plays one of the different types of football. The main types of football are association football, American football, Canadian football, Australian rules football, Gaelic football, rugby league and rugby union.
It has been estimated that there are 250 million association football players in the world, and many play the other forms of football.
Jean-Pierre Papin has described football as a "universal language". Footballers across the world and at almost any level may regularly attract large crowds of spectators, and players are the focal points of widespread social phenomena such as association football culture.
Footballers generally begin as amateurs and the best players progress to become professional players. Normally they start at a youth team (any local team) and from there, based on skill and talent, scouts offer contracts. Once signed, some learn to play better football and a few advance to the senior or professional teams.
Research shows that association football players that take less than 200ms after the referee blows their whistle for a penalty kick are significantly more likely to miss scoring than those that take over a second.
Wages in some top men's leagues are significantly higher than other jobs. Players in the Premier League earn average wages of about $1 million per year. In the wealthiest clubs in European football leagues, some players earn an average wage up to $6 to $8 million per year. The best players of those clubs can earn up to $70 million per year.
However, only a fraction of men's professional football players are paid at this level. Wages may be much more moderate in other divisions and leagues, and a significant number of players are semi-professional. For example, the average annual salary for footballers in Major League Soccer (which started in 2009) for the 2013 season was $148,693, with significant variations depending on player position (goalkeepers for example earned $85,296, whereas forwards earned $251,805).
Popularity and average salaries in women's leagues are far lower. For example, players in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) (which started in 2012) earn $15,000 to $40,000 per year as of January 2017.
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