Australian rules football

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Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football,[1] also informally known as football, Aussie rules or (colloquially) as footy[2] (and in some regions called—erroneously—AFL, after the Australian Football League, the only fully professional Australian rules football league) is a sport played between two teams of 22 players (18 on the field, and 4 interchanges) on either an Australian rules football ground or a modified cricket field.

The objective of the game is to score points by passing the ball through the opponent's goal. The main way to score points is by kicking the ball between the major goal posts. The team with the higher total score at the end of the match wins[3] unless either a draw is declared or a tie-break is used.[4]

During play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their body 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. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick is paid. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch a ball from a kick (with specific conditions), are awarded a free kick.[5] Australian rules is a contact sport, in which 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, depending on the seriousness of the infringement. Frequent physical contests, aerial marking or "speckies", fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring are the game's main attributes.

Details of the game's origins in Australia are obscure and still the subject of much debate. Australian football became organised in Melbourne in May 1859, when the first laws of the game were published by the Melbourne Football Club.[6]

Australian football is a major participation and spectator sport in Australia.[7][8] Australian football is also played at amateur level in several countries and in several variations.

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