One of the most popular topics in our BritIt blog posts are about sport in the UK. We’ve brought you rugby insights , told you about the Wimbledon Tennis championship, and the strange phenomena of cricket too! We have also previously blogged about football and the FA Cup. That post raised lots of questions from you, our BritIt readers so we decided as it’s May again (time flies quickly, doesn’t it!) to bring you additional FA insights.
The Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup for short) is the oldest football competition in the world. The first ever FA Cup was held in the 1871-1872 season and it has been held every year since, except for the years during both World Wars.
Since 1923 the FA Cup Final has been played at Wembley Stadium in London but was moved to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales between the years 2001 and 2006 while Wembley Stadium was being redeveloped.
The FA Cup is a knockout competition with teams selected randomly in a ‚draw’. This ‚draw’ is often shown live on television and decides which team plays at their home ground and which team plays away.
The competition starts in August when the non-league and amateur teams enter the draw. The big professional teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool don’t enter the competition until the third round in January.
If the scores are level after 90 minutes, the match is replayed at a different stadium. If the score is still level after two games, the lottery of a penalty shoot-out decides which team progresses to the next round.
The semi-finals are always played at a neutral ground and the final is played at Wembley Stadium in May. Millions of British families watch the final and national newspapers and news reports cover every detail of the game for days afterwards. Posters and pictures of the winning captain lifting the cup inspire teenage footballers all over the country.
The romance of the Cup
People often say the FA Cup has a special quality and romance different to other sporting competitions. Over 700 teams take part, from the mega-rich superstars of Manchester United to the part-time teachers, mechanics and electricians that play in amateur teams. The romance of the Cup refers to when smaller teams beat the superstar professional teams from the Premier League. Surprise victories are both common and part of FA Cup history, and these small teams become known as ‚giantkillers’.
The most successful teams in FA Cup history are Manchester United , who has won the famous trophy 11 times, and Arsenal with 12 trophies. In recent years, however, Chelsea have dominated the competition, winning four times since 2007. But every year, fans of every team in the UK hope and dream that this will be their year to go to Wembley and win the most famous of cups.
This year the mighty Manchester United, who have actually had quite a mixed season, will be competing against fellow Premier League club Crystal Palace. The game will be televised in over 100 countries worldwide to an estimated audience of 480 million people.
Who will you be supporting?
The original version of this article appeared on LearnEnglishTeens where you can find lots of other interesting UK Cultural articles and activities to practice vocabulary and grammar. Premier Skills English is another great British Council resource for a football focus.