How many men and women play football? Officially there are about 250 million registered players, that is people who have a licence from an institutional federation. The number of licensees had a spectacular rise during the last century: one million in 1920, 50 million in 1974, 100 million in 1980 and 250 million in 2000. But of course, does anyone need a licence to knock a ball about? Of course not, and one could extrapolate that the actual number of football players, regular or occasional, to be a billion.
Philippe Villemus Le Dieu Football (The Football God) (Ed. Eyrolles 2006)
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