The terms street football and (in the United States and Canada) street soccer encompass a number of informal varieties of association football. These informal pick up games do not necessarily follow the requirements of a formal game of football, such as a large field, field markings, goal apparatus and corner flags, eleven players per team, or match officials (referee and assistant referees). Many top players have learned to play football on the street, including the likes of Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Pelé, Giuseppe Meazza, Éamon Dunphy, Eusebio, and Cristiano Ronaldo, among others.
Street football is more similar to beach football and futsal than to association football. Often the most basic of set-ups will involve just a ball with a wall or fence used as a goal, or items such as clothing being used for goalposts (hence the phrase "jumpers for goalposts"). The phrase was used by Ed Sheeran in his 2015 documentary Jumpers for Goalposts: Live at Wembley Stadium as a nod to playing the concerts at Wembley Stadium, the "home of football."
In some cases, a standard ball is not available and street football depends on a ball made out of garbage, such as discarded plastic. Handwalla Bwana, describing street football in the Kakuma refugee camp said "We used to make a garbage ball. We used to go through the garbage cans and make as much soccer ball as we could" and attributed use of the garbage ball to being better with his feet. Johan Cruyff has said "Footballers from the street are more important than trained coaches."
The ease of playing these informal games on the streets and open spaces make football the most popular sport in the world.
Street football is particularly popular in the United Kingdom, where games such as Headers and Volleys and Wembley Singles are popular throughout.
Currently several common street football organisations exist (Streetfootballworld, SISM Street Soccer in the United States, The International Street Soccer Association, WhizzKids United, Buntkicktgut, Street Soccer USA). Nowadays, street football is also one method for coaching young football players and is realized with freestyle football, which has grown in popularity since the early 2000s when Nike began to focus on street football and freestyle via their TV ads.
The first Street Football World Championship took place in the Mariannenplatz in Berlin-Kreuzberg. The World Street 3s, the first international World Street Soccer Championships took place in Manchester on 25 September 2016.
The United States held their first international tournament in 2014. The American Panna & Freestyle Tournament hosted by SISM Street Soccer took place in San Jose, California. The inaugural event consisted of freestyle football, street soccer and panna. The event drew many top professionals from around the world to judge and compete in the Bay Area.
In 2005, video game publisher Electronic Arts introduced FIFA Street, a franchise based on street football and freestyle football. FIFA Street series focuses on flair, style and trickery, reflecting the cultures of street football and freestyle football played in streets and backlots across the world.
In 2019, Electronic Arts added a Volta gameplay mode to FIFA 20. It shares similarities to the FIFA Street series and has a storyline of a street football player playing through the ranks, both making new friends and losing old ones along the way.
Soccer is the undisputed # 1 game in the world and the primary way kids around the world developed their ball skills was through “street soccer”. World-class players came out of this environment.