Soccer Facts

See the fact file below for more information on Soccer or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.

The Beginning of the Sport

  • The very earliest form of the game with scientific evidence was an exercise from a military manual in China dating back to 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.
  • The Han Dynasty ancestor of a football was called Ts’u Chu. It was a leather ball measuring 30-40cm in diameter filled with feathers and hair.
  • In Japan, a similar form of this game, called kemari, began about 500-600 years after the creation of Ts’u Chu, followed by chuk-guk in Korea and woggabaliri in Australia.
  • The Greek episkyros and the Roman harpastum was later played with a smaller ball by two teams on a rectangular field marked by boundary lines and a centreline. The objective was to get the ball over the opposition’s territory.

Prelude to Global Popularity

  • As early 1314, soccer grew in popularity in Europe, however authorities issued proclamations forbidding the sport within the city due to the chaos it usually caused.
  • In 1365, King Edward III of England actually made the game punishable by law because it distracted soldiers from practising more useful military disciplines, particularly archery. The ban lasted almost 500 years.
  • Although soccer was popular from the 8th to the 19th century, it was disorganised, violent, more spontaneous and was usually played by an indefinite number of players.
  • It was nine years after the rules of soccer were first established in 1863 that the size and weight of the soccer ball was finally standardised.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, school soccer became the custom, particularly in the famous public schools. But the rules were still relatively free and easy, with no standard form of the game.
  • Handling the ball was initially allowed, but on 8 December 1863, soccer finally disallowed it. The game that adapted ball-handling became the official sport of rugby.
  • It was in the same year that the Football Association was formed.

Worldwide Membership

  • The world’s oldest football/soccer competition is the FA Cup, which was founded by C.W. Alcock and has been contested by English teams since 1872.
  • The first official international match took place in 1872 in Glasgow, between Scotland and England.
  • England is also home to the world’s first football/soccer league, which was founded in Birmingham in 1888 by
  • Aston Villa director William McGregor. The original format contained 12 clubs from the Midlands and Northern England.
  • When FIFA was founded in Paris in May 1904, it had seven founder members: France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • By 1925, the number had increased to 36, while in 1930 – the year of the first World Cup – it was 41.
  • Over the next half-century, football’s popularity continued to attract new devotees and at the end of the 2007 FIFA Congress, FIFA had 208 members in every part of the world.

Women and Soccer

  • While soccer was played in many countries, women in London were banned from playing the game in 1921. It lasted for 50 years.
  • By contrast, Italy and France established women’s leagues in early 1930s.
  • The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta initiated women’s soccer as an Olympic event.
  • The first Women’s World Cup was held in China from 16-30 November, 1991. It was pursued by Dr. Hao Joao Havelange, the president of FIFA.
  • At that tournament, the U.S. team won, beating Norway 2-1 in the finals. The U.S. later won the third Women’s World Cup in 1999, beating China in a shootout. That tournament was held in the United States.
  • Currently, it is played at the professional level in numerous countries throughout the world and 176 national teams participate internationally.
  • Twice the FIFA World Player of the Year, Mia Hamm led the United States to FIFA World Cup titles in 1991 and 1999 and Olympic gold in 1996 and 2004.

Surprising facts about soccer

Almost 300 million people around the world play soccer, and the amount of people that watch the sport is equally staggering. It is the most popular sport in the world and is the national sport of over 60 different nations. It can be traced back over 20 centuries and had many various forms before The Football Association penned the first official rules in 1863. Hundreds of years, and 20 World Cups later, soccer has racked up some interesting trivia throughout its extensive history. You can read some of them below.

1. Nooit opgeven altijd doorgaan, Aangenaam door vermaak en nuttig door ontspanning, Combinatie Breda is the longest football club name in the entire sport; the Netherlands-based team is commonly referred to just as NAC Breda.

2. Robbie Keane is the Republic of Ireland national football team’s top scorer in history, scoring 68 goals in 146 games; the player just behind him in the ranking is Niall Quinn who has only 21 goals in 91 games.

3. Arthur Friedenreich scored an astounding 1,329 goals over his 26 years playing for Brazil making him the top scoring footballer in world history.

4. Despite being more popular in other parts of the world, soccer is still watched by more people in the United States than Hockey and Car Racing.

5. Gareth Bale is the most expensive soccer player in history, beating out Cristiano Ronaldo in 2013 when he was traded from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid for €100 Million; that is equivalent to $116,865,500.

6. The word soccer originated in Britain as a nickname for Association Football; it was later adopted by the United States to differentiate from American Football.

7. The 2014 world cup was held in Brazil, where you are not allowed to consume alcoholic beverages during soccer games; FIFA successfully urged them to rescind this rule because Budweiser was a sponsor of the cup.

8. Soccer as we know it may have originated in England, but the game can be traced back over 2,000 years to China.

9. The spherical shape of a soccer ball is an optical illusion created by the pattern; they are slightly oval.

10. In 1953, iconic James Bond actor Sean Connery was offered a contract to play for Manchester United.

11. Players run between six and ten miles over the course of one game, which is the most out of any other sport.

Fun facts about soccer you may not know

Soccer is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a ball and is known as football in most countries outside of Australia and the United States. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries, making it the world’s most popular sport.

  1. No one knows exactly when soccer was created, but the earliest versions of the game can be traced back 3,000 years.
  2. Soccer is the most popular game in the world. In many countries it is known as “football”.
  3. In England, soccer was formed when several clubs formed the Football Association about 150 years ago.
  4. Women started playing soccer around the same time as men did in England. However, originally men were the main players in the game. Women’s soccer started to become extremely popular in the 1990s.
  5. In China, the first soccer balls were made from sewn clothing that was filled with rubble. In Europe during the Middle Ages, soccer balls were made from inflated pig bladders.
  6. Today most of the balls are made from layers of synthetic leather while the bladders inside the ball are made from latex or butyl.
  7. Some of the different shots in soccer are:
  8. The instep drive or knuckle shot
  9. The swerve shot
  10. The full volley
  11. The half volley
  12. The side volley
  13. The flying volley
  14. The maximum number of players on a soccer team is 11. The different positions are:
  15. Goalkeeper
  16. Centre-back
  17. Sweeper
  18. Fullback
  19. Wingback
  20. Centre-midfielder
  21. Defensive midfielder
  22. Attacking midfielder
  23. Winger
  24. Forward
  25. Striker
  27. Soccer is played on a grassy field called a pitch. The field is rectangular and must be between 100 and 130 yards long and 50 to 100 yards wide.
  28. An international soccer game is 90 minutes long. The 90 minutes is divided in two 45 minute halves.