Football history

The history of football (soccer)

Football (or soccer as the game is called in some parts of the world) has a long history. Football in its current form arose in England in the middle of the 19th century. But alternative versions of the game existed much earlier and are a part of the football history.

Early history and the precursors of football

The first known examples of a team game involving a ball, which was made out of a rock, occurred in old Mesoamerican cultures for over 3,000 years ago. According to the sources, the ball would symbolize the sun and the captain of the losing team would be sacrificed to the gods. 

The first known ball game which also involved kicking took place In China in the 3rd and 2nd century BC under the name Cuju. Cuju was played with a round ball on an area of a square. It later spread to Japan and was practiced under ceremonial forms.

Other earlier variety of ball games had been known from Ancient Greece. The ball was made by shreds of leather filled with hair. The first documents of balls filled with air are from the 7th century. In the Ancient Rome, games with balls were not included in the entertainment on the big arenas, but could occur in exercises in the military. It was the Roman culture that would bring football to the British island (Britannica). It is, however, uncertain in which degree the British people were influenced by this variability and in which degree they had developed their own variants.

The game of football takes its form

The most admitted story tells that the game was developed in England in the 12th century. In this century games that resembled football were played on meadows and roads in England. Besides from kicks, the game involved also punches of the ball with the fist. This early form of football was also much more rough and more violent than the modern way of playing. An important feature of the forerunners to football was that the games involved plenty of people and took place over large areas in towns (an equivalent was played in Florence from the 16th century where it was called Calcio). The rampage of these games would cause damage on the town and sometimes death. These would be among the reasons for the proclamations against the game that finally was forbidden for several centuries. But the football-like games would appear again in the streets of London in the 17th century. It would be forbidden gain in 1835, but at this stage the game had been established in the public schools.

It took, however, long time until the features of today’s football had been taken into practice. For a long time there was no clear distinction between football and rugby. There were also many variations concerning the size of the ball, the number of players and the length of a match.

The game was often played in schools and two of the predominant schools were Rugby and Eton. At Rugby the rules included the possibility to take up the ball with the hands and the game we today know as rugby has its origin from here. At Eton on the other hand the ball was played exclusively with the feet and this game can be seen as a close predecessor to the modern football. The game in Rugby was called “the running game” while the game in Eton was called “the dribbling game”.

An attempt to create proper rules for the game was done at a meeting in Cambridge in 1848, but a final solution to some questions of rules was not achieved. Another important event in the history of football come about in 1863 in London when the first Football association was formed in England. It was decided that carrying the ball with the hands wasn’t allowed. The meeting also resulted in a standardization of the size and weight of the ball. A consequence of the London meeting was that the game was divided into two codes: association football and rugby.

The game would, however continue to develop for a long time and there was still much flexibility concerning the rules. For one thing, the number of players on the pitch could vary. Neither were uniforms used to distinguish the appearance of the teams. It was also common with players wearing caps – the header was yet to be a part of the game yet. Further reading: The development of football rules.

Another important difference at this stage could be noticed between English and Scottish teams. Whereas the English teams preferred to run forward with the ball in a more rugby fashion, the Scottish chose to pass the ball between their players. It would be the Scottish approach that soon became predominant. 

The sport was at first an entertainment for the British working class. Unprecedented amounts of spectators, up to 30,000, would see big matches in the late 19th century. The game would soon expand by British peoples that traveled to other parts of the world. Especially in South America and India the interest in football would become big.

The first football clubs

Football clubs have existed since the 15th century, but unorganized and without official status. It is therefore hard to decide which the first football club was. Some historians suggest that it was the Foot-Ball Club formed 1824 in Edinburgh. Earlier clubs were often formed by former school students and the first of this kind was formed in Sheffield in 1855. The oldest among professional football clubs is the English club Notts County that was formed in 1862 and still exists today. 

An important step for the emergence of teams was the industrialization that led to larger groups of people meeting at places such as factories, pubs and churches. Football teams were established in the larger cities and the new railroads could bring them to other cities. 

In the beginning, football was dominated by public school teams, but later, teams consisting by workers would make up the majority of those. Another change was successively taking place when some clubs became willing to pay the best players to join their team. This would be the start of a long period of transition, not without friction, in which the game would develop to a professional level. 

The motivation behind paying players was not only to win more matches, but in the 1880s the interest in the game has moved ahead to a level that tickets were sold to the matches. And finally, in 1885 professional football was legalized and three years later the Football League was established. During the first season, 12 clubs joined the league, but soon more clubs became interested and the competition would consequently expand into more divisions.

For a long time, the British teams would be dominant. After some decades, clubs from Prague, Budapest and Sienna would be the primarily contenders to the British dominance.

As with many things in history, women were for a long time excluded from participating in games. It was not before the late 19th century that women started to play football.

The first competitions

Other milestones were now to follow. Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) became the first important competition when it was run in 1871. The following year a match between two national teams was played for the first time. The match that involved England and Scotland ended 0-0 and was followed by 4,000 people at Hamilton Crescent (the picture shows illustrations from this occasion).

Twelve years later, in 1883, the first international tournament took place and included four national teams: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Football was for a long time a British phenomenon, but gradually spread to other European countries. The first game that took place outside Europe occurred in Argentina in 1867, but it was foreign British workers who were involved and not Argentinean citizens.

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in 1904 and a foundation act was signed by representatives from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. England and the other British countries did not join FIFA from the start, they had invented the game and saw no reason to subordinate to an association. Still, they joined in the following year, but would not partake in the World cup until 1950.

Domestic leagues occurred in many countries, the first was the English Football League which was established in 1888. The leagues would by time expand by more divisions, which were based on team performance.

In 1908 would football for the first time be included as an official sport in the Olympic Games. Until the first FIFA World Cup was played in 1930, the Olympic Games football tournament would rank as the most prestigious. Women’s football was not added until 1996.

Black players

As in many other sports the white male was predominant for a long time. In football black players started being present relatively early and in comparison with, for example, tennis, football has traditionally been known as a sport with a mix of black and white players.

In Britain Andrew Watson is known to be the first black player, and he played in the Scottish club Queen’s Park in the 1880s.

A game of passion

Few other sports show examples of passion to that extent as football. The arenas are flocked by shearing people; and in front of television even more are watching carefully and sometimes with great enthusiasm.

Already in the late 19th century Goodison Park was built in England in purpose of hosting football games. In 1894, the FA Cup final between Notts County and Bolton Wanderers was attended by 37,000 people. A milestone in football stadiums is the construction of Maracanã Stadium. In the year of 1950 the imposing stadium in Rio de Janeiro was ready for almost 200,000 people. No other sport has seen stadiums of that capacity built to host its games.

There have been two different traditions of fan culture on the arenas: the British and the South American. The British fans adopted the tradition of singing, the repertoire were inspirited from pub and working songs among other areas. The South Americans on the other hand would adopt the carnival style which include firecrackers and fireworks, and also the modern phenomena of Bengali fires. Fans in other countries have later adopted a mixture of these traditions.

The great modern competitions

No other sport event besides the Olympic Games can today measure itself with the FIFA World Cup. The first edition of the FIFA World Cup was played in 1930 in Uruguay and has since then returned every fourth year (with two exceptions due to the Second World War). In 1991 the first World Cup for women was held in China and has since then also returned every fourth year.

Today the biggest global tournament for clubs is the Champions League (played since 1992), the former European Cup (1955–1991).

Globalization of the biggest sport in the world

In the late 19th century, only a few national football teams existed; England and Scotland had the first active teams that played games against each other in the 1870s. Today there are 211 national associations included in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the world governing body of the sport. Another proof of the globalization could be seen in the increase of nations participating in World Cup qualifiers: from 32 in 1934 to over 200 in 2014.

The world regions have been divided into six confederations: Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF), Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA), The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL).

The name of the game: football or soccer?

In most parts of the world, football is used as the name for the “chess of the green pitch”, the biggest sport in the world. In the United States and Canada, however, soccer is used instead as a distinction from American football. A more formal name sometimes used is association football, but in popular speech, it is either football or soccer.

History of Soccer

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Europe and the Americas. It has a vivid and interesting history in the world of sports. Early evidence of soccer being played as a sport finds occurrence in China during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. In China, it was during the Han dynasty that people dribbled leather balls by kicking it into a small net. Recorded facts also support the fact that Romans and Greeks used to play ball for fun and frolic. Some facts point to Kyoto in Japan where kicking of ball was a popular sport.

It is said that early growth of the modern soccer started in England. Some amusing facts even mention that the first ball used was the head of some Danish brigand. It is said that during medieval times, the old form of soccer used to allow many ill practices like kicking, punching, biting and gouging. The main aim was to carry the ball to a target spot. People grew so fond of the game that they would throng the field all day long. Sometimes the competition grew fierce and masses got so wild that there were frequent incidents of violence during the game. It is also said that soldiers admired the game so much that they missed archery practice to watch it.

King Edward III banned soccer in 1365 owing to the growing incidents of violence and military indulgence in the sport. In 1424 King James I of Scotland also proclaimed in the Parliament— “Na man play at the Fute-ball” (No man shall play football).

When and where exactly did soccer start is a question that has no precise answer to it. You can easily say that this popular game has been played for more than three thousand years. The nativity of modern-day soccer must be credited to Britain. It was also known as the association football, with Scotland and England being the co-founders of the systematic game of soccer.

Modern History of Soccer: 18th Century Onward

In 1815, a major development took place that made soccer popular in Universities, Colleges and Schools. The popular English School and Eton College came forth with a set of rules, known as the Cambridge Rules. Football was segregated into two groups; some colleges and schools opted for Rugby rules that allowed tripping, shin kicking and also carrying the ball. These rules were exclusively prohibited as per the Cambridge rules.

King Edward III banned soccer in 1365, owing to the growing incidents of violence and military indulgence in the sport.

The history of modern-day soccer was established in 1863. In October 1863, eleven representatives from London clubs and schools met at the Freemason’s Tavern to set up common fundamental rules to control the matches amongst themselves. The outcome of this meeting was the formation of the Football Association. In December 1863, the Rugby Football and Association football finally split as the supporters of the Rugby School rules walked out.

Firmly establishing the foundation of soccer in 1869, the Football Association strictly banned any kind of handling of the ball. Soccer’s popularity spread rapidly during the 1800s as British sailors, traders and soldiers introduced the sport to different parts of the globe.

TItalians, Austrians and Germans drew to Europe, while Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil adopted the sport in South America. FIFA was established in the year 1904 and by early 1930s, different leagues were operating from various countries. FIFA is credited with organizing the first world cup in Uruguay. The history of soccer is rich with events, development and its growing craze all over the world. You will find yourself amazed as you learn about different times of this wonderful sport that has held our awe and admiration for over 3000 years.

The History Of Soccer

More than 240 million people around the world play soccer regularly according to the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The game has evolved from the sport of kicking a rudimentary animal-hide ball around into the World Cup sport it is today.

Records trace the history of soccer back more than 2,000 years ago to ancient China. Greece, Rome, and parts of Central America also claim to have started the sport; but it was England that transitioned soccer, or what the British and many other people around the world call “football,” into the game we know today. The English are credited with recording the first uniform rules for the sport, including forbidding tripping opponents and touching the ball with hands.

As the sport developed, more rules were implemented and more historical landmarks were set. For example, the penalty kick was introduced in 1891. FIFA became a member of the International Football Association Board of Great Britain in 1913. Red and yellow cards were introduced during the 1970 World Cup finals. More recent major changes include goalkeepers being banned from handling deliberate back passes in 1992 and tackles from behind becoming red-card penalties in 1998.

Some of the top players throughout history include Pele (Edson Arantes Do Nascimento) from Brazil, who scored six goals in the 1958 World Cup and helped Brazil claim its first title; Lev Yashin from Russia, who claimed to have saved more than 150 penalty shots during his outstanding goal-tending career; and Marco Van Basten from Holland, who won several very prestigious soccer awards during one year alone. There are many debates over who the greatest soccer players are of all time; but players like Zinedine Zidane, Diego Maradona, Michel Platini, Lionel Messi, and Roberto Baggio make almost every list.