What is the history of soccer? What are its origins? Where did soccer come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of soccer.
Soccer is played by 11 players per team, with each side having 10 field players and one goalkeeper on the field at once. Each team works together to put the ball in the other team's goal. Each team only gets three substitutions per match, unless the contest goes to extra time. In professional competitions, two 45-minute halves are played. Time is added by the referee at the end of each half to account for injuries and stoppages.
The most basic principle of soccer is that the game is played without the use of arms or hands. Only goalkeepers may touch the ball with their hands, and only when inside their own 18-yard box.
Another important rule involves the ball going out of play; in soccer, the entire ball must cross the entire line to be considered past it. This holds true for both the touchline (sideline) and goal line.
The most basic forms of soccer in recorded history first appeared in the Far East around 200-100 B.C., during the Chinese Han Dynasty. This game, known as Tsu' Chu, included the most basic elements of present-day soccer, such as kicking a ball into a goal. The ancient Japanese "Kemari" also resembles soccer as players use their feet to play the ball, but this game is non-competitive and is more comparable to hacky sack than soccer. Kemari is still played in Japan ritualistically.
Organized soccer in the modern era was born in England. Many variations of soccer existed at English public schools, and in the mid-19th century deliberations began about the rules and organization of "football." This led to the formation of the Football Association, or "FA," in 1863. The FA was the first governing body of soccer and the FA Cup is the oldest competition, having existed since 1872. The first league of soccer teams was also born in England in 1888.
No one single person can be credited with the invention of soccer, as it was invented at English schools in the early 18th century. The Football Association, founded in 1863, is often considered to be the official beginning of organized soccer as we know it today. The FA held meetings to standardize the rules of "football," which at the time included a variety of gameplays from soccer to rugby. One of the FA's accepted rules banned carrying the ball and tripping players, which led to the splintering of rugby and soccer.
Ebenezer Cobb Morley is often credited with the invention of soccer. He led the creation of the FA after writing a letter to a newspaper outlining the need for a governing body in the sport. Morley was the FA's first secretary and led the establishment of the first rules, but is not the sole inventor of the sport.
After being played in England's public schools for the better part of the 19th century, soccer was first officially established in 1863 with the creation of the FA. The first official competition, the FA Cup, was first played in 1872, as was the first official international match, which was held between Scotland and England. The first league was established in 1888. The International Football Association Board (IFAB), which is in charge of the laws of the game, was formed in 1886. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) was created in 1904 and joined the IFAB in 1913. The first World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay.
Women were participants in soccer for as long as men. The first organized women's match was held in 1892. The women's game grew in popularity until 1921, when the FA effectively banned women from competing for almost 50 years. The FA later apologized for this ban in 2008. Women's soccer has grown once again, with the FIFA Women's World Cup beginning play in 1991.
Britain's worldwide empire helped spread the game as early as the 1800s. European countries were the first to catch on, but the popularity of the game was so strong that a World Cup tournament of 13 nations was held in 1930. However, only Belgium, France, Romania, and Yugoslavia participated from Europe. Soccer has steadily grown in popularity since its inception, but is still rapidly growing in countries like the United States.
Every country in the world plays some form of soccer. FIFA currently includes 211 member associations from different nations, some of which are not even in the United Nations. According to FIFA, these are the top five nations with the most registered soccer players:
Other countries where soccer is extremely popular include:
Predecessors of soccer have existed for thousands of years, most notably in Ancient China, Greece, and Rome. Forms of the game also existed in Japan, Egypt, and the Americas.
In the 700s AD, British townspeople began kicking around the severed head of a defeated enemy in a violent game. This sport was banned by King Edward III of England in 1331, King James I of Scotland in 1424, and Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1572; but soccer was made legal again in 1605 once it was exclusively played with pig bladders or leather balls.
Soccer began to emerge in British schools in the mid-1700s and grew to need a written set of rules by 1815. The Football Association was created in 1863 and modern rules were established shortly after.
The game grew globally and the first men's World Cup was held in 1930, with the Women's World Cup following in 1991.