Soccer, Football, Footie...Whatever the name,
the game's been the same worldwide since the 1800s. But the history of
soccer is anything but static. Did you know that the game was so violent that
it was outlawed by three kings and a queen? Read on for excerpts from an
exciting soccer history that dates back thousands of years.
The Ancient History of Soccer
From at least 2500 BC onward, men in ancient China
played a form of soccer called tsu-chu or cuju.
The object was to kick a ball into a goal between posts that were 30 feet high.
The game was traditionally played for the various Chinese emperors’ birthday
celebrations. Mention was also made of the sport in a Chinese military training
manual from the second and third centuries BC.
Pacific Islanders developed soccer-like games. They used
coconuts, large oranges and animal bladders as soccer balls.
A game like soccer was played
in the 600s in Kyoto. Kemari, which is reminiscent of both soccer and hackey
sacking, is still played in Japan today.
Ancient Rome and Greece
and Greeks trained their soldiers for war with a grueling game reminiscent of
Soccer in the Ancient Americas
A game sometimes called ulama
flourished across South America and Central America
before the arrival of European conquerors. Aztecs developed a five to eight
pound rubber ball for the game. Anthropologists believe that the game was seen
as a battle between a god and goddess. The Aztecs were also known to gamble
heavily on the games.
The Mayans also played a type
of soccer game. Ancient courts measuring up to 459 feet by 114 feet have been found. This game had
religious significance and sometimes involved human sacrifices.
Here’s a video of the old
Mayan game being played in Mexico:
Soccer in Ancient England
Soccer wasn’t always known for
its athletes acting as if minor scrapes were life-threatening. The game used to
be brutal – so brutal that it was occasionally outlawed. King Edward, who
reigned in the early 1300s, especially detested the sport and made it illegal.
King Henry IV and Henry VIII also passed laws to prevent the violent
competition. Queen Elizabeth I ordered jail time and church penance to those
caught playing the game.
The Spread & Standardization of Soccer
The modern rules for
association football are based on standardization efforts from the mid-18th
century.It seems that the young blokes
playing at English schools had too many versions. Soccer had been played in London and various
English hamlets since at least the eighth century. Different versions had
plenty of time to develop.
The growing interest led to
the creation of the FA or Football Association in 1863. It was formed in a pub
and fell apart after a long series of meetings. The treasurer withdrew his club
from the FA in a disagreement over rules. For one thing, he wanted players to
be able to run with the soccer ball in hand. People who agreed with him
branched off to form the Rugby Football Union in 1871. The eleven clubs that
remained in the FA ratified the original 13 rules of soccer. It eventually
absorbed rules put forth earlier by the Sheffield Football Association.
Meanwhile, very similar rules
for soccer or football were being developed in Australia. Soccer spread throughout
the British Empire to eventually reach most
parts of the world
Today the laws of soccer are set by the International
Football Association Boardor IFAB. This board dates back to 1886. It was the outcome of a meeting
between the FA, the Irish Football Association, the Scottish Football
Association and the Football Association of Wales.
The use of yellow and
red cards was standardized in 1970.
The History of Soccer in the USA
Soccer quickly spread worldwide because of the power of
the British Empire. The first British colony
that’s known to have soccer is in America. Colonists played an
English version of soccer in Jamestown
Soccer was discouraged in many
North American communities because it was rather violent. It wasn’t until the
mid-1800s that it became distinguished from rugby, a game that allows for
plenty of aggression. It gained steam again in the early 1890's in Denver, Cincinnati,
Cleveland San Francisco and Los
You can read lots more about
the history of soccer in the US
at the Soccer for
The History of the FA Cup and Football Leagues
The oldest national football
competition is the FA Cup. The first
international football match also took place that year. England played Scotland
in Glasgow. C.
W. Alcock was an instrumental figure behind both of these accomplishments.
England is also home to the
world’s first modern football league. It was founded in Birmingham
in 1888 and included 12 clubs from northern and central England.
FIFA was formed in Paris in 1904. Its
founding members were France, Belgium,
Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands,
Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. FIFA adopted the rules of the
Football Association Board was established in 1913. The board
currently consists of four representatives from FIFA and one representative
from each of the British football associations (the FA, the Irish Football
Association, the Scottish Football Association and the Football Association of