Football is undeniably the most popular game in the world. Though no definite answer exists as to when and where football started and who invented the game, most scholars agree that the game has been played for over three thousand years. This favorite game has a rich history. Modern football can be traced to England.
Though a primitive version of the game can be traced in medieval and ancient days, it’s in the mid-19th century when soccer became an organized game in Britain particularly in 1863. But before we look at football in England, let us examine the game in the ancient days.
The Early History of Football
The earliest team game that involved a ball was in ancient Mesoamerican cultures in over 3000 years back. The ball was made from rocks. It was a sign of the sun and captain of the team that lost the game would be offered as a sacrifice to the gods.
Ancient China is credited as the mother of football during the Han Dynasty(206BC-AD220). During this time a game referred to as cuju (kick-ball) was played in China.
FIFA acknowledges cuju as the first game similar to football that ever existed based on scientific evidence. The game involved pieces of silk at either end of a pitch were fixed to bamboo sticks. Players would kick a leather ball packed with fur or feather into the silk just as the ball is scored onto the net today.
A similar version of the game referred to as Marn Grook was played in ancient Australia.This game was played for thousands of years until the 19th century. Marn Grook was played at the same time as Cuju. These two games cuju and Marn Grook did not extend beyond the borders of the mother countries.
The Greek sand the Romans had similar games that included handling of the ball, comparing them to rugby.
Rugby and football have had similar developments throughout history. FIFA acknowledges that these ancient forms of ball games were the first forms of soccer.
In Greece, a game that was known as Episkyros that was played as early as 2000BC is believed to have been similar to football. The roman also had their form of the game by the name Harpastum. It was a game of trickery, necessitating passing the skill fully to deceive the opposition.
Britain, the Mother of Modern Football
Britain is regarded as the epicenter of modern football. When the Romans invaded Britain and colonized British tribes, they brought along Harpastum. After the Romans left, in around the 5th century the game became better.
Ancient football was unorganized, had no restrictions on the conduct or the number of players in the pitch. An entire village would occupy the pitch. The game in those days was ‘mob football.’ It was chaotic and disorganized.
The primary link between ancient football and modern football was the kicking of the ball. Mob football was played by ordinary British; the upper class of Italians had a similar game named Calcio.
The Italian game relied on the use of hands. Calciois a direct translation of football in Italian. Football began to develop in Britain’s private educational centers backed by the aristocracy, and a clear separation between rugby and football started to emerge. The official structure of football became evident in 1863.
It took many years to develop football to what it is today. In anxiety days there was no distinction between rugby and football. Besides, the game varied on the length of the match, size of the ball and the number of players in the pitch.
Two schools in Britain were involved in the distinction of football from rugby. The two schools were Rugby and Eton. The rules of the games in these schools were different.
At Rugby school, the game involved more of handling the ball than kicking and this was the origin of modern day rugby. At Eton school, the game was solely played by feet, and this can be regarded as the mother of contemporary football.
In an effort to come up with clear rules for football, a meeting was convened in Cambridge in 1848, though a final consensus to some rules was not reached.
Another important event in the history of soccer was in 1863 in London at the formation of the first ever Football association. They agreed that the ball was to be only played by feet.
The meeting further developed standards for the size and weight of the ball was to be used for football matches. This London meeting came up with two associations; the football and rugby associations to create clear-cut measures on the distinction between the two games.
The development of football was still in its initial stages, and there was flexibility concerning the rules of the game. The number of players in the game used to vary from time to time.
At this time uniforms were not available to differentiate the teams in the match. Mostly the players would put on caps to distinguish them from their opponents.
Another significant difference in the early modern football was how English and Scottish teams played the game.
British teams preferred running forward with the ball similar to rugby while the Scottish teams played by passing the ball among their players. With time, the Scottish model of playing the game was adopted.
Initially, the sport was viewed as entertainment for the working class in Britain. By the late 19 century, football matches would attract a massive number of spectators of up to 30,000 fans.
The game would later be exported to other nations by British citizens who traveled to different parts of the world. India and South American are among the first regions where the game attracted huge follower ship.
The Emergence of Football Clubs
As early as in the 15th century, unorganized football clubs existed. Though it isn’t clear the first official football club in history, football historians regard a football club that was formed in 1824 in Edinburg as the first.
Former school students mainly created these early football clubs as the case of a football club that was established in Sheffield in 1855. Nott’s County football club is recovered as the first professional football club to be formed. It was started in 1862 and still exists to date.
Industrialization was significant in the formation of football teams. People meeting in factories, churches, and pubs formed football clubs.
The development of cities and towns was also crucial in the creation of football teams. Construction of new railroads was also significant in the establishment of football clubs. The railways were used to ferry both players and fans form one city to another.
In the initial days of modern football public school teams dominated the scenes, but later teams comprising factory workers took over. The willingness of teams to pay the most excellent players to join they spearheaded the development of professional football.
Paying players was an initiative to motivate the payers to win more game in the beginning. Later in the 1880s teams began selling tickets to fans to watch the games.
In 1885 professional football became legal and in three years the Football League was formed. In the first season, 12 teams became part of the league, and later more clubs joined the league leading to the formation of several divisions.
The early years of the league were dominated by British teams, after a few decades’ teams from Budapest, Prague and Sienna took up the dominance of the British league.
Football was regarded as a men’s only sport until the late 19th century when women were allowed to play the game.
The Beginning of Football Competitions
The development of professional football led to the start of football official football competitions. Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) was the first significant football completion to be held in 1871.
In the Subsequent year (1872) a match between England and Scotland national teams was played and ended in a draw (0-0). This match is recovered as the first-ever match between national teams.
In 1883, the first international football tournament was initiated. This tournament involved four national teams namely: Scotland, England, Ireland, and Wales.
Initially, football was a British affair, but with time it gained acceptance in other European nations. The first football match outside the European territory was in 1867 in Argentina. It was between British workers in Argentina and the locals.
Fédération Internationale de Football Association also denoted as FIFA came into been in 1904. Delegates from Belgium, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain Signed the foundation act. At this moment England and other British nations did not sign the pact.
Since they were the founders of the game, they viewed the formation of an association as a means of degrading the game. Later in the following year, they joined FIFA but never participated in the World cup until 1950.
National leagues were formed in many countries. The English Football League was the first to be established in 1888. This league was later developed into several divisions to include more teams. Teams graduated to higher divisions based on their performance.
Football became part of the Olympic Games in 1908. Until 1903 when the first FIFA World Cup was played, the Olympic Games football tournament was regarded as the most significant football tournament in the world. Al this year’s women football was disregarded, and it was only included in the games in 1996.
The Inclusion of Black Players
Compared to other games like tennis, including black players in football teams started earlier, though white males have dominated the scenes for years.
Andrew Watson is recorded as the first black man to be included in a British team. He was a player in Queens Park a Scottish team in the 1880s.
Football’s Massive Followership
Over the years football has been the number one sport all over the world. It attracts both genders including children. The game has been watched in both the football parks and the television.
Goodison Park was one of the first football pitches to be constructed. It was built in the late 19th century for the primary goal of hosting football matches. 37,000 fans attended the FA Cup finals between Bolton Wanderers and Nott’s County.
Another significant development in the construction of football grounds was the Maracaná Stadium. Football is the only game that has recorded the huge construction stadiums to accommodate its fans. In 1950 a stadium was constructed in Rio de Janeiro with a capacity of 200,000 fans.
Over the years, there have been two fan cultures: The South American and British. The British fans were characterized by singing mainly working and pub songs.
On the contrary, South American fans exhibited the carnival style which features fireworks and firecrackers, today Bengali fires. Fans from different nations have embraced a mix of both beside to other ways of celebrating and cheering their teams.
The Champions League
The Champions League is the largest international tournament for Clubs. It has been in existence since 1992. Initially, it was referred to as the European Cup from 1955-1991.
The Spread of Football
In the late 19th century the number of national teams was very few. Only England and Scotland were active national teams in the early days. In the present FIFA have 211 national associations.
Another proof that football has moved to the nations is the increase in the number of national teams participating in World Cup qualifiers form 32 in 1984 to more than 200 teams today.
World Football Confederations
FIFA has divided the world football into six confederations:
- Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF)
- Union des Associations Européenes de Football (UEFA)
- Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
- Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL)
- Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)
- The Confederation of North, Central America & Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF)
Soccer or Football
The word soccer is believed to have had its roots in Britain where it was used separate association football and rugby football. In Britain the word soccer isn’t used regularly, most people use football.
In common speech, most people use the words interchangeably. American and Canadians use the word soccer to create a distinction from American football. In many regions of the world, football is the name used to refer to this great sport with massive fans all over.
Football has a long history: it was over 3,000 years ago. Over the years it has developed to include a set of rules and organized team of players and specific match time lines.
The world football governing body (FIFA) is charged with regulation of all matters of football both at national and international arenas. As the sport that attracts the most significant follower-ship across the globe, football will continue to evolve and maintain its places as the sport of the masses.