I’ve always wondered who invented soccer, and how soccer really took off as the hit sports game it has become. After hours of research, my itch for soccer facts has been scratched. Here’s everything I’ve learned.
The first version of modern soccer was officially invented in England in the mid 19th century and was called football. However, there are records of an old Chinese game called Tsu-Chu (meaning “Kicking the ball”) played as far back as 206 B.C. thought to be played as a training exercise for soldiers.
Although the game was called ‘Kicking the ball’ I’ll let you decide for yourself if we can call it traditional soccer or not. The way soccer has evolved into what it is today is also very fascinating.
First Known Game Of Kicking A Ball
During the Han Dynasty (from 206 B.C to 220 A.D) a game called Tsu-Chu or Cuju was played as a military exercise. The game may have spread and been enjoyed by local citizens as well. FIFA has recognized the evidence that this is the first known form of Soccer.
Cuju is also played in other countries such as Vietnam, Korea, and Japan and is the oldest known game to resemble modern day soccer. You can’t use your hands, and you have to kick a ball into an opening leading to a net. There were various forms of the game, some meant to be played at noble birthdays and feasts, and another played by commoners.
2 teams of 12 to 16 players would compete in a typical Cuju match, where women could also play.
The ball used to play Cuju was commonly made of leather and filled with feathers. Much heavier than a modern day soccer ball, and harder to kick long distances. The shoes they wore would typically have protrusions out the bottoms of them, much like modern day cleats.
Here’s a cool video that might give you a better idea of what the game looks like, and some more in depth information on the game.
How Soccer Was Invented
Modern day soccer was invented in 19th century England, mostly played by private school teams and soccer clubs. The game originated from a 9th century medieval period game called ‘folk football’ played in England that would involve teams of players competing to get a pigs bladder from one landmark to another.
Typically, these teams would be members of the town competing to get the pigs bladder to their opponents area or goal, most often on either side of the town. The game was brutal, with no rules other than don’t murder.
The violent game of folk football was banned throughout some periods of England history, and eventually faded all together when rules were established and field constraints were put into place. Bringing rise to modern day soccer.
Modern day soccer gets its roots from a violent game called ‘folk football’ which put large mobs of people against one another to score goals stretching across a town.
By the 19th century, rules were established and soccer was played by private schools when teams were formed for schools to compete with each other. At this point, hands were allowed during game-play and players could wrestle or grapple each other to the ground. But, the modern rules of soccer started to be set in place and soccer leagues became popular.
Here’s a short video explaining just how crazy folk football was.
Passing Changed The Game
Before the emergence of soccer clubs and officially drafted soccer rules, the players would rarely pass the ball to each other. The game would consist of one player making their way down the field while the rest of the team followed in hopes of picking up a lost or loose ball. There was very little organization or teamwork involved.
Passing and teamwork caused a major disruption in the way soccer was played, and therefore, required a set standard of rules that we play modern day soccer by today.
Once players started passing to each other and working as a team, the game of soccer became more strategic. Plays could then be thought up, and teams could practice their plan of attack during practices before a big match. Coaches were looked at with more importance, and the rules of the game needed to be set in place and refereed.
Soccer Clubs Emerged
As soccer clubs began forming, the rules of the game started to change. Certain schools or teams would play under a set of rules and modern day soccer started to take shape.
One of the oldest soccer clubs in England, and the world, was the Sheffield Football Club. These new clubs would focus on teamwork and cooperation to out-flank and defeat their opponents. The Sheffield Club instated rules involving corner kicks, hand-balls, and free kicks. These rules became the standard later on when England created professional football leagues.
Soccer clubs are still a big part of soccer in England today, and are responsible for shaping the modern day game of soccer we know and love today.
Here’s a quick video walking through the history of various London football clubs.
Official Rules And Leagues Are Formed
In the 1860’s the Football Association(FA) was formed. This is where the word soccer comes from, ‘socc’ shortened from association, and ‘er’ was a popular slang suffix at the time. The FA brought together the different rules used throughout England by various clubs and schools to create one set of soccer regulations.
Over time, more and more soccer clubs and leagues in England joined the FA and followed the regulation game-play rules. Soccer grew in popularity and the clubs started to charge for attendance to watch the matches in the 1870’s. As spectators and revenue grew, the soccer players wanted to be paid, and soccer then became a profession.
By 1900, the rest of Europe had taken interest in the favorite sport of England, and leagues began popping up all over the world. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) was founded in 1904 Paris. In 1930, the first ever FIFA World Cup was held and soccer has been a world-wide beloved sport ever since.
Here’s an informative video about the history of FIFA.
Today, soccer is played all around the world, with world wide youth and women’s tournaments growing in popularity as well as the World Cup. In 1995, the MLS (Major League Soccer) was formed in the US. Due to a ruling by FIFA that the United States Soccer Federation create a Division 1 professional soccer league after winning the 1994 FIFA World Cup.
In almost every country you visit today, they have heard of soccer. Soccer has become an honored and cherished past time for many families across the globe. With new leagues and matches being set up and played all the time, it looks like soccer is here to stay.