Soccer is one of the biggest sports in the world, and it’s loved by millions.
How did soccer become a sport? The history of soccer is full of interesting facts, and some may just surprise you! Want to learn more? Keep reading to find out!
How Was Soccer Created?
The first football game can be traced back as far as 771 AD, but it wasn’t until 15 years later that the rules were formalized. At that time, the game was played between two teams of 11 players each.
One team would try to score goals against their opponents while defending themselves.
This type of game was called “association football” because it was played on an association field.
Some of the earliest soccer games were recorded in the 2nd century in China during the Han Dynasty, where Tsu Chu, an ancient type of soccer, was played.
When Was Soccer Created?
It’s believed that soccer officially started during the Han Dynasty, when soccer first emerged as a military-style ball game. During this time, soccer was called Tsu Chu, which means ‘kicking the ball’.
A leather ball was stuffed with hair and feathers, and players would have to demonstrate that they could control the ball with their feet (using hands was prohibited). Since then, soccer has evolved tremendously.
In 1863, the Football Association was formed in England. They began organizing games for schools and colleges, and by 1872, they had created some of the laws that are still used today.
These laws include having only eleven players per side, and a goal scored from any part of the field counts. The infamous offside rule had yet to be introduced.
In 1889, the English FA decided to hold the first international match. It took place in London, England, where Scotland beat England 2-1. That same year, the Scottish FA joined the FAs.
By 1900, there were over 200 different associations around the globe. Today, there are over 400 official FIFA member countries.
The First Soccer Ball
The soccer balls used during the Han Dynasty are the first recorded soccer balls.
These balls were around 35cm wide, made of leather, and stuffed with hair and feathers.
The ball would be shot into a net made from bamboo cane – although the soccer net has remained an important feature of modern soccer, nets during this time were raised around 30m above the ground.
Soccer In Ancient Greece
Evidence also suggests that the ancient Greeks enjoyed a game of soccer! The Greeks used a round ball filled with wool, and the players would kick the ball toward the opposing team.
In 2500 BC, players would move the soccer ball across the designated boundary markings of their opponents.
Athletic events such as wrestling, boxing, running races, and throwing competitions were held throughout ancient Greece, however, soccer was not included in these athletic events.
The History Of Soccer In England Europe
During the Middle Ages, the sport of soccer was introduced to England by the French. They brought the game to England in the 13th century.
However, soccer had already appeared in England in the 9th century – at this point, the game was more of a nuisance, and it was even prohibited in some parts of the country. In 9th century England, soccer balls were made from pig’s bladders!
England became one of the most popular places for soccer due to its large population.
Many people came to England to work in the textile mills and brought their favorite sports with them, including cricket, rugby, and tennis.
England’s first professional soccer league was established in 1888. Over the next few decades, many other leagues followed suit.
Here’s a look at some of the earliest and most influential soccer milestones in England:
- In 1895, the FA Cup was founded. This is considered the oldest cup competition in the world.
- In 1904, the International Football Association Board was set up. This board regulated all aspects of the game, including rules, equipment standards, and player safety.
- In 1908, the FA changed the game’s name to “Association football.”
- In 1913, the FA Cup Final was played between Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion. Preston won 1-0.
- In 1920, the FA Premier League was formed, consisting of top teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland.
- In 1921, the FA Cup final was moved to Wembley Stadium.
Soccer And Rugby: An Early Mix
By the 1930s, both soccer and rugby were very popular in Great Britain.
At this time, they were often combined together; for example, schools would play a match on Saturday morning.
Then, after lunch, students would go back to school and continue playing until 4pm or 5pm.
This combination of two sports continued through the 1950s and 1960s.
Elton and Rugby were two schools in Britain that contributed to the evolution of soccer in its modern-day form.
At Rugby school, the rules were different. Players would use both their hands and feet to move the ball, but at Elton, the ball was moved with the feet and feet alone.
At Elton, this game was called ‘the dribbling game,’ and as such, it’s far closer to modern soccer than the games at Rugby.
Soccer and rugby remained mixed games in this way until 1863 when a meeting at Cambridge was held to firmly establish the rules and laws of each game.
When Were The First Soccer Clubs Established?
The history of soccer clubs can be traced back to 1857. That year, the first official soccer club was created, named Wanderers FC.
Wanderers FC was an amateur team. Amateur teams did not have to pay players, so the team could afford to hire better coaches and trainers than non-amateur teams.
Wanderers FC was also one of the first teams to wear shirts. Previously, teams wore long-sleeved jerseys and shorts.
However, Wanderer’s FC had a short existence. After only three years, the club folded.
The first ever professional soccer club was formed in 1880. This club was called Blackburn Rovers FC.
Blackburn Rovers FC was the first club to win the FA Cup, beating Old Etonians 2-1 in the final.
Blackburn Rovers FC was also the first club to introduce the goalkeeper into the game.
Before then, goalkeepers were just used for blocking shots; Blackburn Rovers FC lasted for over 20 years before folding.
The oldest surviving soccer club today is Notts County, which was formed in Nottingham, England, in 1862.
Their infamous black and white jerseys inspired the iconic Juventus kit.
When Rugby Transitioned To Soccer
The transition from rugby to soccer happened gradually over the years. By 1875, there were no more formalized rules for rugby; instead, players used whatever rules they felt like using.
However, in 1877, an Englishman named William Webb Ellis invented what we now call soccer. He was playing a game of rugby, and he kicked the ball into the air instead of catching it.
The kick went high into the sky and landed near another player who then ran with the ball. From this moment forward, the game evolved into something completely new.
Over the next several decades, soccer spread throughout Europe, and by 1900, almost every country had its own version of the game.
The FA also established some firm rules to help differentiate the games.
For example, the FA prevented the use of carrying the ball during open play, and ‘foul play’ such as kicking and tripping was banned in soccer.
They also introduced rules that helped determine the ball’s weight and size used during games.
This has now led to the official separation between soccer and rugby that we recognize today.
The First Professional Players
In 1895, the first professional soccer league was formed. This league was called the Football League.
Today, the Football League remains the top division of English football.
Football became popular in America in the early 1900s. The first American professional soccer league was started in 1904.
This league was called the American Soccer League. The American Soccer League lasted for two seasons before being disbanded.
The National Challenge Cup followed the American Soccer League, and the United States Football Association organized this cup.
The USFA later renamed itself to become the U.S. Soccer Federation and is still the governing body of soccer in the USA today.
Other countries soon began forming their leagues; for example, the Scottish Football League was founded in 1890, and other European nations soon followed suit.
By 1920, soccer was becoming very popular all around the world.
Early Soccer Games And Audiences
One of the earliest matches played on record took place in 1788. This match was between Liverpool and Manchester, with Liverpool winning 3-0.
Another famous match occurred in 1872. This match was held at Kennington Oval in London and pitted the Wanderers against Blackheath F.C. The Wanderers won 5-2.
The first international soccer match ever played took place in 1874 between Scotland and England, with Scotland winning 2-1.
The first World Cup tournament was held in 1930. That year, eight teams participated in the tournament, and Uruguay defeated Argentina 1-0 in the final.
The Historical Growth Of Soccer
Today, soccer is one of the most popular sports globally, but the sport only really exploded after the Second World War.
During the war, many people turned to other activities because of rationing. As a result, the number of players dropped dramatically.
After the war ended, however, the demand for soccer increased greatly.
This increase in popularity led to the creation of more teams. By the 1960s, there were over 100 different teams in the UK alone.
The 1970 FIFA World Cup saw the introduction of television coverage. This made the sport much easier to watch.
Since then, soccer has continued to grow in popularity. There are currently over 200 million fans worldwide.
FIFA: The Formation
Even if you’re not a soccer fan, you’ve most certainly heard of FIFA. This organization governs soccer throughout the entire world.
FIFA was originally known as the International Football Association Board. It was created in 1908. The original members included representatives from Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and many more.
In 1921, FIFA changed its name to the International Federation of Association Football. During this time, FIFA decided to hold an annual championship.
The purpose of FIFA’s championship was to determine the best team in the world. It would be held every four years.
There have been several changes since then. For instance, the competition now takes place every two years.
The National Challenge Cup followed the American Soccer League. The United States Football Association organized this cup.
The USFA later renamed itself to become the U.S. Soccer Federation. The USSF is still the governing body of soccer in the USA today.
FIFA’s First Championship
The first official FIFA World Cup was held in 1930. Eighteen teams competed in this tournament. Brazil beat Argentina 4-2 in the final.
The second FIFA World Cup was held four years later. This tournament had 24 teams participating. Uruguay beat Czechoslovakia 6-3 in the final.
The third FIFA World Cup was held two years later. This tournament featured 32 teams. Uruguay again won the tournament with a score of 8-2 over Austria.
Soccer Across The World
It wasn’t just in England and Europe that soccer exploded in popularity. By this point, soccer was a popular sport the whole world over.
Countries like Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, India, and Australia have all adopted soccer as their national game.
In addition to these countries, there are also some smaller countries where soccer is very popular. Examples include Israel, Turkey, Greece, Poland, and Hungary.
Some countries play soccer but don’t call it football. Examples of these include Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
Some countries use soccer as part of their culture. Examples of these include Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Today, soccer is played around the world.
This includes professional leagues in which players earn money for playing. Some of these include the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, MLS, and the Chinese Super League.
Other leagues only feature amateur players. We’ve also seen rising popularity in demand for female soccer. Many female teams compete professionally across the globe, with firm fanbases, funding, and success to celebrate.
The World’s Richest Soccer Clubs
Have you ever wondered what the world’s richest soccer clubs are?
In 2022, Manchester City took the top spot with a staggering €644.9m in revenue! Sitting in second place is the infamous previous top spotters Real Madrid, who have accumulated a massive €640.7m in revenue.
Today, soccer has an estimated 3.5 billion fans worldwide, taking the top spot just above cricket, which has a global fan base of around 2.5 billion.
Soccer has come a long way since its first games with leather balls, vague rules, and bamboo nets.
As a result, Europe and England played a large role in the modern-day formation of soccer, and as you can see, the game’s history is much more varied than you might have originally thought!
Frequently Asked Questions
When Was The MLS Created?
The MLS was founded on April 12th, 1993. The original MLS consisted of ten teams: Chicago Fire, Dallas Burn, Los Angeles Galaxy, New York/New Jersey MetroStars, San Jose Clash, Tampa Bay Mutiny, Washington Stars, Houston Dynamos, Kansas City Wiz, and Colorado Foxes.
Why Do Americans Call It Soccer Instead Of Football?
The term “soccer” was actually created in Britain as a colloquialism of “association”.
The term spread over the pond, and Americans kept it as a means of distinguishing it from American football, which we of course just call football.
When Was The EPL Created?
The EPL was formed in 1992 by Rupert Murdoch and John Kay. They bought up all the old English Football League teams and merged them into one league.
The first season had 20 teams, including Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Leeds United, and more.