Today, football is a massive sport with no less than a billion fans all around the world. Almost every country has a football league and people from all walks of life follow the sport. However, such a successful sport which has earned a huge deal of money definitely did not become a global sensation overnight. So, the question begs, who invented soccer? also, when was soccer invented?
What Country Invented Soccer?
According to FIFA, the earliest historic record known of football, at least in part, goes back third century China, where they played a game called “Tsu Chu”, which roughly translates to “kick ball”. According to a military training manual, they have found in China which dates back to at least between 2 and 3 BC, the Chinese were already playing a rudimentary game loosely similar to the game of football that we know today. As far back as we go, this explanation seems to answer the question where soccer invented quite nicely
Rules were pretty similar: a leather ball was loosely passed around players who had scored by placing the ball inside a net held by bamboo sticks while being attacked by the enemy. The shooter was not allowed to use his hands but was able to use any other body part, like his feet and his head.
Other origins of the sport were also noted in other countries. Japan had a similar type of game to the Chinese, called the Kemari, and is still being played today. Meanwhile, the Greeks and the Romans also had their versions of the game.
But with regards to the game of football as we know today, that came about in England back during the eighth century and became popular until the 19th century. Football was still a mixture of both football and rugby back then, but it was already recognised as the sport of “football”.
Back then, rules weren’t as comprehensive. Many manoeuvres that would be considered fouls today were perfectly legal and allowed back then, including brash tackles, high kicks, and even offsides.
In fact, any number of players can join in a game, making the match violent and chaotic. During this time, the game was termed “mob football”. The game’s primary goal back then was to simply put the ball to the back of the net by any means necessary, short of course of killing another person.
Soon, many schools in England have started to adopt football as a sport mainly because of its popularity. Schools and universities started to form clubs to cater to their students’ demands for the sport. In order to ensure their students were not hurt as badly during the game, specific rules were agreed upon by both parties before the start of each match.
This system continued on until 1823 when, during a game, William Webb Ellis decided to tuck the ball under his arms before shooting it to the back of the net. This move split opinion among the different schools. Some favoured the new style, while others still preferred the old-fashioned way of dribbling the ball with their feet.
The different schools then decided rules must be established to find a common ground on how the game should be played. The schools then met at Cambridge University in 1863 to establish the rules of the game as we know it today. Proponents of the rugby-style approach to the game lost out to the majority and decided to separate themselves from the sport of football altogether – signalling the birth of rugby.
The schools and clubs who were for the old-style approach to the game decided to form a governing body that will decide on the rules of football going forward, marking the formation of the Football Association – and with it the formal birth of the game “Association Football.”
The Modern Game
Eight years from the incarnation of the football association, the first ever FA Cup was played. During this time, the FA already had 50 member clubs. As such, the tournament became a huge success relative to its time. This was witnessed by neighbouring countries and the football craze spread like wildfire across Europe. The sport first spread around the home nations, with Scotland, Wales, and finally, Ireland following suit and forming their own associations.
Over time, thanks to British influence overseas, other European countries followed suit: the Netherlands and Denmark formed their associations just before the turn of the new century. Argentina and New Zealand, thanks to colonial British roots, also formed their own governing bodies soon after. From there, other countries followed: Germany, Italy, Hungary, Finland, Belgium. The list went on and on.
When the sport reached global proportions, leading people of the sport decided to form an overall authority for football, leading to the formation of FIFA in 1904. Twenty-six years later, the first ever World Cup was played. Indded, you can be sure around the organisation there would be members smug enough to believe it was they who invented soccer.
The legends that were born and the entertainment that was brought on since then, as they say, is history.