A brief history of soccer
With around 300 million people playing soccer regularly worldwide, soccer is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world, and one many youngsters dream of playing.
I have met countless little boys who dream of lifting the World Cup aloft and celebrating for days on end because of their love for soccer. I am sure they are not alone in having this desire, and it is one many soccer fans across the world have!
Globally, soccer trades billions of dollars in revenue between professional soccer clubs, stadiums, soccer-related brands, merchandise and so much more.
Skilled soccer players are held in such high regard that each player could cost twice as much as an average airplane. It is a sport that elicits heaps of passion and commands a gargantuan following globally. For millions of diehard fans, soccer isn’t just a sport — it is a religion.
When Was Soccer Created?
Soccer, or football, as it is called in most countries, is a very old sport. What has evolved to become a global force today had very humble beginnings. The first known instances of people playing a game that seemed like soccer can be traced back to over 3,000 years ago during the Mesoamerican era.
According to multiple historical sources, 3000 years ago, there was a game involving the use of a ball that represented the sun. The ball was made of rock, and the captain of the losing team would be sacrificed to appease the gods. I can’t see that getting past FIFA as a new rule anytime soon!
If this is true, this would mean the game of soccer is at least 3,000 years old.
However, the first documents that indicate evidence of a sport involving “balls filled with air” is dated to as far back as the 7th century in Ancient Rome. It is said that the Ancient Greeks and the Romans all had adaptations on a game with a ball.
So, when was soccer created? I’m not entirely sure; in fact, no one is. But one thing is sure; the game was created several thousand years ago.
Where Was Soccer Created?
Depending on the historian you ask, the history of soccer can be traced back to ancient China, Greek, Rome or Central America. Almost every region has a supposedly valid claim to being the birthplace of soccer.
However, while soccer’s ancient origins is still a contentious topic, its rapid development and transformation in England are often less challenged. While soccer was just another game among several sports played in ancient times, it is in England that soccer transitioned into the game we know today.
Did the British create the rules?
In the 12th-century, games resembling soccer were being played by people on roads and in meadows all across the country. However, rather than using your feet constantly, you would start the game by punching the ball.
It slowly adapted once again in the 16th century when towns would battle it out against each other by trying to get the ball from one village to the next. There would be minimal rules and a lot of violence. The game is still held annually in Britain, and there is footage of YouTubers taking part.
I hope that was entertaining for you! 😂
So, as you can see, soccer was once quite rudimentary and unstructured. It was very rough and violent. Its lack of rules and organization made it much less interesting than it is today…
The game was banned for centuries due to violent outbreaks but returned to the streets of London in the early 1800s. However, the Government banned it once again until 1835, but at this point, it was well established in schools across the country, and its popularity was rivaling cricket.
In 1848, there was an attempt to finally sort out some rules for this game in Cambridge, and this led to the creation of leagues and teams across the country. One of the first clubs Notts County, created in 1862, still exists today! The popularity and amount of clubs being created led to the English Football Association being set up in 1863.
In 1885, after a long hard battle, professional football was established, and in 1888 the first soccer league was created. When soccer was first played in England, there were just 12 teams in the league; now, there are 92 recognized teams in the first four top-flight divisions; in the country, there are over 40,000 recognized clubs with the soccer association.
Soccer was well and truly on its way to becoming a popular sport in the late 1800s in England, but what about the rest of the world?
Soccer across the world
Despite the domination of the English game, clubs were being formed across Europe as they tried to challenge the British sides. At the turn of the century, clubs from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Italy were starting to get themselves noticed. In 1904, 41 years after the English Football Association, FIFA was created and recognized as the global soccer head.
It was not long before soccer dominated the sporting scene across the world, particularly in South America, where countries such as Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina were becoming real forces. In 1930, it was in South America where the first World Cup was played and where the first World Cup would live for four years. After 16 countries entered the tournament, it was the hosts Uruguay who prospered and beat Argentina 4-2 in the final.
Since 1930, there have been 20 more World Cups and the creation of many more domestic tournaments and leagues such as the MLS, European Champions League, Copa Libertadores, African Cup of Nations, and many more thrilling competitions that are watched worldwide.
Now, just in Europe alone, there are 36 professional football leagues with more than 950 clubs in 29 countries. Across the world, there are many more clubs being formed, for example, two years ago, David Beckham formed Inter Miami FC, and in March 2020, they played their first professional game in the MLS against Los Angeles FC.
Will things change for soccer?
It is evident that soccer has evolved massively over a relatively short period of time, and in that period, the rules have changed frequently. From rules such as offside, how to decide a draw in a tournament, and how many points are awarded for a win, there has been an adaptation from the original 1848 rules.
It is clear the game is always changing, and it will continue to change, especially with the use of video assistance, but one thing that will be remembered is that the love for the game that supposedly originated 3,000 years ago will not change.