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History of Soccer
As you probably know, football is the most played, watched and televised sport in human history. According to FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), 270 million people are currently actively involved in football. (That’s about 4% of the world’s population) So why has this sport become such a big interest for me and for people? What is the story behind this widely followed event?
Football, which is called “association football” in Wikipedia, is a sport whose roots date back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The oldest form is believed to originate in China; a game called “cuju”. Football’s governing body FIFA officially declared China the birthplace of its game in 2004.
In recent decades, many other forms of sport have been spotted in other parts of the world, such as “Harpastum” (Roman), “Kemari” (Japan) and “Knattleikr”. (Iceland) These games were of course very different from what modern football is. It wasn’t until the 19th century that various forms of football became something of an organized event played mostly by prestigious state schools in England. There were many improvements in the course of the sport when Thomas Arnold (headmaster of the ‘Rugby School’ helped establish the first standardized rules of rugby.
In rugby they allowed players to kick opponents’ legs below the knees (which has been banned in recent years), ball handling was also allowed. Following this development, football and rugby separated in December 1863. Modern football was born in England with the formation of the FA (Football Association) which is the governing body of football in England. Ebenezer Cobb Morley was a founding member of the Football Association in which he stressed the importance of a governing body for football. After the creation of the FA, he established the “Laws of Football” which implemented the rules by which the game is played today. On January 9, 1864, the first exhibition football match was played at Battersea Park. In just eight years, the FA had 50 member clubs and grew rapidly, allowing a competition to emerge in 1972. The FA Cup is football’s premier competition and is considered England’s most prestigious. The ‘Wanderers’ were the first team to win the cup, beating the ‘Royal Engineers’ 1-0.
Football slowly popularized in other countries with the help of British influence. It was not until 1889 that other countries (the Netherlands and Denmark) adopted this marvelous game. Football began to grow rapidly with the following countries; New Zealand (1891), Argentina (1893), Chile, Switzerland, Belgium (1895), Italy (1898), Germany, Uruguay (1900) and Hungary (1901) adopt their own football associations.
In 1904, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was created in Paris to regulate international matches and there were seven founding members (France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). The first international football competition was introduced at the London Summer Olympics in 1908, with Great Britain winning gold, Denmark silver and the Netherlands bronze. The emergence of World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) brought the sport’s growth to a halt and resumed years after the war. In 1950, FIFA had 51 member countries. Before the creation of the World Cup (the most prestigious football competition), FIFA organized a football competition within the framework of the Summer Olympics. In 1930, FIFA would run its own tournament in Uruguay; the host country to be the first football team to win the cup which would be the most watched than any other professional tournament today.
Football is now a growing sport with 208 national teams recognized by FIFA. Additionally, thousands of club teams compete in various leagues and cups for world domination. The sport has become an addiction for many around the world, helping nations and people come together as they cheer on their team in hopes that one day their team will win a trophy. The future of football always has room for improvement and will hopefully increase interest in the United States as well as elsewhere. “Fair play” is the name of the game.
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