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History of Soccer
As you know, football is the most played, watched and televised sport in human history. According to FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) there are currently 270 million people participating in football. (That’s about 4% of the world’s population) So why is this game so interesting to me and the same people? How did this remarkable history come about?
Football, which is called “football” in Wikipedia, is a game that dates back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The original form is said to have originated in China; a game called “cuju”. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, declared China the birthplace of the game in 2004.
In the last decades, many other games appeared in other parts of the world, such as “Harpastum” (Roman), “Kemari” (Japan) and “Knattleikr”. (Iceland) The game was very different from modern football. It wasn’t until the 1800s that different forms of football were organized mainly by English schools. There was a big change in the game when Thomas Arnold (head of the ‘Rugby School’) helped establish the first official rules of Rugby.
In Rugby, players were allowed to kick opponents’ legs below the knees (which had been banned in previous years), holding the ball was also allowed. After this development, football and rugby were separated on December, 1863. The modern game of football was born in England with the establishment 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 where he emphasized the importance of a governing body for football. When the FA was founded they established the “Laws of football” which established 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 it grew rapidly allowing the competition to appear in 1972. The FA Cup is the first football competition and in England it was considered the highest. The ‘Wanderers’ team was the first to win the trophy defeating the ‘Royal Engineers’ 1-0.
Football gradually became popular in other countries with the help of British influence. It wasn’t until 1889, other countries (Netherlands and Denmark) adopted this amazing 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) adopted their own football associations.
In 1904, FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) was founded in Paris to manage international events and there were seven founding members (France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). The first international football competition was introduced at the 1908 London Summer Olympics where Great Britain won gold, Denmark silver and the Netherlands bronze. The outbreak of World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) caused the sport to resume in the years after the war. By 1950, FIFA had 51 member countries. Before the establishment of the World Cup (the most famous soccer tournament), FIFA organized a soccer tournament within the Summer Olympics. In 1930, FIFA will run their tournament in Uruguay; a country with a team becoming the first football team to win a trophy that would be more watched than any other sports competition today.
Football today, is the fastest growing sport and there are 208 national teams recognized by FIFA, plus there are thousands of club teams competing in various leagues and cups to dominate the world. The game has become a habit for many people around the world, helping countries and people to come together as they cheer for their team in the hope that one day, their team will bring home the trophy. The future of soccer always has room for improvement and hopefully it will grow in interest in the US as elsewhere. “Fair-play” is the name of the game.
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