While it’s impossible to say precisely when and where the game of soccer originated, history has shown us a glimpse of a game similar to our current version that has been played for over 3,000 years.
Around the 2nd or 3rd century BC, it was documented that the Chinese military during the Han Dynasty played a game involving a ball in a small net.
A game similar to soccer was played by the ancient Greeks and Romans, but their game could include up to 27 players on one side compared to the modern game of 11 players on one side.
Football has become one of the most popular sports for the masses due to its popularity as a game of war. A game of “football” as the British called it, was played in the east of England in the 8th century where the head of a defeated Danish prince was used as a ball.
In medieval times, villages and towns were pitted against each other in gambling battles that could last all day. There were no structured rules to follow, and the kicks, bites, scams, and punches turned the game into a virtual battle for survival. These matches have become so violent that the English authorities have made numerous attempts to ban football.
King Edward III of England passed laws in 1331 to abolish gambling, and Queen Elizabeth I passed a law that provided for a one-week jail term for anyone caught playing football.
Despite these efforts, football became so popular in England over the following centuries that it became the most popular sport of its time.
At this point, the sport’s only shortcoming was its lack of rules or standards. In 1815, Eton College, a famous English school, established a set of rules to be implemented by other schools, colleges and universities.
A standardized version of these rules was later adopted in 1848 by most colleges and universities in England known as the Cambridge Rules.
Unfortunately, at this point, two sets of rules were still in use. Some colleges favored rugby rules that allowed the ball to be carried with the hands, tripped, and shin kicks. which violated the Cambridge Rules.
In 1863, the Football Association was formed by eleven English football clubs and schools to establish a unique set of rules to be applied when playing against each other.
Supporters of the rugby school rules opposed the changes and the two groups went their separate ways. The Football Association subsequently changed the rules in 1869 where it banned the use of hands except by the goalkeeper, which led us to football as we know it today.
The English still called it a game of “football” because the ball was played primarily with the feet, but at the end of the 18th century the word “soccer” was first used by a student at the University of London. ‘Oxford named after Charles Wreford Brown. . Oxford students were notorious for using slang where they added “uh” to the end of words they had intentionally shortened. The game of rugby was called “rugger”. Brown shortened the word “association” and added “uh” and the term “soccer” was born.
Since the 19th century, the game has evolved until it is today. It is the game of the world that is played by more people than any other sport and is universally recognized as the most popular game in the history of sports.
The World Cup which is held every four years to crown a world champion attracts millions of spectators to the 32 games played and is watched by billions of fans around the world thanks to modern satellite television technology.
The popularity of football continues to grow as organized youth football programs involve a young fan base from an early age, which will fuel its growth for years to come.