Soccer is arguably the most popular sport in the world, with millions of fans across different countries. But have you ever wondered who invented soccer? Diving deep into the origins of this game has often been the pathway to confusion for many experts.
Some form of game involving kicking a ball around has existed in virtually all continents, so it’s hard to pin down who invented soccer and how it evolved into the modern version that we’re familiar with today. Curious how the ball for soccer got rolling? Here’s a quick history lesson for you.
Who Invented Soccer?
This is a difficult question because, over the years, soccer has been called many things and played in many different ways. Today, the majority of the world calls it football, except for a few countries like the United States and Ireland that call it soccer.
There have been numerous variations of the game such as rugby and American soccer that allow the use of hands. Add to that, the game has been played for thousands of years, so it’s hard to say exactly who created or invented this sport.
What Were the Early Forms of Football?
Records of early forms of football can be traced back over 2,000 years to ancient China, Rome, Greece, Mesoamerica, and England.
The ancient Chinese called it “Cuju” or “Tsu Chu,” and the game was played using feet only, much like soccer. Players at the time used it to demonstrate their skills at handling and maneuvering the ball.
In ancient Greece, it was called “Episkyros.” This game, however, was played quite violently and the use of hands was allowed. Episkyros was later adapted by the Romans as a sport to entertain the aristocrats, similar to chariot races and gladiator fights. The Romans called it “Harpastum,” and it’s believed that many players died in-game.
Early Mix of Soccer & Rugby
Before soccer was reinvented with various rules, such as no touching the ball and penalties for tackling, it was a mix of typical rugby and soccer.
Hands were allowed, tackling was permitted, the size of the ball was undefined, and there was no limit to the number of players a team could have. It was the establishment of the Football Association in 1863 that separated soccer from rugby.
How Was Soccer Invented?
Modern soccer with the rules it is played by across the world today originated in England in 1848.
Soccer or football was growing in popularity in the United Kingdom, especially among the younger generation of aristocrats.
After a lot of debate and discussion about the best ways to have a fair game of soccer, students at the University of Cambridge came together and wrote the first-ever set of rules. It was a list of 11 rules that included a lot of specific details such as defining what constitutes a “goal” and not allowing players to tackle or push one another with their hands.
However, in 1863, numerous English football club leaders gathered at a London freemasons tavern to revise the rules once more after all the trials and errors of the previous rules. Together, they formed the Football Association and published an official rulebook that’s still in use today.
When Was Soccer Invented?
The origins of soccer can be traced back to the Han Dynasty of China in the 3rd Century BCE. It was a military ball game that they called “Tsu Chu.”
In this era, balls were made using animal hides stuffed with hair and feathers. This is the earliest known record of football to date. In Mandarin, the word “Tsu Chu” means kicking a ball.
The English and European Soccer Beginnings
Throughout history, soccer has spread or existed in some form in all parts of the world. It has existed in England for a very long time although the game was considered more of a nuisance than entertainment, even prohibited in some areas.
However, around the 19th Century, soccer was reinvented and grew to prominence in England.
First Soccer Clubs
Sheffield Football Club is recognized as the oldest football in the world by the Football Association and FIFA. It was formed in 1857 and used its own rules for the game, not adapting the Football Association’s rules until 1877.
Some sources, however, dispute that the Cambridge University Association Football Club was the first soccer club now using association rules. But there’s a lot of uncertainty about the precise date of origin, so it’s not officially recognized as the oldest.
The First Professional Players
The first professional soccer tournament was organized by the Football Association in 1867 and had 12 participating clubs. However, this number quickly shot up around the time of the next tournament. And as soon as the first professional players began acquiring fame, fans, and wealth, the competition expanded rapidly.
Soccer has grown a lot since the Football Association days. The first professional tournament was watched by 4,000 people at the Hamilton Crescent.
But once football started gaining more worldwide recognition, the size of the competition grew exponentially. By 1873, it was already popular in other parts of Europe and South America.
Today, it is mostly governed by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) that was formed in 1904 by signatories from all over Europe. FIFA was formed to host an array of international competitions for countries to peacefully compete and showcase their best team lineups.
Where Is Soccer Today?
Association Football is now the world’s most popular sport and worth over USD 600 Billion worldwide. The last Football World Cup was watched by over 3.5 billion people worldwide. Its fanbase is so large that virtually 1 out of every 2 people in the world is a soccer fan.