We are proud to present to you the debut episode of our new series, Origins. This short documentary series will delve into the history of a different topic in each episode. This first installment takes a look at the origins of soccer/football just in time for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finale between France and Croatia!
Globally, association football is played by over 250 million players in over 200 nations and has the highest television audience in sport, making it the most popular in the world.
The first confirmed foot-only, soccer-like game began around 300 B.C. in China, a game called tsu-chu, in which soldiers kicked a leather-bound ball of feathers through a net. Other soccer predecessors tended to use feet and hands to move balls of various materials and involved teams of various sizes. These included the Ancient Roman harpastum and the Ancient Greek episkyros. There are also a number of references to traditional, ancient, or prehistoric ball games, played by indigenous peoples in many different parts of the world
The main sources of modern football codes appear to lie in Western Europe, especially England.
Between the 9th and 19th centuries in Britain, there were many variants but most had loose rules, players could use all body parts, entire towns were involved, and games were violent. Historians call these variants mob football. It became popular and dangerous enough that several kings and rulers tried to ban the game in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Wanting to make the game safer, in 1863, several major public schools in Britain created the Football Association (FA), which formalized and standardized rules for soccer. In the late 1800s, this formal version of soccer spread throughout the world.
The need for a single body to oversee association football had become apparent by the beginning of the 20th century, with the increasing popularity of international fixtures. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in Paris on May 21, 1904 with only 7 members.
When soccer was removed from the 1932 Olympics, it was decided that a world cup should be held. In 1930, Uruguay hosted the first world cup games.
As this was during the depression, many European players did not make the trip as they feared they would lose their day jobs back at home.
Uruguay, having won the gold medals in soccer during previous Olympic games, was able to win the world cup. The score of the final game was 4-2 against Argentina in front of over 90,000 fans.
Since then, the game has continued to evolve. Aspects such as yellow and red cards, as well as penalty kicks are some of the most notable additions.
The level of professionalism has also grown from players needing other forms of income to today where soccer stars sign multi million dollar contracts.