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History of Soccer
As you probably know, soccer is the most played, watched and televised sport in the history of mankind. According to FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) currently 270 million people are actively involved in the game of football. (That’s about 4% of the world’s population) So why has this game become such a big hit with me and the public? What is the history behind this widely watched event?
Soccer referred to in Wikipedia as “football association” is a sport with roots dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The earliest form is said to have originated in China; A game called “Kuju”. FIFA, football’s governing body, officially declared China the birthplace of the game in 2004.
In later decades, many other forms of the game appeared in other regions of the world, such as “Harpastum” (Roman), “Kemari” (Japan), and “Natlikar”. (Iceland) The game was of course very different from modern football. By the 19th century various forms of football had become organized events played by prestigious public schools in England. The game was greatly improved when Thomas Arnold (head of the ‘Rugby School’) helped establish the first standardized rules of rugby.
In rugby, they allowed players to kick an opponent’s leg below the knee (which was banned in later years), while handling the ball was also allowed. Following this development, football and rugby split 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 in which he emphasized the importance of a governing body for football. After the FA was founded he came up with the “Laws of Football” which established the rules by which the game is played today. The first exhibition game of football was played at Battersea Park on 9 January 1864. In just eight years, the FA had 50 member clubs and grew rapidly to see a competition emerge in 1972. The FA Cup is the premier football competition and is considered the most prestigious competition in England. ‘Wanderers’ became the first team to win the cup by defeating ‘Royal Engineers’ 1-0.
With the help of British influence, football gradually became popular in other countries. It wasn’t until 1889 that other countries (Netherlands and Denmark) adopted this wonderful 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 (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was founded in Paris to regulate international matches and had seven founding members (France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). The 1908 London Summer Olympics marked the first international football tournament, with Great Britain winning gold, Denmark silver and the Netherlands bronze. The outbreak of World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945) brought the growing sport to a halt again a few years after the war. By 1950, FIFA had 51 member countries. Before the creation of the World Cup (the most prestigious football tournament), FIFA organized a football tournament at the Summer Olympics. In the 1930s, FIFA would administer their own tournament in Uruguay; The host nation is the first football team to win the cup, which would be the most spectacular of any professional competition today.
Today football is a growing sport with 208 national teams recognized by FIFA, in addition to thousands of club teams competing against each other in various leagues and cups for global supremacy. The game has become an addiction for many people around the world, helping to unite nations and people as they cheer on their team in hopes of one day bringing their team a trophy. There’s always room for improvement in the future of soccer, and hopefully there will be increased interest in the US elsewhere. ‘Fair-play’ is the name of the game.
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