Where was soccer invented ? It’s hard to imagine a world in which football doesn’t exist, but in the grand scheme of things, the formalised sport as we know it hasn’t been around all that long.
While rule changes over the years have slowly altered our understanding of how the beautiful game works, we can trace the game of soccer as we know it back to the public schools and universities of England in the 19th century.
However, football as a sport has been around for much longer than that. The human desire to kick a ball around is unrelenting, with various different ancient civilisations being known to have played activities similar to the modern game of soccer.
In this article, we’ll guide you through some of those early forms of the sport, sketching out their relationship with our understanding of the game today.
We’ll use those discussions as context for that all-important question: who invented soccer? Taking you through the game’s origins, we’ll explain the hows, whens, and wheres of the beautiful game’s origins, before looking briefly at the earliest forms of international football. But let’s start with the basics…
Who Invented Soccer?
You’ll see later on in this article that football has been around for centuries; whether it’s cavemen kicking a rock to each other, medieval villages fighting each other for possession of a pig’s bladder, or citizens of Elizabethan England running around a muddy bog (football was mentioned in two William Shakespeare plays, King Lear and A Comedy of Errors), the desire to kick a ball has been expressed by humanity for further back than historians can trace.
However, the transition from folk games (like the ones mentioned above) into modern soccer came during the mid-late 1800s at England’s public schools, where the Laws of the Game were first officially written down.
This set of rules, which was in part established as a way of confining the sport to these institutions and excluding outsiders, was laid out by the inaugural English Football Association, to establish a set of laws that could be followed by those playing football at elite educational institutions across the country (up until the establishment of these Laws, different cities, regions and clubs across the country played using a wide array of different rules and regulations).
Where Was Soccer Invented?
The original Laws set out by the FA still form the bedrock of football all over the world, meaning that generally speaking the English are seen as the inventors of association football.
However, the English game back then looked extremely different; primarily, it was a dribbling game, in which players on the same team took it in turns to try to individually shimmy their way through opposition defences and into goalscoring positions, with little regard for their teammates.
It was the Scottish, who back then being generally smaller than their English counterparts needed to invent new ways of beating more physically combative opponents, who began to devise a different way of playing that made football what it is today: a passing game.
A wave of Scots who ventured south of the border seeking professional playing opportunities at Northern English clubs helped revolutionise the sport by putting far greater emphasis on team moves and passing play.
This phenomenon has led to many people over the years describing Scotland as the nation to have really invented football; and while the sport wasn’t formalised there, the argument that soccer as we know it has a lot to thank the Scots for is undeniable.
When Was Soccer Invented?
The fabled first meeting of the FA took place on October 26th, 1863 at the Freemasons’ Tavern on Great Queen Street in London. At the meeting, representatives from 12 different clubs helped codify the game of football, kicking off over a century and a half of formal association football in the UK.
It’s worth noting that while in histories of the sport it’s largely the men’s game that is focused on, in England and Scotland women have been playing football for almost as long as men have.
The first official organised women’s match took place in Edinburgh in 1881, and during the First World War (and in the following years) women’s football became extremely popular across the United Kingdom, with famous teams such as Dick, Kerr Ladies drawing crowds of up to 50,000 in the post-war years.
Now, while 1863 is broadly seen as the year that football was “invented” formally, people have been playing similar games for centuries, all over the world. Below are a few examples of early forms of soccer.
How and When Was Soccer Invented?
Soccer is the most passionate game on the planet. I still remember the overwhelming joy I felt when my beloved Barcelona overcame PSG 6-1 in the Champions League second leg in 2017 at the last minute.
According to the World Atlas, soccer is the most popular sport, with a 3.5 billion audience with a widespread passion for soccer. How did it all begin?
How Was Soccer Invented?
Modern soccer was invented in England around the 1860s when rugby was detached from soccer. However, the earliest forms of soccer are recorded in the second century B.C. in China during the Han Dynasty, where an ancient form of soccer, Tsu Chu was played.
This was adapted by the Japanese Kemari five centuries later.
Soccer is almost as old as human civilization, surviving and evolving through the ages and eras. Many schools of thought clash with how soccer was invented.
We’ll be exploring the exciting transformation of soccer from the Far East to when it became merged and modernized in England before it would later spread through Europe and the world.
When Was Soccer Invented?
The earliest proven history of soccer was in China around 255–206 B.C. in the era of the Han Dynasty. Soccer was a military ball game called Tsu Chu. The word Tsu Chu means kicking the ball.
In this game, they stuffed a leather ball with hair and feather. The players would have to show tremendous skill in controlling the ball with their legs, with the use of hands prohibited.
Evolution of the Soccer Ball
The Cambridge Rules were revised nine years later to add information about a crucial yet overlooked part of the game: the ball. Previously, a soccer ball could be made out of basically anything and be any size. Usually, it was made from an inflated animal bladder.
However, in 1872, the rules were changed to identify specific weights and the ball’s circumference. The ball was also switched to leather and became easier to kick and lighter.
Another major breakthrough occurred in 1931 when three Argentines (Romano Polo, Antonio Tossolini, and Juan Valbonesi) found a way to make the ball without leather lace. The lace, previously necessary to keep the ball together, often was uncomfortable when heading the ball and sometimes led to major injuries. Its removal made heading the ball significantly safer.
These days, soccer balls are very different. They are no longer made from leather. They are significantly lighter and, overall, more fun to use. Many major companies now try to make the best soccer ball. A bit of trivia: Every single World Cup ball since 1970 has been made by Adidas.
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