Soccer (a.k.a Football in some parts of the world) is the most popular sport in the world, with an estimation of 3.5 billion fans and 265 million people who practice it. Its popularity is centered in Europe, Africa, Asia, and America.
Soccer dates its beginnings to over 3000 years ago in old Mesoamerican cultures when the first known sport similar to soccer was played. It consisted of a ball made out of a rock and two different teams. There is not enough evidence to describe the game they used to play, but what it is known that the captain of the losing team would be sacrificed to the gods. 2000 years after the first “soccer” game was played, China started practicing a similar game to soccer. This game, or sport, was called Cuju. It was practiced around the 3rd and 2nd century B.C. This sport was more similar to modern soccer compared to the one played in Mesoamerica. Cuju was played with a round ball on an area of a square field, and the objective was to kick the ball through an opening into a net. Similar to soccer, the use of hand was not allowed at all. This game became so popular that later spread to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Ancient Greece and Rome also practiced similar games. In Greece, during the 7th century, the balls were made of leather and were filled with hair. In Rome, these types of games with the ball were not used as entertainment in the arenas but were used as exercises in the military. It was the Roman culture that brought soccer to the British island.
It was in England, during the 12th century, where soccer started taking shape. In those time periods, soccer was played on roads and meadows, and besides from kicks, the game also involved punches to the ball with the fist. This form of soccer was more rough and violent than modern soccer. This type of soccer was played by large amounts of people and took place in large areas in towns. Soccer was forbidden for a few centuries because of the rampage and damage this game used to leave to the town. It was not until the 17th century that soccer was finally allowed again in London. It was implemented in public schools as well as rugby. There were not a lot of differences between these sports at the beginning. In soccer, players could carry the ball with their hands, as well as in Rugby. To determine what will differentiate between these two sports, an important event took place in 1863 in London, where the first Football Association was formed. This association determined that carrying the ball with the hands was not allowed, and also determined the standard size and weight of the ball. Even though this association was created, Soccer was not perfect. It was very flexible with its rules. As time passed by, Soccer’s rules were taking shape. In the 19th century, Soccer’s rules became more consistent.
The first competitions of this exciting sport took place during the 1870s. The Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) was the first important competition in soccer’s history. The following year, the first national match was played. England vs. Scotland. Over 4000 people attended this match, and this was the beginning of several other national matches. It was in 1904 when the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (a.k.a. FIFA) was founded in France. Representatives from Europe signed an act that gave FIFA complete control of Soccer. The first edition of the FIFA World Cup was played in 1930 in Uruguay, and since then, it has taken place every four years in different countries.
The sport that we love has been going through radical changes that have shaped it. Soccer, nowadays, is considered the best sport by a lot of people, the worst by a few, but we have to accept that it has revolutionized sports’ world.