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The History of Football Soccer


Introduction: History of Football (Soccer)

From a simple ancient ball game to the most popular sport on the planet. The history of football Soccer has been through not only the feet of diverse cultures over time, but also by the hands. Many violent matches took place until new rules originated the football as we know nowadays. Football has turned into leisure on weekends as well as a show that arises the fans’ passion in various competitions and events. How did it all begin? This is what you will learn in our article.

Football Soccer Origins

Even historians are not sure about how it all began. The origins of football date back to traces of games of ball similar to the referred sport in several ancient millenary cultures, as part of religious rituals and other symbolic traditions.

See also ⇒ The History of Futsal

Where did Football (Soccer) come from?

It is known that in China, a ball game played with the feet was regulated and made official for the military training of their soldiers. It was the tsu-chu, which goal was to pass the ball without letting it drop until it reached two fixed posts in the field. This technique had been taking place in the region around 2,500 BC.

In Japan, a similar ritual game was called kemari, being used as a recreation by royalty. Moving forward in time, in Greece, in 776 BC, a great game that would be the predecessor of football had emerged: the Epyskiros.

The appearance of Football (Soccer) in the Western World

In the Western World, the Epyskiros, which was part of the Hellenic youth education, consisted of a game played with a ball made with the bladder of an animal, filled with air or sand. Two teams of 15 athletes competed in order to take it to a certain spot.

In Rome, around 150 BC, this game went through changes and was named Harpastum, in which it was also allowed that the leather-covered “ball of bladder” was carried with the hands, in addition to the use of the feet.

This game, of extremely aggressive style, was used for the military training of Roman soldiers. There are reports of several deaths during the matches, as punches, kicks and other bloody moves were allowed – and often encouraged.

Excellent Documentary on the History of Football Soccer:

The Ancestor of Football (Soccer) was a Violent Game

In the Middle Ages, Britain was used to having games of ball played between villages in traditional brutal events. In other countries, such as France, Scotland, and Italy, violence also tarnished the reputation of the game, being disliked by overall society.

Even so, the game continued to be played until arriving in 1500 in Florence, Italy, with the version called gioco del calcio or Calcio Fiorentino. Calcio is considered by many the ancestor of football, American football and rugby.

The game consisted of two teams, with 27 amateur players each, divided between attackers and defenders. The tactics of the game were inspired by the Roman harpastum. Interestingly, this Italian tradition is still maintained today in an annual tournament held in the country.

England: the Origin of Modern Football (Soccer)

In England, the violence and confusion provided by the game were so significant that King Edward II had to enact a law preventing the practice, around the fourteenth century. However, this law was not enough to prevent royal members from creating a somewhat “lighter” version of the game (hurling over country), in which the inhabitants of two cities had to take the ball to the opponent’s square in a field of equal distance.

This is how hurling at goals emerged later on, in an attempt to apply more civilized rules in order to make the game less aggressive. A key point for the development of the sport as we know today happened in 1840, when football was introduced in the public schools of Britain.

Hand Touches were Banned in Football

Each educational institution had their own way of perceiving football, which did not yet have unified rules. This is also how another sport have emerged: Rugby, by disrespecting some of the rules of the former game of ball.

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Rugby went their separate ways from football, although many people at the time could not differentiate them very well. As some clubs wanted a clearer separation, and the schools wanted less violent students, the rules were changed so that football was now played with only feet (with the exception of the goalkeeper).

When did Modern Football Soccer emerge?

History of Football Soccer

In 1855, the first football club came out in an English county located in Sheffield, creating its own rules for the sport. The Football Association (FA) was born in 1863, and in 1886 the International Football Association Board (IFAB) was founded, in London.

The FA was responsible for regulating the rules of the game based on the rules drawn up by Sheffield (1857) and by the University of Cambridge (1862). They have also created the FA Cup in 1871, the first and oldest football tournament, currently in its 137th edition.

It was established that the number of players would be 11, that the net would be placed in the goalposts, the inclusion of referees (who “whistled” by shouting), the introduction of the penalty and several other measures that had the purpose of making the game more organized.

Who Invented Football (Soccer)?

Although the English were not the creators of football itself, it can be said that they were responsible for the elaboration of the rules of the game that defined the sport, as we know today, in the nineteenth century.

Professional Football (Soccer)

Football has made rapid progress. The sport was added, in an amateur way, in the Olympic Games of 1920. In order to regulate the practitioners of football in the world, it was founded, in 1904, FIFA (International Federation of Association Football).

The beginning of the process of making football a professional sport led to the creation of the World Cup (1930), idealized by Jules Rimet. The organization is responsible for the associations of football, beach football, futsal and other related organizations.


DUARTE, Orlando. Futebol: história e regras. (Football history and rules) São Paulo: Markron Books, 1994.

FIFA. History of Football – The Origins. Available at: <>. Access in: 22/01/2018

FOOTBALL HISTORY. Football history. Available at: <>. Access in: 22/01/2018


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