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History of Soccer
As you probably know, soccer is the most played, watched, and televised sport in human history. According to FIFA (International Football Federation), currently 270 million people actively participate in the game of football. (That’s about 4% of the world’s population) So why has this sport become so interesting to me and to people? What is the history behind this event?
Football, referred to in Wikipedia as “association football”, is a sport with roots dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Its earliest form is found in China; a game called “cuju”. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, officially announced that China was the birthplace of the game in 2004.
In recent decades, many other sports have been observed in other regions of the world, such as “Harpastum” (Roman), “Kemari” (Japan) and “Knatleikr”. (Iceland) These games were certainly very different from modern football. It was only in the 19th century that various forms of football became an organized event, played mainly by the prestigious English public schools. When Thomas Arnold (head of the ‘Rugby School’) helped establish the first standard rules for rugby, the sport improved greatly.
In rugby, they allowed players to hit the opponent’s legs below the knee (which was banned in later years), handling the ball was also allowed. Following this development, football and rugby were separated in December 1863. The modern game of football in England originated 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 where he emphasized the importance of a governing body for football. After establishing the FA, he established the “Laws of Football” which governed the rules by which the game is played today. On January 9, 1864, the first exhibition football match was played at Battersea Park. In just eight years, the FA had 50 member clubs and grew rapidly, allowing the competition to emerge in 1972. The FA Cup is the premier football competition and is considered the most prestigious competition in England. “Wanderers” were the first team to defeat the winner of the cup “Royal Engineers” with a score of 1:0.
With the help of British influence, football gradually became popular in other countries. Only in 1889 other countries (Netherlands and Denmark) adopted this amazing game. Football has grown 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 games and had seven founding members (France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). The first international football competition was established at the Summer Olympics in London in 1908, 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) put an end to the growing sport, which resumed in the years after the war. Until 1950, FIFA had 51 member countries. Before the World Cup (the most prestigious soccer competition), FIFA organized a soccer tournament as part of the Summer Olympics. In 1930, FIFA administered its tournament in Uruguay; the host country is the first football team to win the cup, which will be the most watched compared to any other professional competition today.
Soccer is a highly developed sport today, with 208 national teams recognized by FIFA, in addition to thousands of club teams competing for global supremacy in various leagues and cups. Sports have become an addiction for many people around the world, helping nations and people come together as they cheer on their team, hoping that one day their team will bring home a trophy. The future of soccer always has room for improvement, and hopefully interest in the US will continue to grow as it has elsewhere. “Fair-play” is the name of the game.
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