Soccer (or football as it is known in Europe and many parts of the world) has a history which can be traced back for thousands of years. Interestingly enough, one of the earliest versions was a sport known as Phaininda that the ancient Greeks played as early as the fourth century BCE. Similarly, another form called Episkyros was also enjoyed during this time. An image of a man partaking in this activity can be seen on the trophy of the UEFA European Championship. Some historians claim that the Roman game of Harpastum was merely a modified version of the other two sports. This would seem to make sense, for the Romans had a tendency to adopt many traditions from older cultures and those which they had conquered.
A Chinese Connection?
Another viable interpretation can be found in a sport known as Cuju. This version was played in ancient China. The reason that FIFA claims Cuju is the closest descendant of modern football is due to the rules which were employed. The use of hands was not allowed and much like its modern variant, the ball was to be kicked into the net of an opposing team. Similar early forms of this game could be seen in Japan (Kemari), Korea (Chuk-Guk) and even in Australia (Woggabaliri). However, it is widely recognized that the form of football today was not influenced by any other cultures outside of Europe. The United Kingdom soon became the veritable “breeding ground” for more refined versions of football and subsequent governance was required.
Most of the features of present-day football can be traced back to the middle of the nineteenth century with the inclusion of what were known as the Cambridge Rules. These were first written in 1848 at Trinity College and greatly influenced association norms (which continue into present times). There was nonetheless the problem that many independent football clubs would adopt their own set of regulations.
This was addressed with the formation of the Football Association (FA) in 1863. Thirteen “laws” of the game were agreed upon and later ratified. Soon after, the oldest known official football competition was held in 1872. This was followed by the first football league in 1888. Many of the oldest football clubs are still competing till this day!
After these first steps were taken, it was not long before other regions within the United Kingdom began to follow suit. Perhaps the most notable advancement was the formation of FIFA in 1904 after a meeting in Paris. This further solidified the rules of the sport and international teams soon decided to join the organization. As admittance was dependent upon following the aforementioned rules, football gained a rather universal quality.
In modern times, football (soccer within the United States) is enjoyed by countless millions of aficionados from across the globe. Most countries boast an official team and competitions such as the World Cup are some of the most recognized in the world. Indeed, football shows no signs of slowing down in this century.