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Football is now unquestionably a global sport and the most popular in the world. Pixabay

By- Khushi Bisht

Football, also known as soccer, has a long and illustrious history. According to a global study conducted by FIFA, over 250 million individuals play soccer on a daily basis around the world. The sport has progressed from throwing a simplistic animal-skin ball around to becoming the widely played sport it is today.

Football as we know it today started in England in the mid-nineteenth century. Various forms of this sport, on the other hand, occurred way before and are recorded in football lore. Soccer dates back over 3,000 years to ancient China, according to records. The sport is also said to have originated in Greece, Rome, and portions of Central America. The ancient Mesoamerican culture is also credited with inventing a team sport involving a rock-made ball. England, on the other hand, is credited with transforming soccer into what it is today.

Ts’u-chü. Wikimedia Commons

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Ts’u-chü‘, the first recorded game that included kicking a ball, was played in China in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. It was played with a round animal-skin ball with furs stuffed inside on a square field. The aim of this game was to hit the ball into holes in a mesh that was located between two poles.

Some types of ball games can be traced back to the world’s most influential civilizations at the time like Ancient Greece around 2000 BC. ‘Episkyros’ or ‘Phaininda’, a ball game, was invented around 2000 BC. Scraps of leather were used to make the ball, which was then filled with fur. The game was mostly played by men, although women did participate on occasion. A fascinating fact is that the European Cup is engraved with a portrait of a nude Greek athlete playing ancient soccer.

Ancient Greek youth practicing with a ball depicted in low relief. Now displayed at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Wikimedia Commons

Ball games were not part of the amusement in the major arenas of Ancient Rome; instead, they were part of military drills known as ‘Harpastum.’ They are thought to have adopted the concept from the Greek game Episkyros or Phaininda and renamed it Harpastum.

Football had a completely different connotation back then than it does now. Football was played for a variety of reasons during that time period, not just for entertainment. It was still much rougher and more aggressive in its early days than it is now. In certain instances, it has acted as a religious rite or a means of preparing for a significant life event. However, it took ages for the characteristics of modern-era football to be implemented.

Harpastum, Ancient Roman Fresco (Painting). Wikimedia Commons

More laws were introduced as the sport progressed, and therefore more historic markers were established as well. The English are accredited for establishing the first dress codes for the sport and also prohibiting opponents from tripping each other and hitting the ball with their hands. William McCrum first brought the ‘penalty kick‘ to the Irish Football Association in 1890. Later, the International Football Association Board accepted it, and it was adopted into the “Laws of the Game”. During the 1970 World Cup finals, red and yellow cards were added.

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Libuše Drahovzalová (19??- after 1973), Czech women football player, goalman and pioneer (cca 1935). Wikimedia Commons

In 1913, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) joined the International Football Association Board of Great Britain. Aside from the Summer Olympic Games, no other sporting event can compare to the FIFA World Cup today. The FIFA World Cup first took place in Uruguay in 1930, and it has been held every four years ever since.

Women have long been barred from competing in sports, as has been the case with many other aspects of history. Women didn’t start playing football until the late nineteenth century. In 1888, Inverness hosted the first official women’s football game. China hosted the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, and it has hosted every four years since then.

Football is now unquestionably a global sport and the most popular in the world.



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