In honour of the World Cup Semi Finals this Tuesday, I thought I would give you all a quick lesson on the history of organised football!
There is evidence that ball games have been played since 300 BC, with FIFA (the Federation Internationale de Football Association) claiming the ancient game of “cuju” to be the first official football-type sport.
“Cuju” was a militaristic game played in 2nd Century BC China, with very different rules to modern football but a similar player formation and crescent-shaped goals creating a pitch.
This game has since evolved worldwide, and today has many different variations across the globe.
The UK variation became popular in the Middle Ages. This new “football” game may be familiar with some of you already – called “mob football” and played between villages, a pig’s bladder was inflated and used as a ball. Played to celebrate occasions such as Christmas, it was very popular with communities.
Historians are not sure whether or not the ball was kicked at this stage, as although the game was known as “foot” ball, accounts describe players hitting and throwing the ball rather than just kicking it.
Over time, the “mob” element of British football was eliminated and through the English Private School system, football became an organised team sport.
Modern football was established around 1519, with more defined rules than previous variations, although still constantly changing, with the first offside rule introduced in the late 1700’s.
Schoolchildren were still at the forefront of developing modern football, as 1780 marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the UK, and with most adults working full time, only children at school could play lengthy sports. However, the Industrial Revolution brought benefits for children in other ways too, inter-school competitions occurred more often as rail travel had improved making it easier for matches between schools to occur.
The first official organised Football Association was formed in 1888, the Football League. Teams in England were officially documented and football became a more professional sport.
In 1922, the top 22 clubs in the Football League split to form the Premier League, the most renowned football competition in the UK. It is currently the most watched league in the world, and broadcast in 212 countries.
FIFA was founded in 1904 to bring the world together to play football in one “World Cup”. This idea was well received and in 1930, the first world cup was held in Uruguay.
As the organiser of the world championships, FIFA reserves the right to change or pass judgement on the modern football rules and regulations. When world football was suggested, all the different variations of the sport had to be taken into account to create one ultimate football game. The current game is based quite heavily on the old English football rules, established at Cambridge University in 1862, which in turn evolved from medieval football, however there are still elements of the game from other world cultures.
I hope you enjoyed this (slightly longer than I intended) history of football, so now go and enjoy the World Cup!