History of Football

The history of the ‘Beautiful Game’ goes back almost as far as human history itself. Who can claim to be the inventors of football is debatable but, as far back as the first millennia BC, the Chinese military played a game called ‘Tsu Chu,’ involving kicking a fur stuffed ball into a hole.

At roughly the same time, the Japanese played a game similar to Hacky Sack, called Kemari, with a sawdust filled ball and a designated pitch. There is even evidence of the occurrence of the first international games between the Chinese and Japanese players, although, exactly what rules they applied is open to speculation.

In Anglo Saxon Eastern England, around the Eighth Century AD, the game was brought about in characteristic hooligan style through the use of the severed head of a Danish Prince as a ball. This developed, across England, into a no holds barred, extremely rough ball game, with limited rules, where injury or even death was not uncommon.

Various incarnations of this early football spread across the British Isles until it was banned by successive monarchs, during medieval and Tudor times, due to its barbarity. Meanwhile, in Italy, a game called Calcio, or ‘Kick’ was invented in the Seventeenth Century. ‘Calcio’ is still the Italian word used for Football today.

In North America, at around the same time, Canadian Eskimos played a form of football on the ice, with goals set miles apart. In Eastern USA, Native Americans also played a game called pasuckuakohowog, which literally means ‘to play ball with the foot.’

Back in England, by the Nineteenth Century, football was again legal and had reached new levels of organisation, largely thanks to public schools, such as Eaton College and Rugby School. Rival schools began to standardise rules so that they could compete against each other.

In 1848 representatives from several schools met at Trinity College, Cambridge, to draw up the Cambridge Rules. These rules were not to prove definitive but were, none the less, influential during the incarnation of the modern game of Association Football, in 1863, when it was separated from Rugby Union Football rules.

The Football Association, or FA, was formed as a governing body to the new game, which would organise the oldest running football competition, the FA Cup. The first FA Cup final, then called the Challenge Cup, was won by Wanderers in 1872. In the same year, England and Scotland contested the first modern football international, at the Oval in London.

FIFA, the international governing body, was formed in 1904, in Paris, when it was decided to adopt the FA rules for the game worldwide. This would lead to football becoming the most popular sport in human history.

This popularity has led to huge monetary investment in the game, including multi million pound stadiums, such as Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium tours now being available to loyal fans, seeing the grounds as hallowed turf. In fact, the game is now so popular, stirring up such passion, that it is comparable with major world religions, with the grounds acting as giant temples of worship to the game.

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