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Ken Aston Referee Society ~ Football Encyclopedia Bible
Who Invented Soccer?
By... Andrew Castiglione
Founder of Ken Aston Referee Society
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There are a number of conflicting beliefs concerning the question of who invented soccer. Some suggest that the history of soccer dates back as far as 2500BC, during which time the Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese all appear to have partaken in feet-based games involving a ball.

Most of these games included the use of hands, feet and even sticks to control a ball. The Roman game of ‘Harpastum’ was a possession based ball game where each side would attempt to retain possession of a small ball for as long as possible. The Ancient Greeks competed in a similar game entitled ‘Episkyros’, but both of these pursuits reflected rules closer to rugby than modern day soccer.

The most relevant of these ancient games to our modern day ‘Association Football’ is the Chinese game of ‘Tsu-Chu’ or ‘kick ball’ as it translates. Records of the game begin during the Tsin Dynasty (255-206BC) and represent a game in which soldiers competed in a training activity featuring a leather ball being kicked into a net strung between two poles. The main difference between Tsu-Chu and soccer was the height of the goal, which hung about 30 feet from the floor.

From the introduction of Tsu-Chu onwards, soccer-like games spread throughout the world, with many cultures having activities that centered on the use of their feet. The Native Americans had ‘Pahsaherman’, the Indigenous Australians ‘Marn Grook’ and the Moari’s ‘Ki-o-rahi’ to name a few.

Soccer began to evolve in modern Europe from the 9th century onwards and in England entire towns would kick a pig’s bladder from one landmark to another. The game was often seen as a nuisance and was even banned for some periods of Britain’s history.

The codification of soccer began in the public schools of Britain at the beginning of the 16th century. Within the private school system ‘football’ was a game in which the hands were used during periods of play and grappling allowed but otherwise the modern shape of soccer was being formed. Two bar less goals were placed at each end, goalkeepers and tactics were introduced and high tackles outlawed.

The rules and regulations continued to evolve in Britain and by the 1700s dedicated soccer clubs began to emerge, playing matches against one another. During this time these sides were still allowed to use their hands during play and were only permitted to pass the ball backwards, meaning there was still quite someway to go in producing the modern game of soccer we see today.

It was finally the Football Association (from which the term soccer derives) who attempted to bring together the different codes and systems across Britain to form one accepted set of soccer rules in 1863. Soon after the FA rules were agreed, the first official soccer match took place in Battersea Park, London, featuring many of the top players.

From that point on soccer flourished in Britain, with the Football Association Cup being introduced 12 years later and the foundation of the Football League in 1888. At the same time soccer clubs began to spread throughout Europe, with Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland all having Association football clubs by 1880. By the turn of the 20th century many European countries had formed their own soccer leagues and competed in international games between rivaling nations.

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) reflected an international agreement between codes and countries and was formed in 1904. In 1930 the first ever FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay and has remained the pinnacle of the soccer world ever since.

History Of Soccer
Soccer History

Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Europe and the Americas. It has a vivid and interesting history in the world of sports. Early evidence of soccer being played as a sport finds occurrence in China during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. In China, it was during the Han dynasty that people dribbled leather balls by kicking it into a small net. Recorded facts also support the fact that Romans and Greeks used to play ball for fun and frolic. Some facts point to Kyoto in Japan where kicking of ball was a popular sport.

It is said that early growth of the modern soccer started in England. Some amusing facts even mention that the first ball used was the head of some Danish brigand. It is said that during medieval times, the old form of soccer used to allow many ill practices like kicking, punching, biting and gouging. The main aim was to carry the ball to a target spot. People grew so fond of the game that they would throng the field all day long. Sometimes the competition grew fierce and masses got so wild that there were frequent incidents of violence during the game. It is also said that soldiers admired the game so much that they missed archery practice to watch it.

King Edward III banned soccer in 1365 owing to the growing incidents of violence and military indulgence in the sport. In 1424 King James I of Scotland also proclaimed in the Parliament— "Na man play at the Fute-ball" (No man shall play football)

When and where exactly did soccer start is a question that has no precise answer to it. You can easily say that this popular game has been played for more than three thousand years. The nativity of modern-day soccer must be credited to Britain. It was also known as the association football, with Scotland and England being the co-founders of the systematic game of soccer.

Modern History of Soccer: 18th Century onwards

In 1815, a major development took place that made soccer popular in Universities, Colleges and Schools. The popular English School and Eton College came forth with a set of rules, known as the Cambridge Rules. Football was segregated into two groups; some colleges and schools opted for Rugby rules that allowed tripping, shin kicking and also carrying the ball. These rules were exclusively prohibited as per the Cambridge rules.

The history of modern-day soccer was established in 1863. In October 1863, eleven representatives from London clubs and schools met at the Freemason’s Tavern to set up common fundamental rules to control the matches amongst themselves. The outcome of this meeting was the formation of the Football Association. In December 1863, the Rugby Football and Association football finally split as the supporters of the Rugby School rules walked out.

Firmly establishing the foundation of soccer in 1869, the Football Association strictly banned any kind of handling of the ball. Soccer’s popularity spread rapidly during the 1800s as British sailors, traders and soldiers introduced the sport to different parts of the globe.

Italians, Austrians and Germans drew to Europe, while Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil adopted the sport in South America. FIFA was established in the year 1904 and by early 1930s, different leagues were operating from various countries. FIFA is credited with organizing the first world cup in Uruguay. The history of soccer is rich with events, development and its growing craze all over the world. You will find yourself amazed as you learn about different times of this wonderful sport that has held our awe and admiration for over 3000 years.

Women in Soccer
Women Soccer

Women soccer history has interesting turns and twists starting all the way in Europe. The urban form of soccer set up by the Football Association in 1863 in London was a male sport played by all ages of men and was popularised as men’s favorite pastime.

Some historians mention casual competitions in Scotland and parts of England of soccer matches between married and unmarried women during late 19th century. By early 20th century, you could see women playing the game seriously in different parts of Great Britain, France and Canada. Some facts point that in Central Europe, competitive soccer was not uncommon. Such games were often played without compliance with the civil and church authorities.

One of the popular records of the game comes from the Boxing day in 1920, at Goodison Park in Liverpool. A spectacular game took place on England’s biggest soccer ground where Dick, Kerr Ladies played with a Lancashire team called St. Helen Ladies in front of a crowd of 53,000 people. It is noted that more than ten thousand fans had to be locked out when the ground became fully occupied.

The crowd size on that day was seen as a major threat at the headquarters of Football Association in London. In 1921, the influential central body of the game set a ban on women for playing soccer for an incredible period of 50 years. The repercussions could be seen immediately as this decision crippled women soccer players in a few countries. However, Italy and France established women’s leagues in early 1930s. Women soccer remained latent until World War II. After the war, the graph took an upward turn with Italy establishing its national association in 1950 and Germany organizing the first informal women European championship in 1957. Northern European countries were also part of the development, especially Norway and Sweden.

Soccer for women in England saw a decline owing to the ban, which was much criticized for its anachronism all over Europe. By the time the ban was lifted, almost 35 countries had their national leagues and international competition was in its bloom.

Soccer for women in the US

The first few decades of the 20th century saw women soccer being restricted to casual gym classes, games and college competitions. Unlike men’s soccer history, most women soccer had its prime growth at the college and university level. In 1951, the first women’s league was established and things changed from then on. The Craig Club Girls Soccer League had four teams and played complete schedules for two seasons. This is considered as the changing point in the history of women soccer. Although, it took around a decade before the soccer was included as a serious game in colleges.

The beginning of 20th century saw US women soccer gain high popularity and international acclaim. The sport made a late start-up in the US compared to Europe, which had women leagues way back in 1930s. Serious and organized form of soccer in the US started in 1970s, a trigger produced by Title IX Legislation of 1972 that made gender equality mandatory in education. The game widely spread during early 1980s through varsity college teams. However, it is interesting to note that the first national women’s league was established very recently in 1995. And even more amusing is the fact that the first professional women’s league took birth a few years back in 2001.

History of Football - The Origins

The contemporary history of the world's favorite game spans more than 100 years. It all began in 1863 in England, when rugby football and association football branched off on their different courses and the Football Association in England was formed - becoming the sport's first governing body.

Both codes stemmed from a common root and both have a long and intricately branched ancestral tree. A search down the centuries reveals at least half a dozen different games, varying to different degrees, and to which the historical development of football has been traced back. Whether this can be justified in some instances is disputable. Nevertheless, the fact remains that people have enjoyed kicking a ball about for thousands of years and there is absolutely no reason to consider it an aberration of the more 'natural' form of playing a ball with the hands.

On the contrary, apart from the need to employ the legs and feet in tough tussles for the ball, often without any laws for protection, it was recognised right at the outset that the art of controlling the ball with the feet was not easy and, as such, required no small measure of skill. The very earliest form of the game for which there is scientific evidence was an exercise from a military manual dating back to the second and third centuries BC in China.

This Han Dynasty forebear of football was called Tsu' Chu and it consisted of kicking a leather ball filled with feathers and hair through an opening, measuring only 30-40cm in width, into a small net fixed onto long bamboo canes. According to one variation of this exercise, the player was not permitted to aim at his target unimpeded, but had to use his feet, chest, back and shoulders while trying to withstand the attacks of his opponents. Use of the hands was not permitted.

Another form of the game, also originating from the Far East, was the Japanese Kemari, which began some 500-600 years later and is still played today. This is a sport lacking the competitive element of Tsu' Chu with no struggle for possession involved. Standing in a circle, the players had to pass the ball to each other, in a relatively small space, trying not to let it touch the ground.

The Greek 'Episkyros' - of which few concrete details survive - was much livelier, as was the Roman 'Harpastum'. The latter was played out with a smaller ball by two teams on a rectangular field marked by boundary lines and a centre line. The objective was to get the ball over the opposition's boundary lines and as players passed it between themselves, trickery was the order of the day. The game remained popular for 700-800 years, but, although the Romans took it to Britain with them, the use of feet was so small as to scarcely be of consequence.

From 1863 to the Present Day

Football has come a long way since its first laws were drawn up in London in 1863. That historic meeting at the Freemasons' Tavern led not only to the foundation of the Football Association but, moreover, to the game's inaugural set of common rules.

Although undergraduates at Cambridge had made an earlier attempt to achieve a uniform standard in the late 1840s - albeit still allowing the ball to be caught - it was not until 1863 that football, a sport played down the centuries in often-violent village contests and then embraced in the early 1800s by the English public schools, had a fixed rulebook.

One club represented at the Freemasons' Tavern, Blackheath, refused to accept the non-inclusion of hacking (kicking below the knee) and subsequently became a founder of the Rugby Football Union. However, the 11 others reached an agreement and, under the charge of one Ebenezer Cobb Morley, 14 laws were soon penned for a game that would, in the following century, become the most played, watched and talked about activity on the planet.

Original offside rule
The offside rule formed part of the original rules in 1863 but it was a far remove from the law as we know it today. Any attacking player ahead of the ball was deemed to be offside - meaning early tactical systems featured as many as eight forwards, as the only means of advancing the ball was by dribbling or scrimmaging as in rugby. In the late 1860s, the FA made the momentous decision to adopt the three-player rule, where an attacker would be called offside if positioned in front of the third-last defender. Now the passing game could develop.

Despite the unification of the rules and the creation of the FA in 1863, disputes, largely involving Sheffield clubs who had announced their own set of ideas in 1857, persisted into the late 1870s. However, the creation of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) finally put an end to all arguments. Made up of two representatives from each of the four associations of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland), the IFAB met for the first time on 2 June 1886 to guard the Laws of the Game. Then, as today, a three-quarters majority was needed for a proposal to be passed.

Gradual changes
In those early years, the game gradually assumed the features we take for granted today. Goal-kicks were introduced in 1869 and corner-kicks in 1872. In 1878 a referee used a whistle for the first time. Yet there was no such thing as a penalty up until 1891. In the public schools where modern football originated, there was an assumption that a gentleman would never deliberately commit a foul. Amid the increased competitiveness, however, the penalty, or as it was originally called 'the kick of death', was introduced as one of a number of dramatic changes to the Laws of the Game in 1891.

Penalties, of course, had to be awarded by someone and following a proposal from the Irish Association, the referee was allowed on to the field of play. True to its gentlemanly beginnings, disputes were originally settled by the two team captains, but, as the stakes grew, so did the number of complaints.

By the time the first FA Cup and international fixture took place, two umpires, one per team, were being employed to whom each side could appeal. But it was not the ideal solution as decisions were often only reached following lengthy delays. The referee, at first, stood on the touchline keeping time and was 'referred' to if the umpires could not agree but that all changed in 1891.

Referees introduced
From that date a single person with powers to send players off as well as give penalties and free-kicks without listening to appeals became a permanent fixture in the game. The two umpires became linesmen, or 'assistant referees' as they are called today. Also during that meeting in Scotland, the goal net was accepted into the laws, completing the make-up of the goal after the introduction of the crossbar to replace tape 16 years previously.

With the introduction of rules, the features of the football pitch as we know it slowly began to appear. The kick-off required a centre spot; keeping players ten yards from the ball at kick-off, brought the centre circle. It is interesting to note that when the penalty came in 1891, it was not taken from a spot but anywhere along a 12-yard line before 1902.

The 1902 decision to award penalties for fouls committed in an area 18 yards from the goal line and 44 yards wide, created both the penalty box and penalty spot. Another box 'goal area', commonly called the 'six-yard-box', six yards long and 20 wide, replaced a semi circle in the goalmouth. However it was not for another 35 years that the final piece of the jigsaw, the 'D' shape at the edge of the penalty area,

Football fast became as popular elsewhere as it had been in Britain and in May 1904, FIFA was founded in Paris with seven original members: France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain (represented by Madrid FC), Sweden and Switzerland. There was some initial disquiet in the United Kingdom to the idea of a world body governing the sport it had created rules for, but this uncertainty was soon brushed aside. Former FA board member Daniel Burley Woolfall replaced Frenchman Robert Guérin as FIFA President in 1906 - the year the FA joined - and in 1913 FIFA became a member of the IFAB.

In the restructured decision-making body, FIFA was given the same voting powers as the four British associations put together. There remained eight votes and the same 75 per cent majority needed for a proposal to be passed, but instead of two each, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland now had one, while FIFA was given four.

On the field of play, the number of goals increased aided by the 1912 rule preventing goalkeepers from handling the ball outside the penalty area and another in 1920 banning offside's from throw-ins. In 1925, the three-player offside rule became a two-player one, representing another radical change that propelled the game further forward.

Rous rewrites the Laws
By the late 1930s it was felt that the Laws of the Game, now totaling 17, required a makeover. The original Laws had been penned in the language of Victorian England and since then, there had been more than half a century of changes and amendments. Hence the task given to Stanley Rous, a member of the IFAB and the official who first employed the diagonal system of refereeing, to clean the cobwebs and draft the Laws in a rational order. The Englishman, who would become FIFA President in 1961, did such a good job that not until 1997 were the Laws revised for as second time.

Despite football's phenomenal popularity, there was a general agreement in the late 1980s that the Laws of the Game should be fine-tuned in the face of defensive tactics. If fan violence was a serious off-the-pitch problem during that period, then on it the increasingly high stakes meant a real risk of defensive tactics gaining the upper hand.

Hence a series of amendments, often referred to as for the 'Good of the Game', which were designed to help promote attacking football. They began with the offside law in 1990. The advantage was now given to the attacking team. If the attacker was in line with the penultimate defender, he was now onside. In the same year, the 'professional foul' - denying an opponent a clear goal-scoring opportunity - became a sending-off offence.

Back-pass rule changed
Despite these changes, tactics during the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ suggested something more needed to be done. The IFAB responded in 1992 by banning goalkeepers from handling deliberate back-passes. Although the new rule was greeted with skepticism by some at first, in the fullness of time it would become widely appreciated.

The game's Law-makers then struck another blow against cynicism in 1998 when the fierce tackle from behind became a red-card offence. With a new century approaching, the commitment to forward-thinking football could not have been clearer.
1863: The Cambridge Rules are rewritten to provide the game's first uniform regulations.
1866: The offside law is changed to allow players to be onside provided there are three players between the ball and the goal.
1882: The associations in Great Britain unify their rules and form the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to control the laws of the game.
1886: The first official meeting of the IFAB takes place.
1891: Introduction of the penalty-kick.
1913: FIFA becomes a member of the IFAB.
1925: Amendment of the offside rule from three to two players.
1938: The present Laws of the Game are framed in a new system of codification, based on the Laws previously in force.
1958: Substitutes are permitted for the first time, albeit only for an injured goalkeeper and one other injured player.
1970: The system of red and yellow cards is introduced for the 1970 FIFA World Cup ™ finals.
1990: The offside law is changed in favour of the attacker, who is now onside if level with the penultimate defender.
1992: Goalkeepers are forbidden from handing back-passes.
1994: The technical area is introduced into the Laws of the Game, with the Fourth Official following the next year.
1996: Linesmen are renamed Assistant Referees.
1997: The Laws are revised.
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