Soccer, sometimes known as football, is the world’s most popular sport, enjoyed by around 250 million people in over 200 countries. The history of soccer as we know the game today, dates back to the UK during the middle of the 19th century, although similar games involving kicking a ball or another object, were being played in Japan as long ago as 1,000 BC. The ancient Greeks and Chinese also played a version of the game.
How soccer spread from Asia to the UK is not certain, but around the beginning of the 14th century, soccer was so popular in England that King Edward tried to ban the game, due to its noise and disruption. Henry VIII also tried to suppress the game, but by the late 17th century, the game was officially recognized and was being played all over the country. In 1863, an effort was made to separate the sport from rugby, organize the teams and devise a set of standard rules, with the result that the first football association was formed in the UK in 1863. The first FA cup competition in the history of soccer took place from 1871 to ’72, with a team of former public schoolboys known as the Wanderers beating the Royal Engineers 1-0. As of 2011, Manchester United has had the most FA Cup victories, with 11 wins.
Soccer began to spread to other parts of the world towards the end of the 19th century, with Argentina forming a football association in 1893, and Italy in 1898. In 1904, an important event in the history of soccer took place when FIFA (International Federation of Soccer Associations) was formed. It originally consisted of seven countries; today there are over 200 member associations. Another milestone in the history of soccer occurred when professional soccer teams were recognized for the first time in the UK in 1885. The policy was decided upon after two players from Darwin, a small Lancashire club, were paid for their time and efforts.
In 1928, the then president of FIFA, Jules Rimet, decided to organize and hold an international soccer tournament, which would become known as the World Cup. The first competition was held in Uruguay in 1930 and the host country beat Argentina by 4-2. The 1966 tournament, which was won by England, was also the first one to include extensive marketing and use an official logo. Brazil has won the World Cup five times as well as being the only country to compete in every tournament and today the competition has become one of the most watched sporting events in the world.
Although it is thought of as a man’s game, it has become increasingly popular with women as well, ever since the first official women’s match in London in 1895. An important event in the history of soccer was the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, which was held in China and won by the United States. Soccer has increased in popularity and today is played and watched in virtually every country in the world. Perhaps one reason for its popularity is the fact that no complicated or expensive equipment is required, making the game accessible to everyone.