Football, or soccer to some, is no doubt the most celebrated and loved sport around the world. Sure, there are many others that rank high in the list but this ball game claims the top spot without a shadow of a doubt. How it came to be is a long and winding story but we’ll try to tell it in as best as we can.
Evidence from various sources prove that many versions of “kicking” games were already present in many of the early civilizations.
In China, military forces during the Han Dynasty enjoyed a game called “Tsu Chu” that involved a fur or feather-stuffed leather ball. The aim was to kick it into a small net fixed onto bamboo canes. Even Japan had an early version of it called the “Kemari”. In Egypt, the tomb of Baqet III portrayed images of women enjoying a similar game. Greece n the other hand called theirs the “Episkyros” where the ball was to be thrown overhead the other team.
It was not until the 700s when a version of the sport developed in Europe. Legend has it that after winning a war, locals of an east English town celebrated by kicking and passing the severed head of a Danish prince they defeated. It was a very violent act that often resulted in injury and commotion. But not long after, the practice was abolished and lost.
Historians however validated that early English townsfolk would play a game similar to today’s football. It often involved an inflated pig’s bladder, sometimes covered in leather, which was to be passed around without the use of hands. There were no official rules or number of players and the only objective was to bring the ball to the goal. It became so popular that massive numbers of people would come to play even in public places and roads. At times, the number of players would be so huge that the matches often end up in brawls.
Football became so popular that in the 1300s, King Edward II forbade it in all of England. He feared that people would lose interest in practicing and honing archery, something that would prove to be detrimental in the war against Scotland. Still, people found ways to play the game. It wasn’t until the 1605 that it officially became legal again.
It was only in 1848 in Cambridge, where the first formal rules about football were drafted. This involved the rules and standards regarding goal kicks, throw-ins and goalie’s rights. The rest, as they say, is history.