HistoryWorld

How was soccer born?

How was soccer born?
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When it comes time for the big soccer tournaments, excitement rises around the world. This is when the question of how it all began and where the roots of the world’s most popular sport lie.

Soccer – a game as old as time?

Soccer has a long history. Although its modern form emerged in England in the mid-19th century, many alternative versions of the game existed well before that and undeniably form an important part of soccer history. Of course, many of the elements that define the sport today are not found in the original games, and many may argue about the validity of linking the two, but scholars of the history of the sport recognize the common threads.

Aztec ritual games – the origin of team sports

The first records of a team game using a ball (usually made of rock, and later also of rubber) are found in ancient Mesoamerican cultures and date back to over 3,000 years ago. By the Aztec tribes, the games were called Tchatali and did not take the form of pure entertainment, but rather were part of sacred practices. According to some rituals, the ball symbolized the sun and the captain of the losing team was sacrificed to the gods.

Asian prasoccer

The first ball game, which included kicking, was practiced in China in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and was given the enigmatic name of cuju. Cuju was played with a round ball (made of leather with fur or feathers inside) on a square field. A modified form of this game then spread to other Asian territories – it reached Japan, for example, where it was practiced under the name kemari.

Native European playground

Other variations of ball games were also known in ancient Greece. Like the Chinese version, the ball was made of sewn together scraps of skin, filled with hair. However, ball games had a low status and were never included in the Panhellenic Games.

Also in ancient Rome, ball games were not counted as entertainment in large arenas and were at most military exercises under the name Harpastum. It was Roman culture, however, that brought soccer to the British Isles, where it grew to become the king of team games.

The British Isles – the birthplace of modern soccer

The most famous story says that the game was developed in England in the 12th century. Its emergence was the result of both the adoption of elements of Roman culture, as well as native improvements. On the vast grasslands of England, matches were played that resembled the soccer we know today. In addition to kicks, however, the game also involved striking the ball with the fist.

This early form of soccer was much more brutal than its current version. The frenzy of the games caused damage to towns and cities and often resulted in the deaths of participants. Because of this, many opposed the game, which was eventually banned for several centuries

Soccer returned to London for good in the 18th century, and it was then that attempts were made to systematize the sport and impose some formal framework on it. In 1863, the first official football association was formed in London. At the same time it was decided that carrying the ball with your hands was forbidden

The meeting also resulted in standardizing the size and weight of the ball. The result was a split into two distinct streams that successfully developed into their modern forms: rugby and the federation soccer we still know and love today.

Main photo: RF._.studio/pexels.com

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