The Fascinating Journey of Football: From Ancient China to Modern Times

Football is a beloved sport that has been around for centuries. Records trace the history of football back more than 2,000 years to ancient China. Greece, Rome and parts of Central America also claim to have started the sport; but it was England that made the transition from football, or what the British and many others around the world call “football”, to the game we know today. One of the most well-known distinctions between British and American English is the fact that the sport known as football in Britain is usually referred to as football in the United States.

Because the sport originated in England, football is often assumed to be an Americanism. In reality, the word is of completely British origin. So why are Americans (not to mention Canadians, Australians, and others) more likely to use the word than the British? The answer lies in how the sport developed in each country. It is believed that the history of football dates back more than 2,000 years in China and that the sport developed from ancient games.

These games were often violent, and losers could lose their lives. Over time, these games evolved into the football game we know today. At the beginning of the 19th century in England, football and rugby existed as different variations of the same game. But in 1863, the Football Association was formed to codify the rules of football so that aristocratic children from different schools could play against each other.

In 1871, the Rugby Football Union followed suit. The two sports were officially known as Rugby Football and Association Football. Those new rules were slow to spread to the United States, where another version of the game was evolving, one that the rest of the world now knows as “football”, and is played in the NFL. On Twitter, this pride is manifested, in part, in the old tradition (at least since the 1980s) of criticizing the word football.

Modern football was invented in England around the 1860s when rugby broke away from football. However, records of earlier forms of football can be found dating back to second century BC C. In China during Han Dynasty an ancient form of football called Tsu Chu was played. The most widely accepted story tells that a similar game took place in England in 12th century.

In this century matches that resembled football were played on meadows and roads in England. In addition to kicks these early forms of football also involved blows with a ball with one's fist. This early form of football was also much rougher and more violent than modern day play. An important feature of these forerunners of football was that matches involved many people and took place in large areas of cities (an equivalent was played in Florence since 16th century where it was called Calcio).

The uproar of these games would cause damage to cities and sometimes death to participants. These would be some of the reasons for proclamations against this game which was finally banned for several centuries. But football matches would return to streets of London in 17th century and it would be banned again in 1835 but at this stage game had been established in public schools. Football began to evolve into modern Europe from medieval times onwards.

Around 9th century entire peoples in England were kicking a pig's bladder from one landmark to another. This game was often seen as nuisance and was even banned during some periods of British history. Modern football was invented in 19th century England mostly played by teams from private schools and football clubs. The game originated from a 9th-century medieval game called “popular football” which involved teams competing to carry a pig's bladder from one landmark to another.

Modern football was invented in London, England, in December 1863 when first governing body Football Association was formed which created standardized universally accepted set of rules for all teams to follow. The first mention of football in Scotland dates back to 1424 when King James I banned game because he felt it was too disruptive. In years following this multiple parliamentary laws were also passed trying to prohibit sport from being played. Over time more and more England football clubs and leagues joined FA and followed rules of play.

After this momentous occasion in 1863 when football was created sport began to spread all over world. This is where word “football” comes from “socc” abbreviated for association and “er” which was popular slang suffix at that time. Once players started passing on each other and working as team game of football became more strategic. Football grew in popularity and clubs began charging for attendance to watch matches in 1870s.

A more formal name which is sometimes used is association football but popular speech it is simply “football” or “football”.Main difference between Tsu'Chu and modern day football was height of goal which hung about 30 feet above ground. Scotland's claim about invention or origins of football is based on these facts but also on fact that oldest ball used for playing football discovered Royal Palace Stirling Castle dates back around 1540. Along with successful bid by United States to host World Cup Major League Soccer (MLS) launched 1993 currently led by USSF.


It's clear that while exact origins may be disputed one thing is certain: Football has come a long way since its humble beginnings! From ancient China through medieval Europe up until modern times, this beloved sport has been enjoyed by millions around world.

Wanda Lobdell
Wanda Lobdell

Professional food expert. Total sushi scholar. Lifelong social media practitioner. Certified food buff. General pop culture fanatic.

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