The History of Football: From Ancient China to Modern England

Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, and its history dates back to ancient times. According to FIFA, modern football started in England in 1863, but records trace the history of football from more than 2,000 years to ancient China. Tsu' Chu, a Chinese military manual from the second and third centuries, is believed to be the earliest way to kick a ball. Greece, Rome and parts of Central America also claim to have started the sport; however, 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.

The English are credited with registering the first uniform rules for the sport, including a ban on tripping opponents and touching the ball with their hands. Modern football was invented in England around the 1860s, when rugby broke away from football. However, the first forms of football are recorded in the second century BC. In China, during the Han Dynasty, an ancient form of football called Tsu Chu was played. The most widely accepted story tells that the game took place in England in the 12th century.

In this century, matches that resembled football were played on meadows and roads in England. In addition to kicks, the game also involved blows with the ball with the fist. This early form of football was also much rougher and more violent than the modern way of playing. An important feature of the forerunners of football was that the matches involved many people and took place in large areas of cities (an equivalent was played in Florence since the 16th century, where it was called Calcio). The uproar of these games would cause damage to the city and, sometimes, death to the participants.

These would be some of the reasons for the proclamations against the game that was finally banned for several centuries. But football matches would return to the streets of London in the 17th century. It would be banned again in 1835, but at this stage the game had been established in public schools. 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” that was played in England and involved teams of players competing to carry a pig's bladder from one landmark to another.

Football began to evolve in modern Europe from medieval times onwards. Around the 9th century, entire peoples in England were kicking a pig's bladder from one landmark to another. The game was often seen as a nuisance and was even banned during some periods of British history. The Sheffield rules were used in football until 1877, when the rules of the Football Association were adopted. But the creation and invention of football always dates back to that time in England in 1863, when the first governing body of football was established.

Due to the vast scopes of the Roman Empire at this time, this game would have spread widely throughout much of the world known at that time, including in England, where modern football was invented. No one can be credited with the invention of football, as it was invented in English schools at the beginning of the 18th century. The FA restricted carrying the ball with their hands in open play, while stumbling and kicking shins were also prohibited in football. Choosing the right soccer ball can be difficult, especially if you haven't kicked that ball before. Once players started passing on to each other and working as a team, the game of football became more strategic. In 19th century England, rules were set and football was played by teams from private schools competing against each other.

Over time more and more England football clubs and leagues joined the FA and followed its rules of play.

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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