Who Invented Football? When and where this beautiful game originated

Who Invented Football

If you’re wondering who actually invented football and where the game originated, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will take a deep look at the history and origins of this beautiful game and where it started at first. Was it in Scotland, or did it all begin in England? What country invented football? What’s the correct answer? This debate has been raging for years, with many people believing it began in England and others claiming it all started in Scotland. 

So, who invented football? 

Let’s dive in!

Keep reading and learn everything you need to know about the complex history of football and its deep roots in England.

What country invented football?

It’s hard to imagine a world without football. Undoubtedly, this is the most popular sport in the world, and events like the FIFA World Cup, viewed by hundreds of millions of people, are the real pros of that fact. 

Every day I walk around my neighborhood, I see children playing football on the streets, parks, and back gardens. 

Modern football game (football as we know it today), also known as association football or soccer, took place in England by the Football Association in October 1863. Although the game’s rules have gradually changed since then, such as the implementation of VAR, football has preserved its fundamental constitution and objectives.

When was football invented?

Numerous versions of football existed prior in England and were practiced on public school grounds, but with no standardized set of rules, the games could have been more manageable.

There were different sets of rules in the past, such as the Cambridge and Sheffield rules, resulting in frequent disagreement and confusion among players.

Although no one person can claim to be the inventor of football, Ebenezer Morley has been referred to as the ‘father’ of the Football Association.

Despite not being part of the public school football community, Morley founded the Barnes Football Club, and his letter to Bell’s Life newspaper prompted the meeting that established the new regulations.

The meeting was on October 26, 1863, at the Freemasons’ Tavern on Great Queen Street in London, with representatives from 12 clubs attending to codify the sport.

FIFA governs football globally, formed in 1904, 41 years after the FA.

The IFAB (International Football Association Board) is the so-called ‘guardian’ of the Laws of the Game and is monitored by FIFA and the four British associations (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland).

Where was football invented?

Football dates back as far as 2500 BC when various civilizations such as the Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Romans played a simple game involving a ball and their feet.

One of the early forms of football was played during the Han Dynasty in China. The Chinese game Tsu-Chu – is a game where players can only use their feet to kick the ball (a leather ball) into a net hung high between two bamboo poles.

Although hand contact with the ball was forbidden, players could use other parts of their bodies to control and maneuver the ball. Tsu-Chu was documented as far back as the Han Dynasty, spanning from 206 BC to 220 AD, and could have potentially spread to other parts of the world with similar variations of ball games emphasizing the use of feet.

During ancient Greek times, there was a game similar to football called ‘episkyros.’ This game involved two teams with a single ball, where players could use their hands. The game’s name translates to ‘common ball’ and was known for being violent. In addition, the game is related somewhat to the later ancient Roman game ‘harpastum,’ which means ‘carried away.’ Many variations of games spawned across the world and changed over time. Fortunately, the FA and FIFA recognized the need for a universal standard everyone could enjoy.

It is also believed that the Aztecs may have originated the sport of football, with their team game called Tchatali dating back over 3,000 years. This ancient game was often played during rituals, where the ball symbolized the sun. Tensions were high during these games, as the losing team’s captain would be sacrificed to the gods. While the enthusiasm for football still burns bright in South America today, captains get slightly better treatment after losing!

Early football – Was the game invented in England?

Early football - Was the game invented in England?

While it’s unknown which country originated football, many claims that modern football was invented in England. Records of peasants in small towns playing with a pig’s bladder in the 9th century exist. 

During the Medieval era, the British introduced “folk ball” – the aim of the game used the feet, hands, and arms to score goals. Unlike the modern game of football on fields, the folk ball was played in unpaved meadows and roads. As a result, goals were widely spaced apart, allowing many people to participate at once. The game’s immense popularity eventually expanded beyond England’s borders, even reaching France.

Unsurprisingly, Folk football was a game characterized by violence with minimum rules for the game. The ball game was played by kicking each other’s shins, also known as “shinning,” even if they were not near the ball. Matches often became so disorderly that players and spectators would harm parts of the city and cause injuries or fatalities among participants. The Lord Mayor of London outlawed football in the early 14th century (1314) due to the disorder it caused, and anyone caught playing would be imprisoned.

Scottish influence

Many people in Scotland believe that it was the Scottish who invented the football we play to this day. In 1867, young men from Perthshire and the Highlands would gather at Queen’s Park in Glasgow. They got their hands on the FA’s regulations and made modifications by introducing a combination of passing and dribbling, which differed significantly from England’s aggressive “heads down” approach. Due to their smaller size than their English counterparts, the Scots game began using passing techniques to workaround their limited stature. However, whether this new element constitutes the invention of football remains a subject of debate.

The creation of the Football Association (FA)

In 1863, rugby football split into two distinct courses in England. The Football Association was formed on October 26, 1863, and became the world’s first football association. The idea was to combine the different codes and rules throughout the country. Specific actions during the game, such as handling the ball, shin-kicking, and tripping, were prohibited. Over time, more clubs began joining the FA, increasing the total number to 128 by 1887.

The first official game of the FA Cup was played in 1872, while some players started receiving payment from their clubs in the 1870s. Specifically, the English Football League was created in 1888, thanks to William McGregor, a Villa director. The first football clubs emerged in England in the 19th century, although the game still resembled rugby more than modern football.

Modern football

In the late 1800s, football began to spread to other parts of the world, with the Netherlands and Denmark in 1889 adopted the sport, followed by Argentina in 1893, Chile in 1895, and Switzerland and Belgium also in 1895, in addition to Italy three years later, among many other locations.

In 1904 seven representatives established the International Federation of Association Football in Paris. The inaugural World Cup transpired in Uruguay in 1930, and the rest is, as they say history. 

The first football competition

In 1871, eight years after the Football Association’s formation, the first FA Cup competition was played. Presently, the FA Cup is considered the oldest football tournament in the world. During the establishment of the FA Cup, nearly fifty soccer clubs had a membership with the Football Association.

Before the FA Cup, an international professional football match happened between Scottish and English teams in England. The attendance of this international match was so remarkable that it could be compared to the attendance of a FIFA match in the current era.

During the mid-19th century, Argentina witnessed its first international game. However, the players involved were British laborers and not natives of Argentina.

FIFA World cup

Fifa World Cup

The Summer Olympic Games and World Cup are the most awaited sports events. The inception of the FIFA Cup took place in 1930 in Uruguay and has occurred every four years since then.

While the men’s teams participate exclusively in the World Cup, the first-ever women’s World Cup was held in 1991 in China.

Over time, the count of countries participating in the World Cup qualifiers has increased remarkably. 1934 the qualifiers had 32 teams, but the number rose to 211 nations in 2014.

The World Cup is renowned for bringing nations together, resolving political conflicts, and uniting people toward a common objective.

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