Various games resembling modern football have been played at least since Roman times and probably long before in various countries around the world. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century in England that serious attempts were made to standardise the rules.

Ball games, sometimes involving hundreds of players with goals kilometres apart had been played in England since the thirteenth or fourteenth century. Edward 111, Richard 11, Henry 1V, Henry V111 and Elizabeth 1 all tried to ban such games.

In the early 1860s, a game resembling modern soccer, with eleven players on each side not being allowed to touch the ball with their hands, was being played at various centres including Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, Chester and Nottingham while rugby was played throughout much of the public school system. In October 1863, an attempt was made to create a single code from the two games by the establishment of a Football Association. The result was the irrevocable splitting of the two codes with the “soccer” group accepting the rules of “Association Football” while the rugby group formed their own “Union”.

Did You Know?

The word “soccer” is a contraction of “association” and “rugger” and was first used at Oxford.

The rules of the game were established and refined so that by 1883 the game was very little different from the modern version.

The game quickly spread from Britain. English sailors introduced it to Brazil and English engineers brought it to Russia. By 1904, when an international association (F.I.F.A.) was formed, it was being played in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Uruguay and Argentina. By 1929, F.I.F.A had 40 member countries and in 1963 the membership passed 100.

 

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