Who invented football? Fascinating facts about the origin of soccer

Who invented football? Fascinating facts about the origin of soccer

Lewis Injai
updated at August 9, 2023 at 9:30 AM

With over four billion fans, football or soccer, as it is known in some parts of the world, is the most popular sport in the history of humankind. Who invented football? This article looks into the history of the sport.

Who Invented football?
Football or soccer is the most popular sport in the world. This article explores its origin. Photo: Anton5146 (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Pepe, Diego Maradona, Eusébio, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Christiano Ronaldo, and Zinedine Zidane are some of the top athletes the world witnessed through this sport in the course of history. This article highlights significant milestones of football, its origin, and which country is best at it.

Who invented soccer?

Modern football, or soccer as we know it today, has its rules and roots in England. It began in 1863 with Football Association laying out the rules for the game. Even though over the years, the game has evolved to its current state, it has managed to retain its overall constitution and objectives.

Before that, traces of other games that resembled the current football existed in England as early as the 9th century. However, the games were mostly played in public schools with no standard rules and were somewhat chaotic. In addition, it was mostly played with schoolboys.

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Who invented football?
A hand-coloured engraving depicting early football matches of the 19th century. Before gaining notoriety amongst adults, football was common with schoolboys. Photo: Popperfoto
Source: Getty Images

Who invented soccer in 1863?

Each club from each area had its own set of rules which often caused confusion. However, in October 1863, Ebenezer Morley, the founder of the Barnes Football Club, called for a meeting of representatives from the 12 regional clubs. They agreed on a common set of rules and formed Football Association (FA).

Which country invented football?

While looking at the history of football and attempting to answer the question of which country invented soccer first? England might be the inventor of modern football, but history shows that football existed in other parts of the world during ancient times. For example, ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, Romans, the Aboriginal people of Australia, and the Native Americans all had some game resembling football. Furthermore, some claim that football existed in ancient Greek and Rome as early as 2500 BC.

Of these ancient games, the Chinese game known as Tsu-Chu, which translates as "Kicking the ball," dating back to the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), is the one that bears close resemblance with modern football.

Which country invented football?
Aston Villa players and officials pose after winning the English FA Cup for the first time in 1887. English FA is the world's oldest running league. Photo: Bob Thomas
Source: Getty Images

How is football played?

A typical football match consists of two teams of eleven players each. They compete to get the ball into the other team's goal by scoring a goal. The team that has scored more by the end of a 90 minutes game is a winner. The match is a draw if both teams have scored an equal number of goals.

Likewise, football has a couple of primary dictates, which include:

  • No player apart from the goalkeeper can deliberately handle the ball with his hands.
  • Each team is led by a captain who has only one mandate: to represent the team in the coin toss before the kick-off of penalty kicks.
How is football Played?
The captain of each team always represents the team during a coin toss. Photo: Seb Daly
Source: Getty Images

Why do Americans call football soccer?

Football is referred to as Soccer in North America. Why is this? Contrary to the notion, the word Soccer is a British innovation and was widely used in England for the better part of the 20th century.

During the establishment of the standard rules in 1863, different games were categorized from the variations of football that existed at the time. "Rugger," the variation that allowed players to carry the ball and advance with it toward the opponent's goalpost, became Rugby Football or Gridiron, while the variation that was played under Football Association was nicknamed "Asoccer" and later soccer.

The use of the word soccer declined amongst the Brits sometime in the 1980s due to its heavy usage in America and its connotation.

What are the significant milestones of football?

Some significant changes have made it transform and reach its current state of popularity. Below are those changes and their timeline.

1863: Formation of the Football Association FA

Representatives from 12 clubs in England and public schools first met in October 1963 at the Freemasons' Tavern to establish unifying codes and regulate the game among its members. This is what led to the establishment of FA. Its first official game was organized later that year.

1900: Induction into the Olympics

Men's football debuted at the 1900 Olympics in Paris, with Britain taking home the gold medal that year. At the time, it was the first team sport to be inducted into the Olympics. The sport has been competing at every Olympics ever since, except the 1932 Los Angeles games. Women's football made its Olympic debut in 1996.

1904: Creation of FIFA

Due to its rapid growth and increase in popularity, there was a need to establish an international governing body. Delegates from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland met in Paris and came up with FIFA. The name was derived from the French words which mean International Federation of Football Association. Currently, its membership stands at 211 nations.

1930: First World Cup

In 1930 FIFA organized the first World Cup in Uruguay. It included only 13 countries, and the host ended up winning after defeating Argentina. The tournament has been held every four years ever since.

What are the significant milestones of football?
The Uruguayan national football team pose for a photo after winning the 1930 World Cup. Photo: Hulton Picture Library
Source: Getty Images

1960: First European Championship

The first European Championship was held in France to determine the ultimate continental champions. USSR (now Russia) won the first title. Over the years, the championship has evolved to be known as UEFA Championship, the most followed league globally.

Which is the best country in football?

Despite modern football being invented In Europe, the country with the best performance in its history is not from Europe. With five trophies, Brazil has the most world cup titles, is constantly ranked number one, and according to the latest FIFA ranking of October, it still sits on the top. Below is a table of the top 10:


Number of World Cup titles































What are five interesting facts about soccer?

Football has transformed significantly over the years, making it one of the most interesting sports. It has quite a number of several interesting facts, and compiling them into five is a daunting task. However, here are some interesting facts about football that I bet you never knew.

  • Earlier forms of soccer balls included animal skins, skulls, and pig bladders. However, it was only in 1855 that Charles Goodyear created the first vulcanized rubber balls.
  • The oldest professional football club in the world is Sheffield FC, founded in 1857. It is still in existence to date.
What are five interesting facts about soccer?
Sheffield players celebrate scoring an opening goal. Sheffield is the world's oldest club that is still in existence. Photo: Nigel French
Source: Getty Images
  • Greenland is not a member of FIFA and cannot play in the World Cup due to its inability to grow grass fields which is a mandatory rule for FIFA.
  • India withdrew from the 1950 World Cup because FIFA refused to let them play barefoot.
  • In 1998, a match in Congo ended tragically after lightning killed an entire team leaving members of the other team untouched.

Each sport has a history. But none of them are as fascinating as football's origins. Though the question of who invented football remains a controversial topic, with different groups claiming its origin, it remains one of the most enjoyed and financially lucrative sports on the planet.

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Sportsbrief.com recently did an article on female cricket players and ranked 15 of the best. Cricket has come a long way from it being a male-dominated sport. Women have become equally competitive as their male counterparts. In recent history, we have witnessed some female players rise to the top to stand out as the best to have ever played the sport. But who are the best?

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Lewis Injai