History of Football (Soccer)
Soccer’s obscure origin is ironic considering its popularity today. Historians tried to trace the individual who began the history of football but soccer’s very ancient origins has clouded him in mystery.
Yet historians successfully traced the cultures that first played football-like games.
To see more clearly how football began, we can divide its origins into two. First, the ancient times that goes back as old as 4, 500 years (A) and then the modern period, the immediate predecessor of the football we love today (B).
A. The Ancient Origin of Football
Historic artifacts and enduring traditions make it clear that football has been played in Egypt, Ancient China, and Rome. The game’s basic principles survived through the years and went on to be played during the medieval times.
Soccer’s Origin in Ancient Egypt
Balls made of linen have been discovered in Egyptian tombs that date way back to 2, 500 BC. Some of these balls were made from animal intestines or skin to improve their bouncing.
Based on drawings, scholars theorize that Egyptians played a football-like game during feasts of fertility.
They wrapped their balls in bright-colored cloth and kicked them around the ground to celebrate the abundance of the earth.
Approximately 2, 000 years later, a different form of football-like game appeared in China.
Football in Ancient China
Around 476 BC to 221 BC, a sport called cuju was popularly played in China. The name is roughly translated as “kick the ball with foot.” The ancient Chinese stuffed feathers inside a leather ball which they kick inside a rectangular playing field. To score a goal, they have to shoot it through a in a piece of cloth hung between two poles.
The game became so popular because it was used by military leaders as a competitive sport to keep soldiers physically fit.
As the game became more widely played, royal courts began organizing cuju matches played by professional cuju players. Teams composed of women and civilians participated in tournaments as well.