Santos F.C.

History of the game

History of the game

Soccer began in 1863 in England, officially, but can be dated back to the second and third century BC in China.  In the earliest forms, it was a military exercise “called Tsu’ Chu and it consisted of kicking a leather ball filled with feathers and hair through an opening, measuring only 30-40cm in width, into a small net fixed onto long bamboo canes” (

The earliest recorded game was called Cuju in China around 206 BC to 220 AD.  There are several accounts of soccer being a disorganized sport in the British Isles from the 8th to the 19th century before becoming an organized sport.

By 1863, the first governing body began with the Football Association (FA) in England, making England the official birthplace of soccer.  In 1866, the 90-minute duration of a game was first established between London and Sheffield. 

The FA Cup is the oldest competition in the world’s game, dating back to 1872.  England is also the home of the first soccer league founded in 1888 in Birmingham.  The Laws of the Game were created in 1886 by a board of four associations including: Football Association, Scottish Football Association, Irish Football Association, and Football Association of Wales.  FIFA, the first international governance body for the sport was founded in Paris in 1904.

Theories of the game beginnings

“One theory is that the game is Anglo-Saxon in origin. In both Kingston-on-Thames and Chester, local legend has it the game was played there for the first time with the severed head of a vanquished Danish prince. In Derby, it is said to have originated in the third century during the victory celebrations that followed a battle against the Romans. Yet there is scant evidence of the sport having been played at this time, either in Saxon areas or on the continent. Indeed prior to the Norman conquest, the only trace found of any such ball game comes from a Celtic source.”

“Another theory regarding its origin is that when 'mob football' was being played in the British Isles in the early centuries AD, a similar game was thriving in France, particularly in the northern regions of Normandy and Brittany. So it is possible that the Normans brought this form of the game to England with them” (

FIFA World Cup

In 1930, the first FIFA World Cup kicked off in Uruguay.  There were 13 teams, including the United States who finished 3rd, but Uruguay won the first tournament.  The tournament expanded to 16 teams until 1978. From 1982 to 1994 the tournament was played with 24 teams until moving to the current 32 teams.  Brazil is the only team to have played in every World Cup tournament.

After 20 World Cup tournaments so far, only eight nations have won the cup.  Brazil has won the tournament the most at five times, Germany (the most recent winner) and Italy have won four times; Argentina and Uruguay have two; Spain, France and England have one.

Miroslav Klose has the most goals scored at the tournament at 16, breaking the Brazilian Ronaldo’s record of 15.

Influence on the World

There are now 207 member associations around the world with FIFA.  As of 2007, 265 millions people play soccer.

An estimated 909.6 million people watched the 2010 World Cup final with the number most likely going over a billion with online and public places.

This past 2014 World Cup Final was the most watched soccer game in U.S. history at an estimated 26.5 million people tuning in.


In most of the English-speaking world, the game is called ‘Football’ derived from Association Football.  At several universities in England, students began abbreviating association to soccer for short (coming from accoc.) and using it regularly.  Mostly North America and African English use the term soccer.  Much of the rest of the world uses the word football or a variation of football.

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