Modern soccer (or football) was born in 1863 when the English Football Association was founded yet the roots of the game stretch back centuries. The very earliest form of the game for which there is scientific evidence was an exercise from a military manual dating back to the second and third centuries BC in China, which was known as cuju.
During the Ts’in and Han Dynasties (255 BC-220 AD), the Chinese played ‘tsu chu’, in which animal-skin balls were dribbled through gaps in a net stretched between two poles. Certain ancient Egyptian rites are said by historians to have similarities with soccer, and both the ancient Greeks and Romans also played a game that entailed carrying and kicking a ball.
According to pre-medieval legend, an entire village would kick a skull along a path to a nearby village square. The opposing village would in turn attempt to kick the skull to the first village’s square. Wow, that probably caused more riots than in modern soccer games.
According to historical references, early balls ranged from human heads, stitched up cloth, animal and human skulls to pig or cow bladders. In 1855, Charles Goodyear designed and built the first vulcanized rubber soccer balls and in 1862, H.J. Lindon developed one of the first inflatable rubber bladders for balls. Prior to this, balls were dependent on the size and shape of the pig’s bladder.
The rules of football were codified in England by the Football Association in 1863 and the name association football was coined to distinguish the game from the other forms of football played at the time, specifically rugby football. No matter where did football came from the fact remains that people have enjoyed kicking a ball about for thousands of years and there is absolutely no reason to consider it an aberration of the more ‘natural’ form of playing a ball with the hands.
During the very first international football match between Scotland and England in 1872, players not only wore “knickerbockers” or long pants but bobble hats or caps too. The head dresses were a normal part of the footballing attire at the time and lasted well into the 20th century.
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