Soccer, referred to in many parts of the world as football, was originally played by ancient societies in Greek, Chinese, Mayan, and Egyptian culture. These original games had few of the rules of the modern game, but involved kicking and running, making them a predecessor of today’s game. Soccer as we know it today began during the 19th century in England. The London Football Association was created in 1863 at the Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street, London, and established the first set of rules for modern soccer. Prior to that, players used the Cambridge Rules, first created in 1848 at Cambridge University. These rules were never universally adopted, but served as a guideline for the official rules that were eventually instituted.
The game was primarily played in private schools and colleges until 1871 when the Football Association Cup tournament was organized and the game spread throughout the country. The first International game was played in 1872 in Glasgow, Scotland between the English and Scottish all-star teams.
Worldwide Appeal and the World Cup
Soccer became a global sport toward the end of the 19th century. British travelers brought the sport with them when they arrived in locations around the world. By the 1930 there were professional soccer leagues in a number of countries and the first World Championship game was organized that same year, now known as the World Cup. This first World Cup tournament was played in Uruguay in celebration of the countries first constitution and their winning of the soccer title during the 1928 Summer Olympic Games. Thirteen teams participated in the tournament, which saw a final championship game won by Uruguay defeating Argentina by a score of 4 to 2. More than 93,000 people attended this championship game. This tournament takes place every four years and is of interest to even the most casual soccer fan.
Today, soccer is one of the world’s most popular sports. In addition to following teams in arenas and on television, many people play soccer and participate in leagues at the amateur level. A FIFA survey conducted in 2001 showed more than 240 million people from over 200 countries played soccer on a regular basis. The sport also attracts the highest number of television audiences globally.
Many cultures view soccer as more than just a sport. Nations pride themselves on their teams, as witnessed during the World Cup. Fans are also rabid in their adoration of teams and there are frequent stories of passionate arguments and celebrations surrounding soccer games. Some professional soccer players including Pele and David Beckham have become International superstars. In addition to their athletic prowess and talents on the soccer field, they are also hired to endorse products, participate in charity events, and work with communities to spread the joy of soccer.