Complete History of Football

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History of Football


Football is the most famous sport in the whole world. It is popular is almost all parts of the world; however it may have different names in different locations. The real name of the sport is ‘Association Football’ and it is often simply known as Football. In the United States, however, the same game is known as ‘Soccer’. As the name may itself suggests, this game is played with the help of feet. Each of the two teams consist of eleven players each and only one player from each side, known as goalkeeper, is allowed to touch the ball with hand. This was the basic introduction of the game and most people are already aware of these basic rules. On the other hand, very few people are aware of the history of football. This article tries to focus on this point and sheds light on some of the important historical events in the sport of the football.

Early history:

Systematic and centrally organized football might have started later on but various early versions of the same game can be traced back to ancient Greek and Roman times. Some traces of similar games are also found in 3rd BC in China during the Han dynasty. However, it was the region of England where modern football started to grow as a proper sport. The game increasingly became popular during the 12th and 13th centuries. However, at the same time there were incidents when people got overwhelmed by their emotions and the game was turned into violence. There are some evidences that Kind Edward III ordered to ban football because of continuously growing violence reports. However, the sport continued to be played between people at local level and with varying degree of rules and regulations.

Towards proper recognition:

Even though football remained popular throughout all these centuries, but it was in mid-19th century when efforts were made to standardize the sport and make rules at international level. In fact, football had already become greatly popular in most colleges and universities in England by 18th century. In 1848, Trinity College of Cambridge University devised various rules for football. It was the first instance in the history that proper rules were drawn at higher level. These basic rules and codes greatly helped the game of football to get further recognition at international level and devise further rules and regulations for the sport. The chain of events continued and ‘The Football Association’ was formally established in the year 1863.

First International Football match:

Development and progress continued throughout the latter half of 19th century. Part of these developments was the match between England and Scotland in 1872. This was the first international football match between any teams and it was governed according to newly formed football rules and regulations. It was the date of 30th November 1872 when approximately 4,000 spectators witnessed the first international football match, played between the teams of England and Scotland. This match was played in Hamilton Crescent, Partick, Scotland.

Robert Gardner captained the Scottish team while the captain of England football team was Cuthbert Ottaway. The match ended in draw, with no team being able to score even a single goal in the whole match.

First football League:

Again it is England who has the credit to start first ever football league in the world. ‘The Football League’ was founded in Birmingham by William McGregr in the year 1888. Originally, 12 clubs used to play in only one division and the winner of first season was Preston North End. Throughout these one hundred and twenty-seven years, the league went through few phases and remains equally popular today. In fact, this football league is the most famous football league today.

Currently there are total of 72 clubs in this league. These clubs are divided into three different divisions. Manchester United and Liverpool have been the most successful teams until now with the total of 22 titles.



In 1886, IFAB (International Football Association Board) was formed to oversee the process of determining Association Football rules. However, Federation Internationale De Football Association (FIFA) was established in 1904 and it was announced that FIFA would be responsible for making laws for the game. The IFAB also consisted of four FIFA representatives. With growing popularity and increased participation, it was felt that there should be one supreme body which supervises the whole sport at international level.

Today, FIFA has attained the position of international supervisory body for football and also organizes various international football events, such as football world cup. FIFA is also responsible for promotion of the sport.

Some important laws and regulations:

Following are some of the basic but important laws and regulations related to football.

  • Each team consists of 11 players. However, substitutes are also allowed.
  • According to international standards, an approximate length of pitch for a football match is 110 to 120 yards and 70 to 80 yards in width.
  • A spherical ball with circumference of 27 to 28 inches is used. The weight of this ball ranges from 14 to 10 Oz.
  • Each match consists of two halves of 45 minute each. Extra time can be awarded to both teams in the event of a drawn match.
  • Extra time is usually given in knockout matches, where deciding a winner is necessary.
  • Some of the important terminology includes Kick-off, Corner Kick, Penalty Kick, Direct free kick and indirect free kick.
  • Various kind of protective material is encouraged to use to save players from any likely injury during a match.
  • Any act of football player during a match may be considered as foul if it is against the laws of the sport. In such events, referee has the authority to issue yellow or red cards, depending upon the nature of the foul.

World Cups:


Just like most other sports, world cup is also organized every four years for football. The international event of football world cup is organized by FIFA and its history is almost 80 years old. First FIFA World Cup was organized in 1930 in Uruguay. 13 teams took place in this international event and Uruguay beat Argentina by 4-2 to become the first football world champion. The United States remained at third position.

Since then, FIFA World Cups have had been organized constantly with the gap of four years, except for 1942 and 1946. World Cup couldn’t be organized in these two years due to World War 2. So far 20 FIFA World Cups have been played and Brazil remained the most successful team with 5 World Cup titles. Overall, 20 football World Cups remained with 8 different teams. Brazil won this title for 5 times, Germany and Italy for 4 times, Argentina and Uruguay for 2 times and France, Spain and England won FIFA World Cup for one time each.

The latest international football World Cup was held last year in 20104 in Brazil. It was 5th consecutive World Cup when 32 international teams participated. Germany beat Argentina by 1-0 to become football world champion for the fourth time in history. Netherlands remained third, while the host Brazil secured fourth position in the event.

IF we talk about some other World Cup records, Antonio Carbajal (Mexico) and Lothar Matthaus (Germany) have played the most number of these mega events, which is 5 times. Similarly, Lothar Matthaus made 25 appearances, which are maximum in football World Cups by any player. On the other hand, Mirsolav Klose holds the record of scoring maximum goals. He has so far scored 16 World Cup goals, while Ronaldo has scored 15.

Football in Present world:


Today, football remains equally popular throughout the world. It is watched and played in most parts of Asia, Europe, Arab and America. It has various variants, such as indoor soccer, beach soccer and futsal. Numerous domestic and local events are held everywhere in the world to promote and encourage the football. Events for children and women players are also held frequently at different levels.

FIFA has 6 subordinate bodies to supervise matters confined in different continents. These six bodies represent six different continents, such as AFC (Asian football Confederation) and UEFA (Union of European Football Association). It has been estimated recently that total football fans around the world account for at least half of the total world’s population, i.e. 3.5 billion.


Football is the most popular individual game in the present world. It is also known as soccer or Association football. The history of football can be dated back to 3 BC. Evidences are also found that different versions of football were popular in various ancient civilizations, including Greek, Roman and China. However, standard rules and laws related to this game were formulated in the 19th century and since then it has seen huge popularity at international level. Federation International De Football Association (FIFA ) is the main supervisory and controlling body for football. Various leagues, domestic tournament and international events (such as FIFA World Cup) are held. Germany is the current defending champion of football at international level.

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