15 Interesting Facts About the History of Soccer

Soccer is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players. It is one of the most popular team sports all around the world, with 250 million active players playing all around the world. It is played in almost 200 countries, and the best players from each country battle it out in various competitions to determine the best team. 

Soccer has a long history since it was introduced in the 1800s and had been steadily gaining popularity. Various equipment have been made to make playing the game and training much more accessible. The ball with which soccer is played has also undergone many changes.

More about Soccer

Soccer is considered one of the most popular sports, with hundreds of millions of players playing it worldwide. It also has many fans who tune into all the competitions to see their favorite player or team play live. Therefore, it also has a high viewership.

Soccer is played between two teams who each have eleven players and use their feet to propel the ball within a rectangular field called a pitch. The main objective of this game is to score more goals than the opposing team. A goal is scored when the ball strikes the other team’s net, and their goalkeeper is unable to stop the goal. 

Typically, the game is divided into two halves of 45 minutes and the total match time is 90 minutes. However, the game can go overtime if there is an injury during the 90 minutes. It can also go overtime if the scores are tied. 

The basic rules of soccer were decided in 1863 when the International Football Association Board made the Laws of the Game. These rules have been maintained since 1886. According to the laws, the number of players, the field and ball size, the game’s length, the nature of fouls, etc., were decided. These laws are interpreted and enforced by the referee to ensure that there is a neutral party overseeing the game. 

Interesting Facts About the History of Soccer

The Popularity of Soccer

Soccer is the biggest sport in the world. Around the globe, 250 million official soccer players play for different leagues of different levels in over 200 countries. However, the number of people who play soccer as a hobby is even more. It is estimated that over a billion people play soccer as a recreational activity or hobby. 

Soccer has a large number of fans as well, who tune in every time there is a match. The 2018 World Cup held in Russia was watched by 3.57 billion viewers, including over half of the global population over four. Furthermore, the final of this world cup between France and Croatia was watched by 1.12 billion people worldwide. 

Therefore soccer has an extensive viewership alongside a large number of players, making it one of the most popular sports out there. 

The Official Name Is Association Football

The official name of soccer is association football, but in most countries, it is referred to as football or soccer. The name association football was decided upon to help distinguish the sport from Rugby football. Furthermore, since the Football Association decided the laws of the game, it became known as Association Football. 

Before the FA set the rules of the game, the teams would agree on a set of rules before playing. Some teams made it so they could handle the ball, whereas some preferred not to. Therefore, there was no unified set of rules. 

To get rid of this issue, the Football Association came together and decided on rules in 1863.

Most Countries Call It Football, and Only Seven Call It Soccer

Most countries around the world call association football as football. However, seven countries prefer to use the name soccer or another similar name. These countries include the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Oceania, and Italy.

These countries do so because American football, which resembles rugby, was also played when soccer was invented. Therefore, association football was called soccer, and football referred to the rugby-style game to create a distinction. 

Kicking Ball Games Were Played Thousands of Years Ago in China

Soccer includes kicking a ball around a field of grass. Similar kicking ball games were also popular thousands of years ago in China. According to FIFA, the first kicking ball game was played during the Han Dynasty, and this game was called Cuju.

In Cuju, much like in soccer, the players were not allowed to use their hands and could only kick the ball. Therefore, the basic rules were pretty similar to soccer rules in modern times. Furthermore, the balls they used were made of leather and filled with feathers. They had to kick this ball into a small opening with a net.

The First Ever Soccer Game Was Played in 1869

The first ever soccer game was played on 6th November 1869, between two teams, Princeton and Rutger. This game was played following the rules set by the London Football Association in 1863. These rules disallowed the players from carrying or throwing the ball, and they only had to use their feet to guide, dribble or kick the ball. 

The match was played with the soccer ball, and the Rutger Queensmen won by scoring six goals compared to the Princeton Tigers 4. This match is considered the first ever collegiate soccer match.

The First-Ever Meeting for Association Football Was Held at a Bar

The oldest soccer association in the world was simply called Football Association. It was a governing body of association football in England and was created in 1863. 

In the history of Football Association, the first meeting was held on 26th October 1863 at a bar. This bar was the Freemasons’ Tavern, located in Great Queen Street, London. During the meetings of the Football Association, the members decided on the game’s rules, which have been upheld since then. 

The Oldest Soccer Competition Was in 1872

The oldest soccer competition is the Football Association Cup, or FA Cup, which the FA started in 1872. This competition was created by Charles W. Alcock, who was an important person in making soccer a popular sport played worldwide. 

The FA Cup was initially played in a sudden-death format. After thirteen games, the Wanderers were crowned winners in the final on 16th March 1872. 

The First International Soccer Game Was in 1872

The first international soccer was held in the same year as the first soccer competition. This game took place on 30th November 1872 between the national teams of Scotland and England. Other matches between players of different countries might have taken place, but this was the first international soccer match recognized by FIFA.

The match occurred at the West of Scotland Cricket Club’s ground in Patrick Glasgow, and the place was called Hamilton Crescent. The historical game was witnessed by about 4000 people and ended in a 0-0 draw.

Soccer in Olympics

In 1900, soccer, for the first time, was included in the Olympic games. That year, the games were held in France, a monumental event in the history of soccer. Something else remarkable about this game was that only three teams competed, and only two games were played in total. Therefore, everyone was guaranteed a medal.

The countries that participated included Belgium, Great Britain, and France. The final was between Great Britain and France, and Britain won, and Belgium received the bronze medal. 

Uruguay Won the First World Cup

Uruguay hosted the first World Cup for soccer in 1930, with 13 teams participating in the tournament. The teams played several matches against one another, out of which Uruguay and Argentina were the best, and proceeded to the final.

The final match was played in front of a massive crowd of 90,000 fans who filled an entire stadium. Ultimately, Uruguay won the championship by scoring four goals while Argentina only managed to score two.

Uruguay could not win another World Cup until 20 years later, in 1950. Since then, they have not managed to win another.

The Country With the Most World Cup Wins

The soccer World Cup has been played since 1930, and since then, Brazil has won the most world titles out of every country with a national team. They managed to bring home the trophy a total of five times. They won their first world title in 1958, then in 1962, another in 1970, one in 1994, and the last in 2012. 

Brazil has appeared in the FIFA World Cup final seven times and has only lost twice. These two losses were once to Uruguay in 1950 and one to France in 1998. Therefore, the Brazilian team is powerful and a force to be reckoned with in each World Cup.

King Edward III Banned Soccer

Even though soccer is an incredibly popular sport, it was once banned in 1349 by King Edward III. During that time, men played kicking ball games, and although they were different from modern soccer, they had some of the same elements. 

The reason King Edward III gave for banning soccer was that it was deterring English men from learning archery. These men much preferred to play soccer instead of learning the art of archery. Since archery was also a defense tactic used in war, soccer was seen as a threat to national security. 

Therefore, King Edward III ordered the game to be banned. Many years later, he tried to ban the game again. Other Kings and Queens have also tried to restrict their men from indulging in soccer. 

Medieval Soccer Balls Used Pig Bladder

The history of soccer balls is also an interesting one. The first-ever soccer balls players used were made using pig and sheep bladders. These materials allowed the ball to be blown up into a circular shape which was ideal for playing soccer. However, since these were taken from animals, the bladders were not identical, and the balls were different. 

Furthermore, these soccer balls had to be blown up, and the pig bladder, which was encased in leather, had to be changed out. Preparing the bladder to be used in soccer balls was also unpleasant. 

Messi and Ronaldo Are the Richest Soccer Players

Among the 250 million active players worldwide, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the richest soccer players of all time. Both players have a handsome fee paid by their clubs, and they also make a large sum of their money through endorsements with multinational brands.

It is estimated that Cristiano Ronaldo earns a considerable amount through various endorsements, including Nike, Herbalife, etc. Lionel Messi also makes a huge sum as he is in a lifetime contract with Adidas and has a line of his own boots under the brand.

The Highest Scoring Soccer Game Ended With a Score of 149–0

In the history of soccer, the game with the highest score was between AS Adema and SO I’Emyrne, played in 2002 in Madagascar. In this game, there was an issue with a call made by a referee. To get the call revoked, SO I’Emyrne made an intentional decision to score 149 goals in their own net.

The team and their coaches involved in this tactic faced repercussions, and the fans at the match were also not fans of this strategy. 


Soccer has a vast history, with the first-ever casual game emerging from ancient China almost 4000 years ago. Since then, it has a rich history, including being banned to games with massive scores, etc. The game has also seen a lot of changes. The ball and shoes used to play the game have been significantly modernized, and the rules have also been decided upon to ensure a fair game.

All in all, soccer is a well-loved and popular game, and its popularity is only increasing as new talent emerges each and every single day. 

Exit mobile version