History of Soccer

Soccer or football, whatever you name it, this game of passion has the ability to evoke the emotions and stir the soul. However, the history of soccer has not been as beautiful as the sports itself. Today, over 250 million players play this game, but things were not the same a hundred years ago. Besides the introduction of new rules; the ball used in the game was frequently evolving and changing over the years.

For the viewers, the guideline of modern soccer is simple – kicking the ball inside the net present in opposite direction and the victory of a team depends on the number of successful goals. However, in reality, the game is not as easy as it seems.

The offsides in soccer is a fundamental part of the game that promotes fairness and influences both defensives as well offensive play by ensuring attackers don’t gain any unfair advantages over opposing defenders.

To dig more into it; let’s take a look at the history of soccer, how it begins, evolved, who started it first and a lot more. Keep reading till the end and learn interesting things about your favorite sports – soccer.

Soccer in The Ancient Times 

Although the history of soccer is more than 2000 years old, but the actual era or date is not obvious. Regardless, it is believed that the earlier version of football was invented by the Aztecs. Here is a brief description of some similar games played in the past that actually laid a strong foundation of modern soccer we play today.

  • Tchatali 

Tchatali was also popular as Aztec soccer game in which the main aim was to pass the ball through a stone ring without using hands. This sport had strong political and religious ties and the ball itself was symbolized with the sun. Moreover, it is also heard that the captain of losing teams was often sacrificed to gods.

  • Tsu Chu or Cuju

In China, during the Han Dynasty, another ancient form of soccer has been documented dated back to 206 BC. It was named as Tsu Chu or Cuju, and the main purpose of this game was to keep the Chinese military fit and active.

This version of sports featured a set of bamboo goalposts standing right in the middle of the ground. The ball utilized in Cuju was made of rubber with feathers and furs filled inside. The player had to pass the ball through the tiny opening present in the net to win the game. Just as the previous one, the use of hands was forbidden in this version as well. Moreover, a team of 12 to 16 players were allowed in the game; women were also included sometimes. 

  • Episkyros 

Another similar sport recorded in the history of ancient soccer is Episkyros that was played by the Ancient Greeks. The game involved an equal number of players in both the teams. A white boundary was laid between them, and the second line was marked behind the teams at some distance. The guideline was to throw the ball to the opposite team back and forth until it touches the rear line. 

  • Medieval Football

As the name suggests, the game was played during the medieval period and was also called folk football. Around the 9th century, the bladder of pig was used to kick from one landmark to the other instead of a ball. However, this version was later banned because of creating nuisance. 

Invention of Modern Version of Soccer

In the 19th century, the era of modern soccer began when this sport became popular at schools and universities level. At that time, the game was basically a combination of soccer and rugby football. The variations in rules made it chaotic and unruly. For instance, some schools allowed the players to use their hands in the game, while the others chose to play with feet only, etc. This variety made students frustrated at the time of inter-school matches, where the opposite team want to play the match with their own rules. That is when the players decided to do major changes in the history of soccer for good. The first step towards the development was to formalize a set of rules that are followed by all the teams throughout the country. 

Important Developments in The History of Soccer


  • In 1848, around 8 undergraduates came together in Cambridge from four different schools in order to draft up a set of rules that should be followed by everyone playing soccer. 
  • All of them agreed on eleven rules, and they were then hung to a tree in Parker’s Piece (a place where all the teams would meet for the match). The set of regulations were known as the Cambridge Rules. 
  • A few years forward to 1855, the first amateur soccer club was created in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Besides the love of sports, another reason to motivate the club members was to stay fit in the winter season. 
  • In 1857, the club earned official recognition as Sheffield FC, and today it is known as the oldest soccer club all over the world.

The Oldest Professional Soccer Club

Notts County Football Club is the oldest professional soccer club that is based in Nottingham, England. It was created on November 25th, 1862. 

The dress code of the team featured black and white strips, and this is the reason behind their nickname ‘Magpie’. In 1903, the theme of uniform inspired the Juventus (an Italian club) and they adopted the same colors for their kit. 

For your information, the club didn’t start with playing soccer. Instead, they used to play a self-inventory game. However, they switched to the ball game once the Football Association was established. 

The First Ever Soccer League

In 1888-89, twelve football clubs decided to compete each other under The Football league, including:

  • Wolverhampton Wanderers 
  • Stoke City
  • West Bromwich Albion
  • Derby County 
  • Notts County 
  • Preston North End
  • Aston Villa
  • Burnley
  • Everton
  • Bolton Wanderers 
  • Accrington and
  • Blackburn Rovers 

In this ground-breaking league, twelve teams were able to make it, and the involvement of Notts County was short-lived. Even the tag of being the oldest soccer members couldn’t promise them any future success. Notts was placed on 11th position out of 12 during the league.

Arrival of Soccer in The United States 


Some evidence revealed that Algonquians (Native American Indians) used to play a version of soccer in the past along the Massachusetts Coast. Another report showed that; Pasuckuakohowog was quite similar to the folk football in which the players were required to kick the ball through goals. The word ‘Pasuckuakohowog’ refers to as ‘playing ball with feet’ and it was a popular game in Europe at that time.

It is believed that the modern soccer entered America in 1850 through New Orleans. This happened shortly after the first draft of Cambridge rules were made. 

Moving forward to this date, soccer is flourishing in the America with over 12 million players and twenty-five clubs. 

Major League Soccer

As a part of 1994 World Cup, Major League Soccer (MLS) was announced in 1993. It was one of the popular leagues played in the United States with over 20,000 attendances per game on an average. Apart from this, several other developments helped the MLS in making profit, such as the designated player rules, construction of purpose-built stadiums and agreements with TV stations.

In recent years, the United States Women’s National Team, also termed as USWNT, played a huge part in the growth and popularity of soccer throughout the America. Surprisingly, the most-watched soccer game in the United States history was FIFA Women’s World Cup final in 2015. However, the success of USWNT didn’t come to the team easily. The players had to overcome major hurdles in the journey. Regardless, the women’s football team became incredibly popular in the 19th century. In fact, one of their matches attracted over 53,000 spectators. However, the Football Association was not happy with the team and chose to ban women from entering the playground for 50 years.

The Future of Soccer

It is 2022, and the love for soccer is crazy throughout the world. Currently, FIFA is trying to experiment new rules to improve the game in the future tournaments, which involves:

  • Reducing the game timing to half an hour (30 minutes) rather the standard time, which is 45 minutes. 
  • The trail also features the stopping of Association Football clock timer when the ball is out of the play.
  • Implementation of using feet for a throw-in instead of hands.
  • Yellow cards call for five-minute suspensions. 

The mentioned trials usually occur at the Youth World Cups. 

In recent decades, the managers and opponents are more focused on the strength of the team members and teaching them important drills to improve the game while exploiting the weaknesses of the opposite team. It is predicted that soccer game will look quite different in the coming years from what is played today with extensive knowledge and improved technology. 

Final Words

Soccer is one of the most played and loved games throughout the world. The rules and format of this sport were not same as it is today. Earlier, people used to have their own set of rules and conditions until a group of students in Cambridge decided to draft some standard regulations that everyone had to follow. As the time passed, a lot of changes were made to the list and it is still modifying as per the players’ and federation’s convenience. 

The history of soccer is certainly full of hardships and emotions, but the best part is that; all the hard work of past team members has been paid of in the form of success and profit this game is earning today.