When Was Soccer Invented? The Complete History

When Was Soccer Invented? The Complete History

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Soccer is possibly the biggest sport on the planet and one of many youngsters who dream of playing. There are not many people who have not had many thoughts of lifting the World Cup aloft and celebrating for days on end because of their love for soccer. However, many people might be unsure of the history of soccer, and when the beautiful game became part of normal life.

Soccer has origins dating back thousands of years but the first regulated set of rules were first outlay by English gentlemen in 1848 in Cambridge. In 1863, as a way of making the sport more competitive and more organized, the English Football Association was created. This led the way for other organizations around the world to be created.

When was soccer first invented?

To find out the real origins of soccer you have to go back 3,000 years to the Mesoamerican era and teams would play with a ball that represented the sun. The losing side’s captain would then be sacrificed as a present to the Gods. Cannot see that getting past FIFA as a new rule anytime soon!

Along the way, the Ancient Greeks and the Romans all had adaptations on a game with a ball. The Greeks had a game called Episkyros that involved the use of a ball but with your hands and feet. The aim would be to get it past the white line, however, players would be set up in attack vs defense formations very similar to the ones that would be played today.

The Romans played a game called Harpastum, which many believe has the same origins as that of the game Episkyros. There is not a huge amount known about the sport but what we do know is it was played at a very quick pace, it was physical and highly competitive. Sounds like another sport we all know.

Despite all the origin stories from around the world and at many different stages in the Earth’s life, it is widely recorded that it was the British that were the ones to create soccer to the one that we recognize today. 

Who invented soccer?

There have been many arguments as to who created soccer but it was the English who created a set of rules so that other people could play the game. There was no set person who invented the rules like in basketball where James Naismith came up with the rules for a school assignment.

The game became a collective around the country of England and it needed someone or some people to sit down and organize the game so that it could be enjoyed by the country and ultimately the world.

Soccer was not created by one person but more by the soccer organization; The English Football Association. The association helped create clubs and establish rules that all the clubs would have to follow. There would also be leagues set up at many different levels so that teams can compete against similarly ranked teams. 

What country did soccer originate from?

The modern game that we know today and love originated from the first Football Association set up in England.

In the 12th-century games resembling soccer were being played by people on roads and in meadows all across the country. However, rather than using your feet constantly, you would start the game by punching the ball. It slowly adapted once again in the 16th century when towns would battle it out against each other by trying to get the ball from one village to the next. 

There would be minimal rules and a lot of violence. The game is still held annually in Britain and there is footage of YouTubers taking part, giving a good representation of how it would have been in the 16th century.

The game was banned for centuries due to violent outbreaks but returned to the streets of London in the early 1800s. However, the Government banned it once again until 1835 but at this point, it was well established in schools across the country and its popularity was rivaling cricket.

In 1848, there was an attempt to finally sort out some rules for this game in Cambridge because people were just playing with their own rules. The Sheffield rules followed ten years later as teams in the north were playing by different rules to that in the south. This led to the creation of leagues and teams across the country. One of the first clubs Notts County, created in 1862, still exists today! The popularity and amount of clubs being created led to the English Football Association being set up in 1863.

In 1885, after a long hard battle, professional football was established and in 1888 the first soccer league was created. When soccer was first played in England there were just 12 teams in the league, now there are 92 recognized teams in the first four top-flight divisions; in the country, there are over 40,000 recognized clubs with the soccer association.

Soccer was well and truly on its way to becoming a popular sport in the late 1800s in England but what about the rest of the world?

Despite the domination of the English game, clubs were being formed across Europe as they tried to challenge the British sides. At the turn of the century, clubs from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Italy were starting to get themselves noticed. In 1904, 41 years after the English Football Association, FIFA was created and recognized as the global soccer head.

It was not long before soccer was dominating the sporting scene across the world particularly in South America where countries such as Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina were becoming real forces. In 1930, it was in South America where the first World Cup was played and where the first World Cup would live for four years. After 16 countries entered the tournament, it was the hosts Uruguay who prospered and beat Argentina 4-2 in the final.

Since 1930, there have been 20 more World Cups and the creation of many more domestic tournaments and leagues such as the MLS, European Champions League, Copa Libertadores, African Cup of Nations, and many more thrilling competitions that are watched worldwide.

Now, just in Europe alone, there are 36 professional football leagues with more than 950 clubs in 29 countries. Across the world there are many more clubs being formed, for example, two years ago David Beckham formed Inter Miami FC and in March 2020 they played their first professional game in the MLS against Los Angeles FC. 

When is women’s soccer first invented?

Women’s soccer has gone through a very difficult time since the creation of soccer. Women have been interested in soccer just as much as men and have wanted to participate in the game. Even as far back as the Han Dynasty in China. In 1892, however, the first recorded game took place in Glasgow from the Scottish Football Association and just three years later the first women’s game was recorded in England. The game was prospering just as much the men and teams such as the British Ladies’ Football Club fronted by activist Nettie Honeyball in 1894 who paved the way for the game today. 

As the war took over the world in 1914, men were deployed away from their homes and the men’s soccer game was non-existent. So women took over the mantle and produced some wonderful spectacles including on Boxing Day 1917 where 20,000 people watched England play Ireland. 

However, many people had a problem with women playing the sport and saw them as too “masculine” for enjoying soccer. This all came to a head in 1921 when the English Football Association banned women’s soccer. It was a detrimental hit for the sport, even despite its popularity (one game got over 50,000 attendees) the women’s game was banned until 1971.

Since women being allowed to participate in the sport again, the game has gone from strength to strength. In 1991 the first World Cup was held and more leagues have been established all across the world. The popularity and standard of the game has constantly improved with fans flocking to stadiums, seeing their side more regularly on the television, and women’s soccer being included in the newspapers.

The sport was becoming incredibly popular in America during the 1990s but now the sport is popular globally. So much so 77,768 attended England vs Germany in 2019 promoting the game once more. 

Who invented a soccer ball?

The soccer ball is a key part of playing soccer. Without it, there would be no game. Historians have found that the ball used in games dates back to Chinese, Egyptian, Roman, and Greek times. The ball would be made from different animal skin and gut but they would not be able to play several games with the ball as it would perish leaving the ball redundant.

It would not be until engineer Charles Goodyear invented a soccer ball made from vulcanized rubber, which he patented and perfected. Goodyear invented the ball in 1855 so that games would have a more sustainable ball to use rather than the pig bladder. With people making their own balls you would often have oddly shaped balls and it would not go where they wanted it to go. 

However, in 1862 H.J Lindon would improve on Goodyear’s design and created the first inflatable ball that would make the ball playable for a much longer period. In 1872, the English Football Association decided to give the ball an official size and weight so that it was consistent in all games. Little changed to this rule until 1937 where a little more weight was added and this allowed balls to be mass-produced. 


The ball has changed materials over many years and manufacturers have experimented with different stitching, the material of the ball, and the paneling. Sometimes the ball can determine how good a tournament like the World Cup can be as for example, the South African World Cup used the Adidas Jabulani which affected the state of play when players took their shot at goal.

When did soccer become popular?

Soccer has grabbed the attention of the public since it was first established as a sport. As stated, communities would come together to play or support in the early forms of the sport. It was and still is an important sense of community as it can bring families and friends together. 

The creation of the league system and clubs in the late 1800s helped with the popularity of the sport as teams from across the north of England and Midlands were playing against each other. The 12 founding members of the English Football League were Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. All of these clubs were created on strong foundations and are still in existence to this day. 

By the 1900-01 season, there were 36 teams across two different leagues all playing against each other to attendances of up to 50,000 people. Although the league consisted of just northern teams, there were many clubs from the south that still played in the FA Cup and outside the league. Soccer really gripped the English nation.

Since the creation of the clubs and leagues, the sport has just become more and more popular all over the world. It is played by approximately 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it officially the world’s most popular sport.

Soccer was made readily available on the radio, on television, and in the newspapers so people were able to access the sport easily. It was also created by the common person for the common person, so affording tickets to watch the team live was not too expensive. Still to this day, the most-watched television broadcast in England was the 1966 World Cup when England beat West Germany with 33.3 million people tuning in. It is also the case that for each “tournament year” soccer will be the most-watched event in many countries. For example in Germany out of the top 20 live broadcasts, soccer from a World Cup or a European Championship game hits 19 out of the 20 broadcasts.

In more modern times you cannot avoid the sport with people talking about it at work, on social media, or ringing up radio stations to have their opinion heard about soccer. It really does dominate the world. 

Soccer history facts

Over time soccer has created amazing moments and careers for players of the game. From personal achievements to club achievements and to national achievements. Here a few facts about great achievements in the game of soccer:

  • Brazil have won the most World Cups since the competition started in 1930. They have won the competition five times in the years 2002, 1994, 1970, 1962 and 1958.
  • 17 different countries have hosted the World Cup and have been won by 8 different countries. Brazil, Germany, Italy, France, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, and England.
  • Germany’s Miroslav Klose has scored the most goals in World Cup history as he has found the net 16 times including a hat trick against Saudi Arabia in Germany’s 8-0 win at the World Cup in 2002.
  • Erwin Helmchen has scored the most goals ever in soccer history. He scored a reported 982 goals in 575 games. The highest fully recorded player is Ferenc Puskás with 808 goals in 794 games.
  • In England, Alan Shearer holds the record for the most goals scored in the Premier League with 260 goals.
  • Ahmed Hassan of Egypt represented his country 184 times and has the most international caps of all time for any country.
  • On 11th April 2001, Australia smashed many a record with their game against American Samoa. They won the game 31-0 and striker Archie Thompson scored 13 goals himself. 
  • Real Madrid is the most dominant European Club in the Champions League (formerly the European Cup) with 13 wins in their long history.
  • Independiente has won the most Copa Libertadores the most amount of times. They have won the competition 7 times.
  • Brazilian defender Dani Alves has the most trophies throughout his career. He has won 41 titles with Bahia, Sevilla, Barcelona, Juventus, PSG, and Brazil.
  • Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or 7 times throughout his career. He has the most anyone has ever won since the award was created in 1956 and first won by Sir Stanley Matthews.
  • Manchester United has the most English top-flight titles. The club has won the title 20 times.
  • Colombian central defensive midfielder Gerardo Bedoya has the most career red cards. Surprisingly he has been sent off 46 times over his career. 
  • Neymar’s move to PSG in 2017 from Barcelona was a record transfer fee and broke the previous fee spent by Manchester United on Paul Pogba by over €100 million. PSG spent €222m on the tricky Brazilian forward.

Soccer, it is evident, has evolved massively over a relatively short period of time and in that period the rules have changed constantly. From rules such as offside, how to decide a draw in a tournament, and how many points are awarded for a win, there has been an adaptation from the original 1848 rules.

It is clear the game is always changing and it will continue to change especially with the use of video assistance but one thing that will be remembered is that the love for the game that originated 3,000 years ago will not change.