Today we’re going have an abbreviated lesson on the origins of soccer. This subject has been passionately debated over the years but for our lesson we’re going to stick to what FIFA says on the subject.
It’s believed that the world’s most popular sport as we know it was defined in England in 1863 when rugby football and association football (soccer) split and the Football Association was formed. Prior to that the origins of both games can be traced back centuries through a variety of competitions that involved playing the ball with hands, feet and other various body parts.
The earliest known instance of these games was known as Tsu’ Chu, and was discovered in a military manual dating back to second century China. The ball was constructed of leather and filled with feathers and hair. The goal was to kick it into a small net which sat on long bamboo canes and as with todays game, you could only use your feet, chest, back and shoulders. Of course, use of hands was strictly prohibited. Another game called Kemari originated in Japan and is still played today. However it more resembled what we think of as juggling opposed to a match between two sides.
More competitive games developed in other regions, such as ‘Epikyros’ in Greece and “Harpastum” which was played in Rome. Both wer considered much were much livelier, however few details of it’s rules survive. What is known was two teams played on a rectangular field marked by a center line and the goal was to move the ball over your opposition’s boundary line by passing and trickery. It is widely believed the Romans brought ‘Harpastum’ to Britain with them bringing our lesson full circle.