Timeline of football
Establisment of modern codes
Football refers to a number
of sports that involve, to
degrees, kicking a ball with
the foot to score a goal. The
most popular of these sports
worldwide is association
football, more commonly
known as just "football" or
The Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have played
many ball games, some of which involved the use of the
Documented evidence of an activity resembling football
can be found in the Chinese military manual Zhan Guo
Ce compiled between the 3rd century and 1st century BC. It
describes a practice known as cuju ( literally "kick ball"),
which originally involved kicking a leather ball through a
small hole in a piece of silk cloth which was fixed on
bamboo canes and hung about 9 m above ground.
Establishment of modern codes
A more detailed description of football is given in Francis
Willughby's Book of Games, written in about 1660. Willughby,
who had studied at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, Sutton
Coldfield, is the first to describe goals and a distinct playing field:
"a close that has a gate at either end. The gates are called Goals."
His book includes a diagram illustrating a football field. He also
mentions tactics ("leaving some of their best players to guard the
goal"); scoring ("they that can strike the ball through their
opponents' goal first win") and the way teams were selected
("the players being equally divided according to their strength
and nimbleness"). He is the first to describe a "law" of football:
"they must not strike [an opponent's leg] higher than the ball"
Official disapproval and attempts
to ban football
Between 1324 and 1667, football was banned in England
alone by more than 30 royal and local laws. The need to
repeatedly proclaim such laws demonstrated the
difficulty in enforcing bans on popular games.
King Edward IIwas so troubled by the unruliness of
football in London that on April 13, 1314 he issued a
proclamation banning it.
The reasons for the ban by Edward III, on June 12, 1349,
were explicit: football and other recreations distracted
the populace from practicing archery, which was
necessary for war.
Present day codes and families
Five-a-side football — played throughout the world under various rules including:
Futsal — the FIFA-approved five-a-side indoor game
Minivoetbal — the five-a-side indoor game played in East and West Flanders where it is
Papi fut — the five-a-side game played in outdoor basketball courts (built with goals) in
Indoor soccer — the six-a-side indoor game, known in Latin America, where it is often played in
open air venues, as fútbol rápido ("fast football")
Masters Football — six-a-side played in Europe by mature professionals (35 years and older)
Paralympic football — modified Football for athletes with a disability. Includes:
Football 5-a-side — for visually impaired athletes
Football 7-a-side — for athletes with cerebral palsy
Amputee football — for athletes with amputations
Deaf football — for athletes with hearing impairments
Electric wheelchair soccer
Beach soccer — football played on sand, also known as beach football and sand soccer
Street football — encompasses a number of informal varieties of football
Globalisation of association
The need for a single body to oversee association football had
become apparent by the beginning of the 20th century, with
the increasing popularity of international fixtures. The English
Football Association had chaired many discussions on setting
up an international body, but was perceived as making no
progress. It fell to associations from seven other European
France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and
Switzerland, to form an international association.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
was founded in Paris on May 21, 1904. Its first president
was Robert Guérin. The French name and acronym has
remained, even outside French-speaking countries.
Split in Rugby football
In Britain, by 1870, there were about 75 clubs playing
variations of the Rugby school game. There were also
"rugby" clubs in Ireland, Australia, Canada and New
Zealand. However, there was no generally accepted set of
rules for rugby until 1871, when 21 clubs from London
came together to form theRugby Football Union (RFU).
The first official RFU rules were adopted in June 1871.
These rules allowed passing the ball. They also included
the try, where touching the ball over the line allowed an
attempt at goal, though drop-goals from marks and
general play, and penalty conversions were still the main
form of contest.
The governing bodies in each country operate league systems in
a domestic season, normally comprising several divisions, in which
the teams gain points throughout the season depending on results.
Teams are placed into tables, placing them in order according to
points accrued. Most commonly, each team plays every other team
in its league at home and away in each season, in around-robin
tournament. At the end of a season, the top team is declared the
champion. The top few teams may be promoted to a higher
division, and one or more of the teams finishing at the bottom
are relegated to a lower division.
The five top European leagues – the Premier League (England), La
Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), the Bundesliga (Germany) and Ligue
1 (France) – attract most of the world's best players and each of the
leagues has a total wage cost in excess of £600 million/€763
The major international competition in football is the World
Cup, organised by FIFA. This competition takes place over a
four-year period. More than 190 national teams compete in
qualifying tournaments within the scope of continental
confederations for a place in the finals.
The finals tournament, which is held
every four years, involves 32 national
teams competing over a four-week
period. The most recent
tournament, the 2010 FIFA World
Cup, was held in South Africa from 11
June to 11 July.
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