Guest Author - Alice Jones
Association Football – The Story of Soccer.
The World's most popular Sport, Association Football, known to many as simply football and to the rest of the world as soccer, is ever growing more popular and culturally important.
Probably the very earliest form of the game or a similar game has it's roots in Ancient China, around the 2nd Century BC, various other games that involved kicking a ball existed since in Asia and Europe, none were exactly like the soccer we know today.
In England in medieval times it was a cruel sport, the beheaded head of a convicted criminal or war victim was kicked around but later a ball was used and this developed into a game between towns and cities, gradually evolving into the modern game where rules where developed and agreed upon.
Modern football was born in England, in the 19th Century. The Football Association was formed in 1863. The oldest Football Competition in the World is the Football Association Cup or F.A Cup, sometimes affectionately called the Famous Cup and in England often just “the cup.”
The “home nations” of Great Britain at the time played each other, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and they formed the original International committee, International Football Association Board (IFAB) in 1882. This is still the governing body of the rules of the game to this day. FIFA has four members on the panel, and the original members all have one each.
This is the main reason why the nation states of Great Britain and Ireland enter competitions individually even to this day, because they formed separate associations at the time and were given special dispensation to do so. Whether that is an advantage or disadvantage is debatable, given that only England have ever won the World Cup, and even so only once in 1966.
Incidentally, another peculiarity of English football, is that Welsh teams such as Cardiff and Swansea, are part of the English Leagues, despite Wales having their own league.
The term 'Soccer' was coined because of the soc. in association, which distinguished a person from being a player of Rugby football called 'Rugger' which also developed around the same time. I am using the terms soccer and football interchangeably as perhaps they should be because either term is equally true, although football fans in Europe now prefer to call it football.
It has it's detractors of course, those who prefer other sports and those who prefer no sports at all. I think that those who love it know that once you love soccer you know it is the true football, and I think that once you love it, you always will.
Perhaps it's popularity is due to it's simplicity. What sport could be easier to learn, both to play and to enjoy watching? Simply win the game by scoring more goals than your opponent. Easy to play, fun to watch. Not so simple though to lack skill or finesse, good football is an art form at its finest, and a science at it's best.