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Who invented football?

Although there’s no one single inventor of football, but it is widely accepted now that the Football Association (FA) in England invented modern football in 1863 by laying down the rules and guidelines of the sport, many of which are still followed to this day.

It is hard to imagine the world today without football. Football is, by far, the most popular sport on the face of the planet and the FIFA World Cup is viewed and followed by at least half of the entire globe.

The best thing about football is that it is such an accessible and easy sport to play. Only a ball and a vague idea of a goal is needed in order for anyone to enjoy the sport on a regular basis and everyone from young kids to adults participate in playing football regularly. FIFA has 209 member countries on its roster which just goes to show that football is the one true global game and is played everywhere.

But who invented football and where was it born? How did its modern origins come to be? Let’s discuss below:

Who invented football?

Modern football, as we know it and identify it, has its roots in England. Football – also known as Association football or soccer – is said to have begun in England in 1863 when the Football Association (FA), which is still in existence to this day, laid down the rules and guidelines of the sport properly for the first time ever.

Although many of the rules of the sport have evolved and several new laws have been added in the constitution of the game, the overall makeup of the sport has largely remained the same from the 19th century onwards.

Even prior to the formation of the FA at the time, there were several different forms of football that were being played in the world. Such games were also extremely common in England and were played in schools on a regular basis. However, they were mostly chaotic and had no standardised set of rules.

Moreover, to make matters worse, a number of different rule codes existed, such as the rules of Cambridge and Sheffield, which resulted in more confusion and often resulted in disagreement among the various players.

While there is no single individual who can be credited with being the man who invented football, Ebenezer Morley comes close and he is said to be the father of the Football Association.

While Morley was not one of the public schoolboys who fought over the different rule interpretations, he was the founder of Barnes Football Club. It was his letter to the newspaper Bell’s Life where he called for a meeting of the representatives of the 12 regional clubs, that the Football Association was born.

Also Read: Who is the legend of football?

That historic meeting took place on October 26, 1863 at the Freemasons’ Tavern on Great Queen Street in London. Football soon became codified and quantified with actual laws and regulations and started taking a shape of it.

The first FA Cup game was played in the year 1872, and players soon started getting paid by their clubs resulting in the formation of professional football. One after the other, clubs continued to join the FA and by the year 1887, 128 clubs had been officially registered with the Football Association. The English Football League was established in 1888 by then-Villa director William McGregor.

While these days the game is run by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which was established in 1904, before that the game was mostly managed by the FA.

The IFAB (International Football Association Board) is the so-called ‘guardian’ of the Laws of the Game and is run by FIFA as well as the four British associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

The earliest forms of football

While those in England take the credit of being the inventors of modern football, the truth is football, in one way or another, was played all over the world and centuries before its modern foundation.

Mankind’s obsession with a round-shaped ball is no secret and most modern sports involve some kind of a ball. Football is thought to have been played as far back as 2500 BC when the Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese and the Romans had some kind of a game involving kicking the ball with the feet.

In fact, the Chinese game named ‘Tsu-Chu’, meaning “kicking the ball”, is very similar to the modern-day football game and was the first of its kind to not allow hands. The game involved kicking a small leather ball and the goal was to hit it into a net that was strung between two bamboo poles 30 feet in the air.

Records of Tsu-Chu being played date back thousands of years to the Han Dynasty, between 206 BC and 220 AD.

A similar game also existed in ancient Greece which was called ‘episkyros’. The name of the game, in Greek, means ‘common ball’ and it involved two teams of players and featured only a single ball. However, in this game though, people were allowed to use their hands.

‘Episkyros’ was frequently violent in nature and it is believed to be related somewhat to the later ancient Roman game ‘harpastum’, which means ‘carried away’.

Even in England, where the modern game began, football had more humble origins and was played as early as in the ninth century. There are records that exist of people kicking around pig’s bladders in villages in the country and during the medieval period, games began to be played in towns that involved rival teams kicking each other and soon became violent in nature.

This recreational sport, which was known as “folkball” or “folk football”, carried the aim of placing the ball in a designated area – through kicking, throwing, or carrying – which would result in a point being scored.

However, unlike the modern version of the sport, the scoring places would often be separated by a distance of a few miles and the game was also played by a huge number of people with differing rules and interpretations.

It eventually got banned by authorities in the 14th century because of its violent tendencies and the noise and commotion it produced in towns.

Which is the best country in football?

TeamTitlesRunners-upThird placeFourth placeTop 4total
Brazil5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)2 (1950*, 1998)2 (1938, 1978)2 (1974, 2014*)11
Germany4 (1954, 1974*, 1990, 2014)4 (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002)4 (1934, 1970, 2006*, 2010)1 (1958)13
Italy4 (1934*, 1938, 1982, 2006)2 (1970, 1994)1 (1990*)1 (1978)8
Argentina3 (1978*, 1986, 2022)3 (1930, 1990, 2014)6
France2 (1998*, 2018)2 (2006, 2022)2 (1958, 1986)1 (1982)7
Uruguay2 (1930*, 1950)3 (1954, 1970, 2010)5
England1 (1966*)2 (1990, 2018)3
Spain1 (2010)1 (1950)2

Although modern football was invented in Europe, countries from South America have done extremely well. Brazil is the most successful team in football history and they have won the FIFA World Cup on five occasions – the most for any nation in the world. Germany and Italy are the most successful teams in Europe with four titles each while Argentina won their third crown at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar last December.

Also Read: FIFA World Cup winners list

England, the country that gave birth to modern football, has won the game’s biggest prize only once – in 1966 – when the tournament was hosted in England.


What is the difference between football and American football?

Football is played with the feet and is also known as soccer in America. American football is rugby.

Who is the founder of American football?

Walter Camp is said to be the founder of American football as he came up with most of the rules that people are familiar with today.

When was football inducted into the Olympics?

Men’s football was played in Olympics for the first time in 1900 in Paris. Britain took home the gold medal that year and football was the first team sport to be inducted into the Olympics.

When and where was the first FIFA World Cup held?

The football World Cup was held for the first time in Uruguay in 1930. The tournament included only 13 countries and hosts Uruguay won the trophy on home soil after defeating neighbours Argentina 4-2 in the final. 


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