It is impossible to trace the very beginning of soccer until now, not only because it is such a long and complicated history, but also because the lines are so blurred between what we now know as rugby and what we know as association football (the official name for soccer or football). We call it soccer here in the United States, but that name was actually created in Britain as an abbreviation for ‘association football’. The name was used predominantly in Britain in the mid-1800’s until ‘football’ became a more popular name. The term stuck in the USA, however. (Origin)
The first incarnation of what we now know as soccer began in England in 1863 when the English Football Association (FA or English FA) was created. Upon the creation of the FA the first rules of the game were also created. There was a lot of debate between which set of rules should be used in that time; one of the first sets of rules ever created were called the Sheffield Rules, created by the world’s first actual football club Sheffield FC, but these were rejected by the English FA and modified. Soccer has become progressively less physical over time. At the sport’s beginning, the offside rule meant that all players must be behind the ball at all times and there was no red and yellow card rule until the 1970 World Cup (FIFA History).
The English FA still exists today and is the governing body of English soccer. A governing body enforces policies, rules, and regulates officiating, promotion, relegation, and many other aspects of the game. There are Football Associations in every country that has any kind of system of soccer leagues, the governing body in the United States is simply known as US Soccer.
Obviously there has always been a hierarchy of soccer in England since the FA was created and individual clubs began facing others, but the English Premier League, or EPL, as we know it now wasn’t created until 1992. The Premier League may be the world’s most popular league. One of the most exciting seasons in the league was the 2011-12 season in which Manchester City won the title over rivals Manchester United to go ahead on points at the last minute of a match against QPR on the last day of the season. Sergio Aguero scored a stoppage time winner to make the score 3-2 and City went on to win their first ever EPL title. In the 2003-04 season Arsenal FC became the only Premier League team to go through an entire season without a loss (EPL History).
Soccer being such a free-flowing and open game makes it very easy to change perceptions of how it can and should be played. This has caused the approach to it throughout history to change, which makes for an interesting conversation about how the game has changed so much from the rules it began from in Sheffield, UK.
- Hiskey, D. (2010, June 23) The Origin of the Word ‘Soccer’. Today I Found Out. Retrieved from: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/06/the-origin-of-the-word-soccer/
- Federation Internationale de Football Association (1994-2014). History of Football. Fifa. Retrieved from: http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/history/
- English Premier League (1992-2014). History of the Premier League. Barclays Premier League. Retrieved from: http://www.premierleague.com/content/premierleague/en-gb/about/history.html