While association football is occasionally referred to as soccer in some parts of the world, one thing about the game that can be agreed on is that it is arguably the most popular sport in the world. Most cultures have produced some sort of ball kicking game so there were a few precursors to the game developed into football. Most scholars believe that the Roman game of harpastum was a very early form of what became football on the British Isles. The game evolved through the Middle Ages with various regions having different rules and guidelines. It was inevitable that this collective love of sport would eventually merge.
The true birth of the game we play today came in 1848 with the Cambridge Rules developed by Trinity College. While representatives of six major schools worked on this, the Cambridge Rules were not universally accepted. Too many people liked football and wanted to play themselves and they considered this set of regulations to be too “school-boyish” for the average amateur player.
In the years that followed the Cambridge codification, many football clubs sprang up across the land that had nothing to do with “university” football. These non-professional clubs tended to play their own games and adhere to their own rules. However, the school chaps preferred a more consistent game and a number of former student players developed the Sheffield Football Club in order to bring some order to the game.
By 1863 the growing spread of diverse forms of football required another gathering of major influences. Meeting in London, they once more attempted to keep the game from fragmenting any further. This group not completely successful even at that. The Blackheath, London football club withdrew from the proceedings over the removal of the rules allowing the use of hands on the ball.
They eventually developed their own game that became what is now known as Rugby. However, the remaining eleven clubs finally codified an acceptable series of rules and with them formed the Football Association (FA). By 1870 the Sheffield Football Association had joined in and football was once again a similar and familiar game for everyone.
The mid 1800’s saw such an explosion of football popularity that one country alone could not contain it all. 1886 saw the formation of the International Football Association Board comprising the national associations from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Still football spread. The twentieth century had barely begun when the Fedration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in Paris was started in 1904 and declared they would uphold the rules and regulations of the FA.
Football is now played professionally in just about every country in the world. As well as the millions that make it to the stadium to watch the game, there are billions who make sure to have a television at hand on game day to watch their favorite teams compete. FIFA surveys have concluded that at least two hundred fifty million people regularly play amateur football.
With just a few easy to understand rules and simple basic pieces of equipment, football has made it easy for almost everyone to indulge their passion for a game of “footy” on the playing field. Even the amateur leagues maintain a championship level of commitment to the game and a universal appeal that can transcend the boundaries of both language and nationality.