Various forms of football can be traced back to the ancient worlds of China, Greece, and Rome. The earliest form, according to FIFA, would be the one played in the Han Dynasty called cuju, or kick ball, with rules somewhat similar to modern soccer. This is followed by those in Greece, Phaininda and Episkyros, and the one from Rome, Harpastum. The last three weren’t as close to what soccer is today because they contained elements of rugby, wrestling, and volleyball with the use of players’ hands and physical violence.
If one were to ask FIFA, there isn’t a traditional history to soccer because there’s not any record of historical connections of modern soccer to any of the antiquity games outside of Europe. Europe, specifically England, is considered the birth place for modern soccer. England is the country that created the first official rules of soccer. They came to be in the mid-1800s as a way to standardize the multiple forms of football that school children were playing as far back as the late 700s. Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester, and Shrewsbury schools converged together at Trinity College in Cambridge to come up this first set of rules, known as the Cambridge Rules, 1848; however, these rules weren’t used by all footballers.
It wasn’t until 1862 when the first set of influential rules came to be by John Charles Thring from Uppingham School. The following year brought the establishment of the Football Association, which met at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London where they set up the first comprehensive rules for soccer. During one of these meetings, those that played rugby’s version of football separated themselves and formed their own association still present today because some of their rules for playing the game were removed from the drafting phase.
With the rules in place, C.W. Alcock decided to take the game one step further by creating the FA Cup, the oldest football competition, in 1872 and launched the first and oldest match for this cup the same year between Scotland and England.
As the years progressed, there became the need to have a group that represented and developed the official rules of the game so they set up the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in 1886. These official lawmakers were made up of four representatives from England. It stayed that way until 1913 when FIFA joined the board and added an additional four representatives for themselves.
As men’s soccer gained national and international ground throughout the world, women’s soccer didn’t truly become known as an official sport until quite recently. It originally started out as charity games and physical exercise for women in the late 1800s. The sport wasn’t organized into its own association until the 1960s and 1970s. The 1920s brought some serious struggles for women’s soccer because they were banned from using the same fields as the men’s soccer where the Football Association games were held. With this ban, women’s soccer remained in the shadows until the ban lifted in 1969. They became an official part of the Football Association for Women in 1971. Their inauguration into the World Cup competition didn’t take place until 1991 and their Olympic representation occurred in 1996.
As soccer came to be from the earliest records of history, the rules and guidelines that make up the game developed as well with the majority of modern day soccer coming to be in the 1800s as mentioned above. So, the next question becomes how the game is played.