The ‘beautiful game’ has a long and interesting history, dating as far back as Ancient Greece. The Greeks only had one rule when playing ‘harpaston’, their version of football, and that was to get the ball over the line at any cost. The other teams job was stop the ball going over the line using any method they liked. There was no field length, no boundaries, and definitely no rules!
Read on for more fun facts about football
- A more recognisable form of football began in 476BC China. Players had to kick a leather ball through a hole in a piece of cloth. The game was known as ‘cuju’ and it wasn’t long before goal posts and standard rules were introduced.
- Football as we know it today was invented in England in the 12th century. The game became so popular that Kings Henry II and Henry IV banned it because they thought it took interest away from traditional English sports like archery and fencing.
- The rules and standards developed after the sport was introduced into seven of England’s public schools including Eton, Harrow and Winchester in the 1800s. The game became known as ‘association football’ or ‘soccer’.
- The world’s oldest football club is Sheffield FC which was founded in 1857 by Colonel Nathaniel Cresswick and Major William Priest, two British Army officers.
- Andrew Watson was the world’s first black international football player. He was born in British Guiana and was a real life celebrity of the Victoria era.
- With the exception of 1896 and 1932, men’s football has been played at every summer Olympics.
- The first televised football match was between Arsenal and Arsenal Reserves.
- The largest ever attendance for a football match was 199,854 spectators. The match was between Brazil and Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup, and was held at the Maracana Municipal Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
- In 1990 the Albanian national team was detained at Heathrow Airport. They had helped themselves to £3000 worth of merchandise after misunderstanding the term ‘duty free’ and attempting to leave without paying!
- During a 1999 match Cyril the Swan, Swansea City’s giant feathered mascot, was fined £1000 and banned from the pitch. And what did he do to deserve this? Celebrated a goal with a pitch invading dance that angered officials.
- In 2001 football was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after Swedish politician Lars Gustafsson cited the capacity for world football to bring normally hostile nations together.
- Famous faces who were nearly footballers include chef Gordon Ramsey, singer Julio Inglesias, and philosopher Albert Camus. All of their footballing careers were halted by illness or injury.
Football is now the most played and most watched sport on Earth. Many people aspire to become professional footballers and if you’re aged between 10 and 28 now’s your chance. The UK football trials work with the UK’s finest UEFA licensed coaches to help take you from player to pro.