Top 10 Facts – Football


The earliest evidence for an activity recognized
as a form of football is from 3rd century BC during the Han Dynasty in China. It was
a simple ball game known as Cuju where the objective was to kick a leather ball through
a small hole in a piece of cloth positioned a couple of meters above ground. It was originally
used and intended as a military exercise but the popularity of the game quickly spread
among the upper class. The game later spread to other nations and also inspired the Japanese
game Kemari in which people stand in a circle trying to keep a ball in the air by kicking
it for as long as possible. It’s essentially the same as kick-ups but with slightly different
rules. And clothes. Evidence for ancient games similar to football has also been found in places
like Greece and Italy. But it wasn’t until the 9th century that modern day football truly
began to take shape. Between the 9th and 13th century, an activity known as medieval- or
mob football spiked in popularity in England, Scotland, and France. Mob football is exactly
what it sounds like, large mobs (usually entire villages) would compete against each other
trying to get a small object, like an inflated animal bladder, to a specific location. And
with the exception of murder and manslaughter, almost anything was allowed to complete this
objective. The games got so violent and disruptive to non-participants that in 1314, King Edward
II issued a proclamation banning football in London. Many attempts to ban the games
would follow in all three countries, but the bans were not very effective as people just
kept on playing in secret. Beginning in the 16th century, a slightly different and familiar
form of football were being played at public schools across England. It was a lot less
violent than regular mob football and more strict regulations where soon established.
Things like only being allowed to use your feet, having a referee and a coach, passing,
dribbling, and having a goal with a designated goalkeeper on each end of the playing field.
Football began to transform into an organized sport rather than a chaotic riot. The problem
was that each school developed it’s own version of the game with slightly different rules.
For example at Rugby School, they preferred a more violent game where you could tackle
your opponents and still carry the ball in your arms and hands and thus Rugby and
Gridiron Football was born. Increasing attempts to unify and reconcile the various public school games were made and in 1848, the first written rules where penned at the University of Cambridge. These rules became widely adopted and in 1863 The Football Association was founded in London to continue to promote football under a unified set of regulations. As the sport became increasingly
popular all over the globe, a need for an international association became apparent
and thus FIFA was founded in France in 1904. Today it’s estimated that
3.5 billion people, or half the population of the entire globe,
are fans of football. Why is it that countries like the US and Canada
insist on calling the sport soccer while the rest of the world calls it football? It also
makes a lot less sense to call a sport football when it mostly consist of using your hands.
But it does make a bit more sense if you know where it came from. Calling the sport soccer
actually began back in England and here’s why. As The Football Association was founded
in London in 1863, the sport became officially known as Association Football. That was and
still is the full title of the sport. This was done to distinguish Association Football
from other variations of the game such as Rugby Football and Gaelic Football. But using
the full titles in conversation can be a bit tedious so shorthand names where used in their
place. And a popular conversational form of creating abbreviations at the time was by
applying the suffix “-er”. So Rugby Football became “rugger” and Association Football became “footer” or “socker”. Often spelled with a “ck” at the time. So the word soccer comes from the abbreviation of the word association (assoc.) found in the full title
of the sport Association Football. In 1998 a match in the capital of the Democratic
Republic of Congo was suddenly disrupted by a lightning strike. Now lightning strikes
during football matches are not exactly unheard of, but this one was definitely a unique case.
Not only did half the players on the field die as a result of being struck by lightning.
They where all from the same team. The other team remarkably left the match completely
unharmed. The local population, known to believe in things like charms and spells, was divided
over weather or not the team was cursed. And what further fueled this rumor was that the
game was tied 1-1 at the time of the incident and the team that died was the visiting team. The record for the highest scoreline of all
time in professional football occurred in 2002 in Madagascar and ended with a score
of 149-0. However, the reason for this absurd amount of goals was that the players of the
loosing team kept on kicking the ball into their own goal. They did this as a protest
against a referee decision. The previous record occurred in 1885, with a scoreline of 36-0.
The record for the largest victory in an international football match happened in 2001 between Australia
and American Samoa with a scoreline of 31-0. Just like the game in 1885, the reason for
the high score counts were because of the teams skill level being incredibly mismatched. To a lot of people, football is a big deal.
In places like Brazil for example it’s more or less comparable to a religion. And just
like a religion, this extreme passion for the sport can lead to some quite extreme situations.
A perfect example of this is the 1950 FIFA World Cup hosted in Brazil. In the finals,
it was Brazil up against Uruguay. For multiple days prior to the match both the press and
the general public assumed that Brazil would come out as the world champions. The organizers
of the event had even prepared a speech for when Brazil ultimately won. To everyone’s
surprise, Brazil lost the match with a final score of 2-1, resulting in one of the biggest
upsets in football history. So much so that some fans actually committed suicide by throwing
themselves off the stands at the stadium. And a noticeable wave of suicides where reported
in the days that followed. Brazilian newspapers and radio hosts even tried to ignore or deny
the fact that they had been defeated. The entire thing has become known as “Maracanazo”
after the name of the stadium. Even more dramatic, the 1970 FIFA World Cup
prompted a war between two nations. In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador met during the qualification
rounds for the upcoming World Cup. Honduras won the first game with a score of 1-0 which
sparked a lot of violence among the fans. El Salvador would go on to win the second
game with a score of 3-0 which ignited another wave riots and violence. Finally, a play-off
match took place which ended with El Salvador as the winner with a score of 3-2. Now, before
all of this, these two nations where not exactly friends. Issues over land reform, immigration,
and demographic problems where all rampant long before these games ever took place. So
when El Salvador won the final game, Hondurans began assaulting and harassing Salvadoran
immigrants all across the country as a sort of retaliation for losing the game. El Salvador,
seeing this as a form of genocide, dissolved all democratic relations with Honduras the
very same day, and launched an attack on the nation only two weeks after the final match.
The war lasted for 4 days until a cease-fire was signed, at which point more than 2000
people had died. Because of this, it’s become known as The Football War. The oldest football ball still in existence
was found during an excavation project at Stirling Castle in Scotland. It’s believed
to be around 450 years old and is made out of a pigs bladder and cow leather. Whenever the Mexican player Javier Hernández
plays a match, crime rates in Mexico actually drop significantly. Mexican police has discovered
that criminals across the country take a break from criminal activities to watch this national
hero play a match. Crimes like carjackings, muggings, and robberies all have a noticeable
drop whenever he’s on TV. Not only that but his appearance in a match even
increases Mexico’s birth rates. During the 1962 FIFA World Cup, a game between
Chile and Italy became infamously known as “The Battle of Santiago”. Tension between
the two nations and teams had built-up long before the game began and as a result, the
players became rather violent during the game. The first attack happening only 12 seconds
after the match began and later in the game one player even performed a dropkick-style
maneuver. The referee during the game was Ken Aston who did his best to control the
increasingly violent players. As a direct result of this violent match, Ken Aston later introduced
the idea of using yellow and red cards as a means of penalizing a player. Apparently
the idea came to him as he drove down a street and saw the green, yellow, and red traffic
lights. In 1863, the newly formed Football Association
in England stated that the goal posts for a goal should be 24 feet (7.32 m) apart. A
rule which still stands to this day. However nothing was said of the height of the goal.
The height was usually indicated by a string between the two posts but could theoretically
be limitless. Meaning that a goal could be scored at any height as long as the ball passed
in between the two posts. Of course, not having a standardized rule for the height resulted
in arguments and disagreements. It wasn’t until 1882 that a solid crossbar was required
at height of 8 feet (2.44 m). Which remains true to this day. However it is still not
a requirement (only mandated) for a goal in Association Football
to have a net.

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