viernes, 13 de diciembre de 2013


By Carlos F. Ramírez


Whether we want to look deep into the origin of our football of today (or Soccer as the Americans like to call it) or simply want to enjoy playing or watching it, it helps to understand the importance it has today by mentioning that the first known record of the game, dates back to English documents of 1175.


Very soon after that it was forbidden by the kings Edward II and Richard III, saying that it led to a decline in archery!  Apparently the players did not take the Royal prohibition seriously because kings constantly had to make laws to try to stop the game.

Yet, the kids paid little attention to the kings and went on playing on the streets.  A print of the 18th Century shows London apprentice-workers playing in important avenues of the city.

One can say that the game was “legalized” when it moved from the streets to grass fields in the schools.


Famous schools of England like Eton and Winchester still play with the rules that allowed the game under some strict rules.  The same thing happened with many who played on the streets and fields.  Some of those “playing grounds” included a couple of pillars as goals, an endless game since the ball bounced back and forth from walls.  We can imagine what kind of matches were those, kicking the ball to enter under two upright pieces of wood joined by a piece of tape across the top.  The important matches with the players wearing caps (it was impossible to head the ball);

long sox covering the whole leg, enormous shin-guards strapped around the stockings and – naturally! – a referee  wearing a bowler black hat and carrying a walking stick!  Actually there is an old print of football showing a player wearing a monocle while he kicks the ball!


But the game had spread around so quickly – rules or not rules – that the Football Association was born in 1863 in England, when many clubs and schools agreed to play against each other with the same set of rules.  This brought along the introduction of fast balls of different sizes; and the first football shoe appear since it was very difficult  to keep together the pieces of leather skins that were used to protect the legs.


The last important struggle on how to play the game, ended  by the middle of the 19th Century when the advocates of handling the ball to kick it, accepted that it should be only kicked.  The different games were known as “rugger” and “soccer”.  It was quick the change since the popularity in universities was jumps ahead of  the “street teams”.  Members of the colleges of Sheffield, London, Cambridge, Nottingham and Lancashire got together and soon the “Football Association” was created.  Non-handling code and kicking the ball under rules were born thanks to the join efforts of all those schools.  How it developed into the game we know today will be explained in our next commentary when we will also talk a little about the Italian version they call “calcio”. 

Original appareal to play Soccer

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