viernes, 10 de enero de 2014


(Part 1)




My friend Carlos Ramirez asked me to go back in history and recall the formation of the Football Association in England.   It was long ago, October 26, 1863.  But before its creation two important events took place: the publication in 1862 of the set of rules called “The Simplest Game”.  It was written by one of the participants in the original Cambridge movement of 1846 that was looking for ways to promote and clean “The Game”: John C. Thring.  He was responsible to write the original Ten Rules of the Game.

Soon after in early October 1863, came an advanced version of regulations from Cambridge, entitled ‘Cambridge University Football Rules’ drawn up by a 9 people Committee representing six universities.

Naturally when the Football Association had their first meetings both “The Simplest Game” and the Cambridge Rules received much consideration.  It is interesting to know that if they did not agree to a specific point, that since up to that time the all-important governing authority of a game was still in a nebulous state.

If this first attempt to unify criteria about two different games, “rugby” and “football association” had been successful, we would have ended with one single game: Association Football or what some countries call Soccer.  But there was no agreement between the two groups on the rules Law IX and Law X.  Both of these laws are as of today responsible that two different games exist, when it could have turned out to be a single game: Rugby and Association Football.

What was the difference of opinion?  Read how the above mentioned rules read:


Rule IX: A player shall be entitled to run with the ball towards his adversaries’ goal if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball on the first bound; but in the case of a fair catch if he makes his mark, he shall not run.


Rule X:  If any player shall run with the ball towards his adversaries’ goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at liberty to charge, held, trip or  back him, or wrest the ball from him; but no player shall be held and backed at the same time.


Please note how much of the Rugby game is contained within these two laws.

Yet the “Cambridge Rules” bore no mention of running with the ball, and though charging was permitted, holding, pushing with the hands, tripping up, and shinning were taboo.

These were the two twin rocks in which the two opposing groups within the Football Association finally split.

Thus the fifth meeting of the FA was in that December 1863.  It was a stormy meeting and the rival parties were near divorce.  Three members were in support of the Cambridge rules, provided rules IX and X were expunged from the original draw law.   But against them was a group led by two members of the group (for the sake of history their names were Campbell, Hon, Treasurer; and W. H. Gordon, both of the Blackheath Club).


In my next commentary I will narrate to the fans of The Americas, how the discussion of some 150 years ago ended.

Cover of the first publication of the Rules in 1863

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