A history of soccer, 'The beautiful game'
It's been called "the beautiful game." Soccer, the most popular sport in the world, draws an unwavering devotion from its fans. Yet soccer as a spectator sport has never quite caught on in Canada, despite growing youth participation rates and a series of professional leagues. Still, we've had star players and tasted World Cup play, and many immigrant communities have imported their passion to Canada. CBC Archives looks at soccer in the Great White North.
-Around 200 B.C., Chinese soldiers played a game that involved kicking a leather ball in to a net.
-The ancient Greeks and Romans both played games resembling soccer.
-In medieval England, villages played huge soccer-type games against each other, with mob-like matches often so violent and time-consuming that King Edward III banned the sport in the 1300s.
. The modern version of soccer - or "football," as it is known outside North America - can clearly be traced back to 19th century England. By the 1800s, football was being played at England's upper-class public schools and universities, with each school laying out its own rules. Some schools allowed players to carry the ball with their hands, while others didn't.
. In 1863, representatives from several London football clubs and schools met in a tavern to standardize the rules. It was there that the Football Association was born. They based their rules on the Cambridge University rules, which didn't allow players to carry the ball with their hands. The resulting game was called "association football." When the game became organized around the rest of the world, other countries followed those same basic rules.
. The Football Association is still the governing body of football in England.
. The game of rugby was an offshoot of football. In the 1800s, Rugby School in England was one of the schools playing the variation of football where players were allowed to pick up the ball and run with it. After the Football Association was formed in 1863, advocates of "rugby football" came together to crystallize their own rules, forming the Rugby Football Union in 1871.
. American football was derived from rugby, with its rules formalized in the 1870s and 1880s.
. Australian rules football had been developed earlier, in the 1850s. One of its founders had played football at England's Rugby School.
. The word "soccer" was originally a slang abbreviation for "association football." To differentiate association football from American (and Canadian) football, the game came to be commonly known as soccer in North America.
. In the 1982 book The Story of Soccer in Canada, Colin Jose and William F. Rannie wrote: "It was fortunate for soccer in Canada that only four years before Confederation there took place in England. an agreement on rules that were immediately available for adoption in the early days of the sport here. In the sparsely settled new Dominion the game was played wherever expatriate Britons went; except for the earliest playing of 'kicking ball' before 1863, the immigrants arrived with accepted rules and there was nothing to unlearn."
. Famous Brazilian soccer player Pelé coined the phrase "the beautiful game," according to the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations.
. Like the interviewee in this clip, many soccer fans around the world speak in glowing terms about the game, almost elevating it to a religious experience.
. "Some people think football is a matter of life and death.I can assure them it is much more serious than that," said Scottish footballer and club manager Bill Shankly in the Sunday Times in 1981.
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: May 30, 1993
Guest(s): Rogan Taylor
Reporter: Stephen Beard
Photo: National Archives of Canada
Last updated: June 13, 2012
Page consulted on March 28, 2013
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