My Youth Soccer Guide

Soccer History Timeline
Chronological Overview

2500 B.C.

  • Ancient China, the earliest mention researchers have found of soccer like the game states that balls made of animal skin were kicked through a gap in a net stretched between poles 30 feet high. Records indicate that tsu chu was played as a part of the emperor's birthday celebration.


  • Rome, Greece, Japan, and the Italians played a game called "harpastum" which they introduced to the British.


  • Mexico & Central America, the creation of the rubber ball was in Mexico & Central America. These people played games on a recessed court shaped like a capital "I". The court was 40-50 feet long with vertical walls several feet high. In the middle of each wall, was a mounted stone or wooden ring and the object was to project the hard rubber ball through the ring.


  • England, by the 12th Century, the game had become a violent mob sport with no rules and any sort of behavior was condoned.


  • England, King Edward II orders citizens to stop playing football.


  • Italy, the Italians played a game called calcio with teams of 27+ people. The game was simple: kicking, carrying or passing a ball across a goal line.


  • England, Queen Elizabeth I seriously bans football.


  • Italy, Giovanni Bardi publishes a set of rules of the game of "calcio".


  • Alaska & Canada, the native Eskimos played aqsaqtuk or soccer on ice. Balls were stuffed with grass, caribou hair, and moss. One legend tells of 2 villages playing against each other with goals 10 miles apart.


  • England, football became legal again and by the end of the 17th century it was the country's most popular sport.


  • USA, in the original Jamestown settlement native American Indians played a game called pasuckuakohowog, meaning "they gather to play ball with the foot." Beaches, a half-mile wide with goals 1 mile apart, served as playing fields for as many as 1000 people at a time. Games were often rough, resulting in broken bones, but no one could be identified because players disguised themselves with ornaments and war paint making retaliation close to impossible. It was common for games to be carried over from one day to the next with a feast for all at the conclusion of the match.


  • England, football wins royal patronage from King Charles ll.


  • USA, football was played among the Northeastern universities and colleges of Harvard, Princeton, Amherst and Brown.


  • USA, freshman and sophomore classes at Harvard had instituted an annual intramural football contest in 1827, played on the first Monday of the new school year. These games were evidently quite rowdy, as the event was known as "Bloody Monday".


  • England, the modern form of soccer originated. The sport grew among working-class communities and was seen as a way of keeping young and energetic kids out of trouble at home and in the school; they could let off steam and learn the values of teamwork.


  • England, the first Cambridge Rules are drawn up.


  • USA, Oneida Football Club; formed in Boston in 1862, was the first soccer club anywhere outside of England.


  • England, The Football Association is founded.


  • Sheffield FA played London FA in one of the first regional matches.


  • First international football match played between England and Scotland.


  • The four British associations agree on a uniform code and form the International Football Association Board.


  • USA, USA versus Canada, first international match played between teams outside of Great Britain.


  • The introduction of professionalism.


  • The Football Association starts training match officials. First meeting of the International Football Association Board.


  • The league system is inaugurated - professional footballers are allowed. Referees are given extensive powers of control.


  • Introduction of the penalty kick.


  • The Football Association sends its first representative team abroad. A German team visits England.


  • Delegates from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland established FIFA at a meeting in Paris on the 21st of May. The International Board, the authority over the rules and their interpretation continued under the jurisdiction of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, even though they were not affiliated with FIFA.
  • The Olympic Games of 1904 in St. Louis included soccer as an official Olympic sport where club teams competed under the national team banner. FIFA did not become active in Olympic soccer until 1908.


  • Football becomes an Olympic event.


  • FIFA becomes a member of the International F.A. Board.


  • Professionalism comes to continental European countries.


  • First World Cup with 13 teams in Uruguay.


  • At the 10th Olympiad in Los Angeles, soccer was eliminated due to a controversy between FIFA and the IOC over the definition of amateur and the reluctance of most of the strong soccer countries to travel to California because of the expense involved.


  • English FA Cup Final televised live by BBC.


  • Birth of European club competitions.


  • RAI begins regular Serie A transmissions.


  • First live worldwide TV coverage of the World Cup.


  • TV rights for European Cup Final (Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt) raise £ 8,000.


  • FIFA's membership reaches 100. World Cup television film flown out of Chile to Europe.


  • Action replay machines and videotape used at 1966 World Cup.


  • World Cup in Mexico beamed by satellite to Europe. Live league football pioneered in Spain.


  • Pelé retired from international competition after Brazil tied Yugoslavia 2-2 before 150,000 people at the Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium.


  • First FIFA World Youth Tournament in Tunisia (renamed World Youth Championship in 1981, for players under 20).


  • First FIFA U-16 World Tournament in China (renamed Under-17 World Championship in 1991).


  • Start of the FIFA Fair Play campaign.


  • First FIFA World Championship for Five-a-side Football in the Netherlands.


  • 167 countries around the globe buy Italia 90 TV.


  • First FIFA World Championship for Women's Football in China won by the USA.


  • Pelé, the most recognizable soccer figure in the world, is inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame along with John Nanoski and Dennis Long bringing the total to 194.


  • 32 billion watch USA 94 (cumulative total).


  • Major League Soccer (MLS) begins as the top USA pro-soccer league.


  • 37 billion watch FRANCE 98 (cumulative total).


  • Joseph S. Blatter succeeds Joao Havelange as FIFA President.


  • Women's World Cup Final in Los Angeles, USA beat China in front of 90,185 fans. This was the largest ever attendance for a women's sporting event in world history. The tournament had over 658,000 attendees and over 1 billion television viewers worldwide, thus not only putting women's soccer but also women's sport into mainstream society forever.


  • Brazil hosts the first FIFA Club World Championship, won by Corinthians of Brazil.


  • Korea and Japan co-host the first World Cup outside Europe and the Americas.

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