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As Machiavelli once said "Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results." It is these passions that we search for while delving into our history, a way of connecting to the great men and women who came before us. We reach back and learn from their mistakes and victories and gain a sense of belonging to the great cycle of life. For History Lovers is a place to explore our past and debate on the significance of major and minor historical events.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Origins of Football (Soccer)

Saturday, June 12, 2010
While the world turns its attention to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, I have decided to delve into the history of the beautiful game. While the exact origins of the game are unknown, both the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and  Romans as well as the Chinese and Japanese all had their own ball games, some of which were played with the feet. From there it expanded into Europe and flourished in England particularly throughout the medieval period. The Medieval version of football would be nearly unrecognizable to modern footie fans, as the pitch could be any size and each team could field hundreds of players as contests were usually between two villages and everyone was involved, even on occasion women. These matches were typically violent affairs with players frequently being punched, kicked and even stabbed as well as considerable damage to fences, hedges, fields and even houses and buildings when the game traveled. Football was banned in England between 1324 and 1667 but the ban was difficult to enforce and by the 18th century the mostly rural game had reached London. The establishment of what we know as football today is owed mostly to the British public school system in the 16th century who decided it was too dangerous for school children to play the game in the current form. From then onward the game went from being a mob game to a structured game with a specific set of rules. Within the next few hundred years the game continued to grow first with the invention of football clubs and competitions and then modern air filled balls and finally modern passing tactics. Beginning in Cambridge in 1848 new sets of rules began emerging as the game began splitting into different variations, some of these include Sheffield Rules, Australian Rules, Association Football (the modern game) and Rugby. Football would later be split again, this time in North America with the beginning of American Football in the 20th century. Today football is the most played and watched sport in the world and the World Cup is humanity's most treasured sporting event.

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