Who invented football? No, not the British!

Some people might think that football originated from Brazil or Britain, but you would be shocked if I told you that it did not originate there.

I tried to search for the origins of the sport that we love because I am a curious person, and I love to read a lot. Few weeks ago I started reading a book called:

Why is Soccer played 11 against 11

The first topic was what I have been searching for in some time … Yay! I finally found it!

What is Cuju?

We go back in time, and I do not mean to the beginning of the 20th century. We go way earlier than that. The roots of football began in ancient China at the time of the Han Dynasty (2nd or 3rd BC). The activity was called “Cuju” which was practiced in the city of Zibo. This is the first ever soccer activity we heard of.

The aim of this game was to shoot a ball made of feathers and hair towards a small net. The net was about 40 cm in size and 10 meters high.

The players were pushing the ball using the legs, feet, chest, back, and shoulders. They did not do so with the hands or their palms. According to a British anthropologist, the invention of the “Cuju” dates back to 2000 or 2500 BC.


The grandfathers

Around 500 BC, the Cuju was placed as part of the pastime during military exercises. However, China not the only place that had a football-related activity. In Japan, they had “Kemari”, and Greeks called it “Epislcyros”. As for the Romans, they called it “Harpastum”. All of these activities are the grandfathers of what we know as modern football.

When we talk about ” Harpastum “, the Roman writer Cicero said there is a gruesome story. The story is about the death of a man who cut his neck after the ball entered through the barber’s window. The ball struck the knife that led to the moment of his death.

Games involving a ball evolved into the English version that we know about soccer or ‘Football’. Some say that the first ball that rolled on British soil was imported from a person who accompanied General Julius Cesar. Others say that the ball was the head of a member of the Roman army, who was killed in battle.

100’s of players in one game?!

From the Middle Ages to the modern era, football was played in various forms in Britain, and players used both their hands and feet. In addition, it featured teams of 20, 50 or even hundreds of participants. Sometimes the participants would be from neighboring villages and play in the streets and parks of their villages. A team of married and single men was also a common practice. They did not use any goal post at the time, but the objective was for the player to carry the ball in their hands or throw it towards a specific point such as a tree, a river or in the middle of the village. Was this activity more like a rugby football?

Although football was banned by kings at that time, it was practiced in schools and universities, and began to become famous. It developed further in the nineteenth century, but when did its name become “football”?

Football was in the Middle Ages and in the first half of the nineteenth century it was made from pork and ox meat, as the meat was inflated and covered with feathers! Yuck?!

There are several other stories, such as the Irish story about football being made from the stomach of criminals who were hanged. Yuck Yuck Yuck?!

The birth of the first rubber ball!

At the World’s Fair in Paris in 1855, Charles Goodyear presented the inflatable ball, which won a gold medal for this invention. Similarly, the British manufacturer of sports goods transformed the American invention in 1866 to obtain the first “Number 5” ball with the specifications and dimensions of the football that is used in matches today. It was this ball, which is almost perfectly spherical, that gave birth to the foot-only game, soccer.

rubber ball

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