Since 1930, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has organized the global World Cup Soccer Tournament every four years. There was a two tournament break during WWII, but otherwise, the World Cup has been growing strong ever since. What started as a competition between 13 international teams has blossomed into a wild ride with 64 teams angling to score the coveted cup. So, just where did soccer come from?
The Early Kickers
While they weren’t busy coming up with new philosophies or conquering the world, the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans were kicking around a pig’s bladder and calling it a game. This was Episkyros and Harpastum, respectively and apparently, it was all the rage but nobody bothered to write down any rules.
Flash ahead to the Han Dynasty in 206 BC China and you’ll find a game called Cuju, which had players using only their feet, chest, back or shoulders to get a ball through a net. So, that’s soccer, right? Not quite. To get to the modern version of soccer you have to travel back to England in 1848. That is when the folks at Cambridge University took a break from their studies to come up with the Cambridge Rules. This pulled together all the lose kinds of game play that had been going on in English schoolyards for centuries. Now, with rules to follow “football” became standardized. This lead to the formation of The Football Association in 1863.
The first match was held at a Freemason’s Tavern. Only one school showed up with a team but it didn’t take long for this game to spread. Across the pond, America was busy coming up with its national pastime of baseball but in England it was football all the way.
“You’re Outta Here!”
Like every major sport, a player can be ejected in soccer for unsportsmanlike conduct. The determination of exactly what conduct might be is left up to the referee. It was during the 1970 World Cup that featured the introduction of the yellow and red card. When the ref whips out a yellow card, it’s a warning and the player is on instant probation. Get flashed a red card in the same game and it’s off to the locker room. Once a player has been kicked out of a game, there can be no substitutes brought in. That should make you rethink the elbow to the face of your opponent.
Since that first World Cup in 1930, there have only been eight countries who consistently take home the cup. Top of the list is Brazil with five victories and Italy with four. The closest the U.S.A. has ever come to winning is third place. As for the most goals ever scored in a World Cup game, that would be 12 at the Austria vs. Switzerland game in 1954 (Final score 7-5 Austria.)
There was a time back in the 80s, when FIFI tried to ban jersey swapping on the field. They didn’t want shirtless players running about. That ban didn’t last long. Just like in baseball, hockey and American football, soccer fans can show their appreciation of their favorite team by wearing the jersey of their favorite player.