People have been playing with balls since ancient times. Through the ages, many civilizations have played games similar to soccer and have contributed to the evolution of the game.
The earliest ancestor of soccer is thought to be cuju, which literally means “kicking the ball with your feet”. Played by men and women of all social classes during the Han dynasty, this game involved controlling a ball filled with animal feathers with one's feet, without the use of hands.
In North America, “football" is called soccer in order to avoid confusion with American and Canadian football.
In ancient Greece people played episkyros, a game that consisted of kicking and throwing a ball on a defined field. A variation of the Greek game, harpastum was a ball game played in the Roman Empire. This version was much less structured than today’s soccer game and had somewhat unclear rules.
Inspired by cuju, kemari was introduced in Japan in the early 7th century. The objective was to keep a buckskin ball in the air as long as possible using only your feet.
In the French Middle Ages, soule, a combination of soccer and rugby with the objective of putting a ball into the opponent's cage, was a very brutal sport where almost any blow was allowed.
At the end of the 15th century, calcio fiorentino emerged in Italy. The object of the game was to carry a round ball into the opponent's net. Because there were almost no rules, matches were often stopped because of a burst ball or serious injuries.
During medieval times, soccer balls were usually made from the bladder of a pig or other animal, and filled with straw or inflated with air.
In 1855, Charles Goodyear designed the first soccer ball, made of vulcanized rubber. As a result, the ball was hardened and became spherical.
Less than 10 years later, in 1863, the British codified and organized the sport with the founding of the Football Association. From then on, soccer emerged within the bourgeois classes, but was democratized at lightning speed during the industrial revolution when the working class started to play soccer thanks to the implementation of half-holiday Saturday afternoons. The simplicity of the sport quickly caught on with the proletarian class. From the poorest parts of England to the less affluent parts of France, soccer continues to gain followers.
In 1900, soccer was among the first team sports to be included in the Olympic Games.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup is now one of the most watched sporting events in the world.
Today, soccer is a universal and unifying sport that appeals to all generations, and where collective effort prevails over individual talent. It is also an excellent activity to keep fit as it involves cardio, balance, and agility.