Soccer is undoubtedly the biggest sport in the world.
Just about every country plays it with over 250 million players worldwide. Nielson’s World Football Report learned that more than four out of 10 people around the world consider themselves soccer fans. Events such as the FIFA World Cup regularly draw billions of fans in viewership.
So when was the most popular sport in the world invented?
While modern soccer — commonly known as association football — was formalized in England during the 19th century, variations of the game existed way before then.
The game of Kemari was played in Japan as far back as 600 A.D. while China played a game called Cuju during the period of the Han Dynasty which ruled from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. Both these games involved the kicking of a ball into a net to score a point.
Similar games spread around the world with the Native Americans having Pahsaherman, the Indigenous Australians having Marn Grook and the Moari’s having Ki-o-rahi.
However, as per FIFA, the aforementioned game of Cuju (also Tsu-Chu which translates to “kicking the ball”) is the earliest form of the sport for which there is evidence. Like the sport today, it involved using any part of the body other than the hands to get a ball into a net. Games were standardized and rules were established as well. It is also believed that Cuju may have been a training exercise for soldiers during that era.
When it comes to association football (modern soccer), the rules were formed in the 19th century to standardize the various forms of soccer in England. However, the history of the sport in England dates back to the eight century A.D. where it was known as medieval football.
So to answer when soccer was invented, it ultimately depends on what you’re specifically asking about — modern soccer or the first variation of soccer.
If it’s the former, it was 1863. If it’s the latter, soccer was invented over 2,200 years ago during the imperial dynasty of China.