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.
But who was it that actually invented soccer?
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 other variations of early soccer saw the Native Americans having Pahsaherman, the Indigenous Australians having Marn Grook and the Moari’s having Ki-o-rahi.
However, according to FIFA, the game of Cuju (also Tsu-Chu which translates to “kicking the ball”) originating from China during the period of the Han Dynasty which ruled from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. is the earliest form of the sport for which there is evidence.
That would mean the origins of the sport of soccer was invented by the Han Dynasty during the imperial dynasty of China over 2,200 years ago. Historians have claimed that the sport was played even before then as far back as 5,000 years ago. But based on historical evidence, it is the Han Dynasty.
However, modern soccer is a different story. The sport that is watched and played today that is loved by everyone was formalized in the United Kingdom in 1863.
In October of that year, the Football Association was formed with the merging of 11 London schools and clubs. They met at the Freemason’s Tavern and established rules for the game with the first ever soccer match being played in December between Barnes Football Club and Richmond Football Club. The rest, of course, is history.
So to answer who invented soccer, 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 invented by the Football Association — a group of 11 London schools and clubs who met in 1863 to standardize the game. If it’s the latter, based on historical evidence, it was China’s Han Dynasty during the period of 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.