The game of soccer has changed a lot since it started. The game soccer originated in England in 1000, but some people believe it may have started before the 19th century, with the Ancient Romans, Greeks, and Chinese. In England, towns and villages would play against each other, half of the village on one side and the other half on the other side. The object was to get the ball into the other villages territory. Sometimes the “ball” would be a pig’s bladder or the skull of an enemy. The game got very violent very soon and lots of kings tried to ban soccer, but they always failed, because kicking and dribbling a ball around is just too much fun. Then, King Edward the Second, in 1314, threatened to throw anyone playing soccer in jail or even kill them because the game was too violent. But, even this did not work. People like kicking a ball into a goal too much, it was fun and it felt good.
The modern history of soccer dates back to the mid 1800’s. People played ball and goal games throughout England. However, in every town the rules were different. Some places allowed carrying the ball; in others it could only be kicked. Some towns allowed pushing and tripping of opponent; others did not. Imagine how hard it was when teams from towns with different rules met. The first attempt to create unified rules came in 1862. The next year brought the first meeting of the Football Association, an English group that still exists today. The result of these meetings was that two distinct games emerged. One did not allow holding the ball. We now call that game soccer. The other did allow holding the ball. It became rugby.1
By the 1880’s soccer players were being paid to play. At the same time, the game of soccer started to spread around the world. At the height of the British Empire, British sailors, soldiers, businessmen, teachers, doctors, and even tourists traveled the seas in record numbers. Everywhere, the British influence was huge, and it extended to soccer. Men on every on continent wanted to play this new exciting game. British sailors first played soccer in Brazil in 1874. A few years later, Charles Miller, a son of English immigrants, traveled from Brazil to England to study. He returned to South America with a few uniforms and soccer balls, and suddenly everyone there wanted to play too. The rest is history.1
British Colonists introduced the game of soccer to Africa and Asia. It spread throughout Europe when Hungarians, Germans, Italians, Italians, Danes, and Dutchman brought soccer back to their countries from England. By the beginning of the 20th century, there was hardly a spot on Earth where soccer was not played. In 1904, several countries met in Paris to form an international organization. They called it FIFA, which was French for Federation Internationale de Football Association. The British stayed away from the meeting. They wanted to keep control of soccer for themselves. But by then soccer had become a world game, and they could not control it anymore. World War 1 slowed soccer’s growth, but as soon as the war was over people were playing again. Now countries were competing against each other in stadiums instead of on battlefields. By the end of the 1920’s interest was high for a world championship.1
Four European countries applied to host the first World Cup. But, FIFA gave it Uruguay, because Uruguay would be celebrating 100 years of independence. Uruguay built a new stadium for the occasion in their capital, Montevideo, and paid all travel and hotel expenses for the countries that came. However, since Uruguay was a three week boat ride from England, only 13 teams applied. Among them was the United States. There was not qualifying tournament. Everyone was accepted. The Americans reached the semi finals and was beaten by Argentina. Then, Uruguay beat Argentina in the finals to win the first World Cup. Four years later Uruguay became the only World Cup champion not to...