History of Football

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Historical Development of Football

To analyze the point which football reaches nowadays, we should know its historical development and in which conditions it became an industry better. British people, whose football history considered as modern football history as they are the inventor of it, have a great impact on football.

They have started to develop football during the 2nd half of the 19th century and create a huge sector.

Although there were some people in 2000 BC in Chine who have been running after a thing like a ball, it is believed that the first game which is played with a ball was in 600 BC. It was referred to as a very wild and harsh game in ancient Greek literature and it is called as ‘’Harpaston’’. Harpaston means handball in ancient Greek and it is considered as an ancestor of Handball, rugby and American football. It only had one rule. Players got a point if one of them passed the line with a ball in his hand and the other team’s main aim was to prevent this no matter what. Romans added hitting the ball with feet into the rules of this game and called it ‘’Harpastum’’. Afterward, during Julius Caesar era they brought this wild game which was seen as a kind of fight to the UK, and this was the beginning of the modern football.

Inventors of Football

The history of harpastum being a popular game which trails masses and being named ‘’football’’ have started in UK during medieval. The first official document in UK about the people who were running after a ball which is made by pigskin was in 1170. II. Edward, who was trying to conquer Scotland during 14th Century, was the first person who prohibited football in 1314 as he thought that it would have a bad impact on British youth. He thought that the young British people running after a ball could have a bad impact on them on registering for the army. This prohibition was followed by third Edward on 1331 and forth Henry on 1388. People who got caught while playing the football had to pay 20 penny and were punished with 6 days of jail. Game have started to be called as ‘’football’’ on 1409 in English. The prohibitions about football could not be effective because of the great interest of the society.

Because of the strict rules for systematizing the country again after the long religion wars during Oliver Cromwell era, football went into a standstill period with other popular sportive activities of the period such as horseracing, cockfight and wrestling. However, after the death of Oliver Cromwell on 1660, football became a part of the daily life routine of the British people in time.

Cambridge Rules

Football, in other words ‘mob football’ in that era, which was the activity of masses that were running after the ball aimlessly without a rule or standard despite the intense prohibitions and punishments, evolved into a game with rules after the British schools such as Eton, Westminster, Harrow, Shrewsbury, Winchester and Charterhouse wanted to create teams and play football against each other. When the rules which were set up by these schools were different from each other as there were not a code which could unite them, and when football games between these teams were played in a chaos which did not allow competition, the representatives of the schools which have football teams came together at Cambridge University on 1848 and negotiated on the first rule set of football which was called ‘’Cambridge Rules’’. After that time, it became a must for football players except goal keepers hitting the ball only with their feet and football players who were at the same team should have worn the same kinds of uniforms.

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First Football Club: Sheffield

While football rules were standardized, football clubs were starting to have a role in history stage. Until 1862, 15 other teams followed the first football club in the world Sheffield FC which was established in 1857 and these football clubs had started to hold matches with each other under the name of Sheffield Union and depending on the rules which are created by Sheffield FC.

In 1862, Cambridge rules were revised and lots of school teams did not accept to obey these new rules. One of the teachers of Uppingham College, inRuthland region John Charles Thring published his 10 rules under the name of ‘’The most simple game’’ in 1862. These rules were integral rules which did not contain violence such as the rule of one can only kick the ball not the player. These rules had a great acceptancy from other schools.

First Football Association

After the establishment of lots of new football clubs, it became a must to have a regulatory and administrative organization for standardizing the rules of football. This is why British football association called Football Association was established. Barnes, Blackheath, Perceval House, Kensington School, the War Office, Crystal Palace, Forest, the Crusaders, Charterhouse and No Names of Kilburn teams were making a history with attending the first meeting of the FA in 1863 October to create the rules of modern football. At this first meeting, lawyer Ebenezer Cobb Morley who were established Barnes Football Club in 1858 were chosen as the first Secretary of FA. At the second meeting on November, draft rule set of 23 rules were represented to the participants by Morley. These rules were actually a mixture of the rules which were used by football clubs until that time.

After the intense arguments among the participants, FA published ‘’the Rules of Football’’ which would be binding for all the football clubs in the country on 8 December 1863. With these rules, football clubs which thought that it was necessary to hold and throw the ball also with hands for improvement of the game and which thought that playing the game only with feet would be boring had created a ‘’Rugby Union’’ with their own rules and present it to UK to spread Rugby in Australia and New Zealand.

Rules Were Written Again

The first rules set which were establish by FA in 1863 consisted of 13 items and it determined the football fields’ maximum length as 200 yard, width as 100 yard and the distance between the poles as 8 yard. Moreover, concepts which can be considered as a foundation of modern football such as determining the team which will start the game first with pitch and toss, centre point, kickoff, valid and invalid goals, freekickand uniforms were entering in football literature for the first time.

In 1870, with the addition of the goal keeper, teams have started to consist of 11 football player. In 1871, referees have started to join the games and came to an operator position for the FA rules in the field. In 1982, the rules of the game rewritten by FA and the job definition between goal keepers and other football players were cleared and goal keepers have started to use their hand to protect their goal.

First Football Tournament

FA had organized the first tournament with elections which is called ‘’FA Cup’’. 12 football teams, Wanderers, Royal Engineers, Hitchin, Queens Park, Barnes, Civil Service, Crystal Palace, Hampstead Heathens, Great Marlow, Upton Park, Maidenhead andClapham Rovers attended to this tournament. Every team should pay 21 schilling. As it was too costly to travel for the FA Cup, teams from far regions such as Nottingham and Sheffield and in the finals Wanderers which won the Royal Engineers 1-0 won the cup.

Football Reaches the Outer Limits

The facts that cause football’s irrepressible development were: Establishment of FA, standardizing the rules for acceptance of the schools and team clubs generally, the easiness of playing football in everywhere, in every weather condition by people in every age. Moreover, railways which had been developed since 1840 made masses travel cheaper in UK also helped football’s development.

With the convenience which is brought by railways, Football have reached its outer limits and was spreading all around the world starting with Scotland, Ireland, Wales and continued also with the contribution of the British sailors to France, Spain, Italy, Germany and from Germany to all Europe. It was also spreading through Australia, Canada, South America, Argentina and Brazil as British people were building railways in these countries. Football, which had a great entrance into the international stage, have started to be called ‘’beautiful game’’ in Brazil immediately. The first national football game was in 1872. It was also the year in which football ball size standardized by FA. The first national game was at Quenns Park in Scotland, between UK – Scotland and ended with no score. Scottish Football Association was built in 1873 and Wales Football Association was built in 1876.

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Football Era Have Started

Fa Cup made football popular in UK and it has started to be called as ‘’national sports of UK’’ and have started to be played by wide masses passionately and followed by spectators excitedly.

From 1863 the establishment of FA until 1872 FA Cup, only 15 football clubs were members of FA and were playing their football games according to FA rules. Sheffield Union which consisted of 26 members and other independent football teams were playing their games with their own rules. The success of the first football tournament in history made Sheffield Union attend to FA in 1877 and when it was 1881 FA members number was 128. 80 of them were from South, 41 of them from North of the UK, 6 of them were from Scotland and 1 from Australia.

Meanwhile FA was adapting new rules into the game and continued to improve football. In 1877, football games were limited with 90 minutes. In 1878, referees have started to use whistle. In 1882, all teams have started to use crossbar and a short time later, they have started to use net between the bars.

First Team: Blackburn Rovers

All these fast developments which followed each other in a short period as 30 years put football in another way. After the FA Cup match between Preston North End and Upton Park on 1884, Upton Park team lodged a complaint to FA with an assertion which stated that Preston team members are not amateur football players who play football just for pleasure, but they are professional football players who play football in return for some money.

Directors of Preston FC accepted that the players were getting money in return for their services but they also stated that this situation is a general application for football matches and this situation could not be considered as a code violation. FA decided that the concept of professionalism is not proper for recent football standards and exported Preston from the tournament.

Preston took along the teams which pays their football players such as Aston Villa and Sunderland and in October 1884, threatened the FA to leave the association and to create another union. FA created a subcommittee which includes also managers from Preston to examine this sensitive situation.

After the evaluation FA declared that it finds beneficial for football to make professionality legal in July 1885 with some determined limitations. One of these limitations is that the clubs could only make payment for the football players who live in the same place where that football club is or maximum 6 miles far away football players who have lived in the same region at least 2 years.

After professionality is legalized, Blackburn Rovers became the first football club which is recorded itself as a professional football club at FA and became a representative of professional football clubs with paying its football players 615 pounds during 1885-86 football season.

First Football League

Making payment to football players created a serious rivalry between the clubs as there were limited good players during that era. This sudden increase in costs of football clubs created a must. A must to organize football games every weekend in front of a crowded spectator.

Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Evertonand Preston North End came together to discuss the ways to increase the revenues of the clubs on April 1888 and on September 1888 they have decided to create the first league of the world after discussing different alternatives. From that decision on, each 12 team have started to have matches, one in their field and one in other teams’ field on the weekends.

Society’s Game Sold-out

British working class people finally retrieved an activity to spend their Saturday afternoon cheap and entertaining by means of the league matches which were started at 15.00 on Saturdays. This weekend activity would lead reconstruction of society and in 20th century it would become an important industry. Football, which is played without rules and illegally for years, was fastly spreading between people and was becoming the game of the society.

History of Football

We have mentioned about the period starting with ancient Greeks to analyze football better and understand the recent point where football reach. Now we will examine the development of football from 20th century to the establishment of UEFA.

On 8 September 1888, the champion between 12 teams of the first football league in the world was Preston North End with 18 winnings and 4 deuces. The team had no defeats and was 11 points ahead of the team which became the 2nd. Preston, which also won FA Cup at the same year and became champion again in 89-90 football season was a very successful team because managers started to bring the best athletes from UK, Scotland and Wales with high payments earlier than other teams.

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Preston North End which became champion of the first league without a defeat (1888-89 Season)

Teams like Derby Country, Sunderland and Aston Villa which had more budget than Preston and figured out the tactics of Preston would transfer the football players of Preston in the following years and Preston could not win any league afterwards.

In 1891-92 football season, teams increased to 14. To help the referees who became the only ruler of fields, side referees were included into gams and penalty concept has been born. Besides, tricks to cheat the referees started to be seen during those times.

During 1892-93 season, number of the league increased at 2. Original league was called Division 1 and there were 16 teams and 2nd league which consisted of 12 teams had a lower classification and named as Division 2. In 1893-94 Season, 2. League team number increased to 15 and teams which will trail masses in the future such as Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle United have started to take a place in the leagues for the first time. In 1898-99 Season, both of the leagues team number increased in 18 and Relegation was tied up with a rule. First 2 teams of the 2nd league was having the place of last 2 teams of 1st league on the next season. Aston Villa that had 5 championships between 1888-1899, attracted attentions as the most successful team of the first years. Afterwards, Liverpool football team became the champion for the first time in 1900-1901 season and until 1991-92 season that Division 1 was leaving its place to Premier league, it became champion for 18 time and broke and shattered a record.

Railways and Fans

During the beginning of 1890s a qualified worker was getting less than 2 pounds in a week. A football league match costed 6 pennies and other entertaining alternatives such as cinema and theatre was 3 pennies. As football league managers did not want people who had low income coming to games, they were keeping the tickets expensive on purpose and also because of the high costly transportation, followers of the football matches were usually qualified work class people which were representing the middle class and games were followed by averagely 3 thousand people.

With the improving in railways, cost of the trips between cities decreased and the phenomenon of the ‘’football fans’’ showed up with people who have started to follow the football club’s matches every weekend wherever it is. In 1901, FA Cup game between Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United broke a record with 114 thousand people who watched the game.

Football Spreads around the World

Effects of the first football league have started to spread around the world also with the effect of UK’s sovereign power. The first football league out of UK have started to be played in Denmark in 1889. Argentina followed Denmark in 1892. In 1893, first football club of Italy, Cenova, was established and in 1898 Athletico Bilbao, the first football team of Spain was established. These developments was followed by France, Germany, Spain, Holland and Belgium with the tens of other teams.

With the spreading of football and establishment of the football teams, international football matches have started to be played and ‘’national team’’ concept showed up. ‘’Home Championship’’ football tournament which was considered as the first international football tournament was between countries which created UK such as Britain, Scotland, north Ireland and Wales in 1884 and this tournament had continued its existence until 1984.

Football has started to improve fastly in the world just like in Europe. The first football game out of Europe was played in Argentina with the attendance of British workers which were building the railways in the countr according to the records. When you look at the histories of most of the football teams which are known today, you can see that British citizens’ great impact on them. The most beautiful example is Corinthians Football Club in Brazil. This London based amateur football club’s football players decided not to attend British Football League or FA Cup and instead they have decided to attend Amateur Football Federation and have decided to make a world tour and succeed to affect a group of people in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This small but passionate group have started to call themselves ‘’Corinthians Paulista Sports Club’’ in 1910 and became the most important club of South America and the world.

First Olympics

Olympic Games which were arranged for the first time in 1896 in Athens. As football was still in developing period on the basis of national teams it was not included in Olympic Games.

Football was included in Olympic Games for the first time in 1900 at Paris. UK, France and Belgium sent teams for the Olympics and had golden, silver and bronze medals.

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Establishment of FIFA

On 21 May 1904, at the center of French Football Association in Paris, ‘’International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)’’ has established and 7 founder countries Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland took their places in this first international football organization. Germany attended to the organization immediately, however the inventors of the football, British people behaved coldly towards this organization. Although they stood away for a while, in 1905 they became a part of the organization. When it was 1912, there were 25 countries which attended FIFA and after the First World War when there were no football games, in 1925, the number increased to 36.

First Signs of the Industry

As a result of the popularity in football around the world, the beautiful game has started to create its own industry with professional football players, football games which can be watched with a payment. In 1920 first football pool application has started in Birmingham when British people have started to guess the league matches’ scores.

On 28th May 1928 in Amsterdam, the dream of FIFA’s current minister Jules Rimet became real and FIFA congress have decided to organize first world cup. British football teams were not invited to the first world cup because of their boycott against FIFA and first world cup was organized in 1930 at Uruguay. 13 national teams had attended to the world cup and Uruguay won the first world cup in front of 93 thousand spectators.

Mitropa Cup

With the disintegration of Austria-Hungary Empire after the First World War, professional football leagues were established in many countries in Middle Europe. Afterwards, Mitropa Cup which came from the idea of supporting professional teams financially by an international club tournament, began to be played in 1927. AC Sparta Prag won the cup. In 1929 Italians took their places, on 1934 there were 4 teams in the cup from each country which participated the cup. After the Switzerland’s and Romanian’s participation, cup was interrupted by Second World War between the years of 194-50. Since 1951 the cup has started to be played again with the name of ‘’Zentropa Cup’’ but it could last only until 1991 because of the new tournaments.

After the Second World War, with the decrease of participation to Mitropa Cup leads an organization to a new tournament and teams of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal had started to organize matches under the name of Copa Latina. This tournament also had not lasted long and with the new tournament European Cup’s show-up on 1957.

Establishment of UEFA

After the Second World War, it was an international excitement to watch national teams squaring accounts with each other once in every 4 year and Europeans wanted to have this excitement. So with the attendance of 25 countries’ football federations, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) was established on 15 June 1954 in Basel, Switzerland. FIFA was established as one of the 6 continental organization of FIFA. Nowadays UEFA has 53 country members and it reached to a financial power as a responsible organization which organizes international tournaments between club teams in Europe and national teams such as Champions League, UEFA Cup, European Championship, Super Cup, European-South American Cup, Intertoto Cup, and UEFA Women Cup.

This was the beginning of the Football Industry.

First Football Rules

There were 17 official rules which still protect their validity in modern football in 1898. These are: Field, Ball, Number of the players, equipment of the players, referees, side referees, time of the football games, ball being in or out of the game, goal shots, offside, fouls, free kick, penalty, throw in, goal kick, corner.

First Night Match in 1953

During the summer of 1953, projectors were built for the field of British football team Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves). With the interest of spectators, football players had started to play football games in this field at nights with non-British teams and one of these games, the match between Honved from Hungary and Wolves was broadcasted live for the first time on TV by BBC.

Champion Clubs Cup

UEFA was started to work on a prestigious cup organization in which foremost European teams will attend. At the same time, French sports magazine L’Equipe started to prepare a project with a slogan of ‘’Time to determine the most successful team of Europe’’.

For the ‘’European Cup’’ project of L’equipe, foremost 18 teams of Europe was invited to Paris to set tournament’s rules on 2-3 April 1955. These clubs were: Kulüpler: Rot-Weiss Essen (Almanya), Chelsea FC (UK), SK Rapid (Austria), RSC Anderlecht (Belgium), KB Kopenhag (Denmark), Hibernian FC (Scotland), Real Madrid CF (Spain), Stade de Reims (France), Flamengo (Netherland), Honvéd SE (Hungary), AC Milan (Italy), Sporting CP (Portugese), 1. FC Saarbrücken (Germany), Malmö FF (Sweden), Servette FC (Switzerland), TJ Sparta Prag (Czechoslavakia), FKDinamoMoskow (SSCB) and FK Partizan (Yugoslavia).

How was Revenue Shared?

According to French’s proposal, each football matches’ revenues would be shared between local taxes and stadium fees. The rest of the revenue would be shared as 60% for home teams, 30% for all the participant teams and 5% for organization costs.

Consequently, the minister of Real Madrid FC which was the owner of one of the biggest stadium in Europe Santiago Bernabeu’s idea was accepted. This idea was to divide the revenues equally between 2 teams after each football game.

UEFA did not want to organize ‘’European Cup’’ as UEFA did not set up the rules itself and refused to adapt rules which were set up by European foremost club representatives. UEFA had started to organize an alternative tournament and it was planned that municipalities would pay all the tournament costs. UEFA stated that it will organize a new European Tournament under the name of ‘’Inter Cities Fairs Cup’’ in a meeting on 10 April 1955 in Basel. UAFE representatives and municipality parliaments attended to the meeting and UEFA announced that various football teams from Barcelona, Basel, Birmingham, Brussels, Budapest, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Lausanne, Leipzig, London, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Vienna and Zagreb.


FIFA Steps in

FIFA understood that there are conflicts in Europe gathered ‘’Directors Committee’’ which was the highest decision maker in world football on 7 May 1955 in London and tried to end the chaos in European football. In this urgent meeting, 3 different European tournaments were accepted officially. These 3 tournaments were L’Equipe Tournament, Inter Cities Fairs Cup and Mitropa Cup. FIFA’s conditions to accept the L’Equipe Tournament was:

  1. Participant teams should be confirmed by their own countries’ football associations.
  2. Tournament should be organized and controlled by UEFA.
  3. As the name ‘’European Cup’’ was reserved for the future football tournament which will be played by national teams, the name of the tournament should be ‘’European Champion Clubs Cup’’.

First Winners of the Industry

On 17 May 1955 newly established ‘’European Champion Clubs Cup Management Committee’’ had a meeting in Madrid, accepted the conditions of FIFA and invited UEFA Minister Ebbe Schwarz from Denmark to determine the teams which would be invited to the tournament and certain dates of the football games. On 21 May UEFA representatives and management committee met in Paris and UEFA took the responsibility to organize this important organization which will be called as ‘’Champions League’’ in future according to the rules.

After all these developments, ‘’European Champion Clubs Cup’’ was organized firstly on 4 September 1955 between Sporting CP and FK Partizan in Lisbon and the score of the game was 3-3.

Real Madrid FC, with the outstanding performance of the team became the champion of the first European Champion Clubs Cup and from 1955 to today team became champion for 9 times.

Champions League

European Champion Clubs Cup provided basis to transform football into a great industry with the great increase of live broadcast revenues in following years. Most popular game of that era was in 1980 in Glasgow. Real Madrid defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 in Glasgow and this football match broke the records and took a place in history with 135.000 spectators in the stadium.

Main alteration of this most important and prestigious tournament was in 1992-93 season. Tournament was played with elimination base until that season but from that time on its name was changed into ‘’Champions League’’ and the tournament was changed into a mini league in which teams were grouped as fours before the elimination matches and play 6 matches on condition that one match will be in one team’s field and other one will be in its rival’s field.


Fairs Cities Cup which was organized starting in 1956 with the decision of FIFA lasted not long and the first champion was FC Barcelona. In 1971 UEFA changed the tournament’s name to UEFA Cup and revised the format of the tournament. UEFA Cup became the 2nd most important football tournament of Europe after Champions League.

After Fairs Cities Cup ended, it was determined to organize last play-off matches between the first champion of the tournament FC Barcelona and the last champion of the tournament Leeds United and FC Barcelona won the match and took the Cup. First UEFA Cup’s winner in 1971-72 season was Tottenham Hotspur and Super Cup’s winner was AFC Ajax. Super Cup was consists of one match between the winner of European Champion Clubs Cup and the winner of UEFA Cup.

UEFA organized a new tournament called ‘’Cup Winners Cup’’ which was played between the winners of other cups than their own league. AC Fiorentina became the winner. After 1999, Cup Winners Cup became a part to UEFA Cup.

European Cup

After the excitement of World Cup which has organized by FIFA since 1930 and hasaffected wide masses, UEFA wanted to transport this excitement into Europe. In 1958, after 2 years of elimination games between 17 teams, 4 teams reached the final of the first European Cup Tournament and SSCB national team won the European Cup which was organized in Paris.

Finals were played between 4 teams at the beginning. This number increased to 8 teams in 1980 and 16 teams in 1996. The team which won the European Cup most was Germany.

We can accept 1863 as modern football’s milestoneas it is the date of British Football Association’s establishment. This beautiful game had completed its historical development in almost 100 years.


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