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The Origins of Football

The game we play today would not exist without many key players. Approximately 2000 years ago, the Aztec tribe played a game called tchatali, which involved trying to get a hard stone ball into a hoop above the ground - the catch was that they couldn’t use their hands, making the game 100 times harder. Players tended to use their feet instead, often resulting in broken toes. The losing team was frequently sacrificed to deities, with their heads getting chopped off.

Football was also influenced by a Chinese game called cuju, or Tsu Chu, which was played during the Han dynasty around 2,500 years ago as a form of military training. This was a game where you had to kick a somewhat softer leather ball made of fur and feathers. 

In 12th century England, a game called folk football was played, where you had to punch the ball instead of kicking it: many got injured, and the sport was eventually banned. But, in the 17th century, the government decided to repermit the sport, which was usually played in schools, but with a wide variety of rules. Confused by how other people played, four teenagers at Cambridge University made a set of rules and nailed it onto a campus wall. These would go on to become the famous Cambridge rules, which made the game better, safer and also distinguished it from rugby. Football grew more popular over the years, and was most commonly watched by richer people in society. As Britain’s empire grew, they brought football with them globally leading to many more teams, both internationally and domestically. In 1872, the first ever international match was played between England and Scotland - it ended in a draw. Almost 12 years later, there was the first ever international competition, a battle between England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. 

In 1904, FIFA was founded by seven national associations — Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The first ever championship was held in Uruguay in 1930, and Uruguay went on to be winners of the first ever World Cup.

This is a very condensed version of how football became the game we know and love today. 

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