Who Invented Soccer: How, Why, When, Where Soccer Originated

By Luís Miguel
Updated on

Depending on the continent you reside in, soccer (or football) is a passionate game with emotions running deep among its devout fans.

Undoubtedly, soccer is a popular sport played all over the world. The World Cup, viewed by billions of people worldwide, is a true testament to that fact.

Since I started watching and playing this popular game, I’ve come to realize there is so much amazing information buried in soccer history. 

In this article, I’ll be explaining everything you need to know about the advent of football and inspiring events over the years. Tag along.

Who Invented Soccer/Football in 1863?

In England, Ebenezer Cobb Morley is believed to have invented soccer. His invention is attributed to the fact that he is one of the original fathers of the Football Association and modern football.

He wrote to the Bells Life Newspaper proposing governance of a body for the sport that would be responsible for setting its standard rules. His writing led to the first meeting of the F.A. held in the Freemasons’ Tavern.

In 1863, Charles Wenford-Brown, who captained the England national football team and later became a sports legislator, also made attempts to kickstart the sport of soccer.

When Was Soccer Invented?

Soccer dates back to 206 B.C., making it one of the oldest sports in history. In addition, documents from Chinese soldiers indicate that they played Tsu Chu (kicking the ball) to enhance their training.

Soccer-type games have existed for a long time. However, the soccer we know today can be traced back to 1863. During this year, the Football Association developed a set of rules to guide how the game was to be conducted.

Where Was Soccer Invented?

Most people wonder where did soccer originate? The roots of modern soccer trace to the British Isles, where "folk football" games were played during the medieval era.

Nevertheless, several other references have been made to the origin of soccer.

For example, pictures depicting the Emperor of Taizu with his ministers playing Chinese football around (1235-1305) may be an indication that it originated from there.

Soccer may also have originated in Rome. In ancient Roman tombstones, there is evidence of ball drawings. The game played in Roman times appears to resemble modern rugby football.

Who Invented Soccer in England?

Originally, soccer hails from kicking games played in ancient civilizations. Its modern version came around England in the early nineteenth century.

In England, the invention of soccer is credited to public schools as they played a significant role in shaping the game. It’s here that attempts to codify the game started to take shape.

At first, the game involved handling and kicking the ball. Later, the game branched off into two separate sports: Association football and rugby football.

When Was the First Soccer Game?

The soccer game has evolved tremendously and had many first times. Below we shall look at various first soccer games generics that have happened in history.

The first official game administering Football Association rules was played on December 19th, 1863. The game was between Barnes Football Club and Richmond Football Club, and the outcome was a 0-0 draw.

Soccer quickly gained momentum and, in 1885, the first International match outside Britain was held. The game was between the United States and Canada, and Canada won the match 1-0.

In 1900, it was played in the Olympics Games for the first time, further garnering its popularity.

The newly established Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) also hit a milestone when they held the world’s first World Cup tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay, with just 13 teams.

History of Soccer

FIFA states that more than 240 million people worldwide play soccer. The 2022 FIFA World Cup attests this fact — the event was streamed and watched by billions of people worldwide.

So it is imperative that we investigate the origins of soccer and how far it dates back.

I shall discuss in depth the history of soccer to help you understand the transformation stages, from its shape to new rules and other development stages it has undergone.

The Earliest Records

The records of the history of soccer trace the game back more than 2000 years ago in ancient China, Greece, and parts of Central America.

The old ball was made from animal hides stuffed with hair or tiny rocks, whereas the goalpost was made from bamboo sticks. The net had a small opening where players would aim to get the ball through.

However, England is credited as the country where soccer began and transitioned into the game it is today.

Fashioning the Football Rules

In 1863, it was in England where a Football Association meeting was held, and uniform rules of the sport were put in place. Regulations were implemented, including forbidding tripping and touching the ball with hands.

The same year, the first soccer ball was invented by Charles Goodyear, made with rubber bladders or leather.

From England, the soccer idea spread across Europe and the Atlantic.

Notable school sports teachers August Hermann and Konrad Koch introduced the game to the Germans around 1874.

New versions came into existence, and there was massive evolution in football.

Due to the many football variations, there was a need for a single set of rules to govern the sport. Accordingly, the Football Association seized the opportunity and formulated how it should be played.

The First Official Game

On 19th Dec 1863, the first soccer match was held between Barnes Football Club and Richmond football club. The debut game was a historical moment as it set off the international recognition that soccer has accrued over the years. The game ended in a draw.

Rules were further enhanced in 1869 by the Football Association to exclude handling of the ball unless it’s a throw-in.

Football Goes International

Football continued to explode in growth, as it elicited passion from all over the world, prompting the first international match to be played.

The first international match held between England and Scotland was a very heated match that ended in a draw.

The first match outside Great Britain occurred between Canada and the United States. In Newark, Canadians were victorious as they won the game 1-0.

There was a further expansion of soccer when 12 countries joined and formed the football world.

In 1904, soccer was introduced as a game in the Olympics. FIFA became active in the Olympics four years later, in 1908.

Refereeing in Football

As the game continued to grasp its footing, soccer players were their own referees.

Playing and referring to the game at the same time proved disastrous, as soccer players fought and yelled at each other while making decisions.

This led the Football Association in 1878 to introduce referees to control the game. The referees made decisions about penalty kicks, free kicks, or ejecting players with unruly behavior from the match.

In 1886 and 1888, respectively, the offside rule and the introduction of penalty kicks were elaborated further to guide players to play more effectively.

The World Cup Awakening

Due to soccer’s popularity, in 1930 the first World Cup was held in Montevideo, Uruguay. The host country, Uruguay, won this tournament as they defeated Argentina 4-2.

Since then, the World Cup has been played every four years, and currently, FIFA World Cup is the sport’s most prestigious event having billions of viewers worldwide.

Impact of Women in Soccer

Women also actively shaped the soccer game and participated in the first FIFA Women’s World Cup (then called FIFA Women’s World Championship) in 1991, which was held in China.

The United States national team won the tournament against Norway, 2-1.

Consequently, women’s soccer was introduced in the Olympic games in 1996.

Notable Timelines In the History of Soccer

This section seeks to establish critical timelines that shaped modern soccer. So grab your popcorn, and let’s walk down the memory lane.

5000-3000 B.C.

Traces of evidence from China reveal that during the Han Dynasty, there was an imitation of the soccer we know today. A stuffed ball was used and kicked into a small hole, and like modern soccer, using hands was not allowed.

This is the earliest record of people playing soccer-like games.

2500 B.C. -1500 B.C. 

Ball images from Egypt tombs were possibly evidence of the existence of soccer games during the age of Baquet III. Interestingly, young women are said to be the players.

1000 B.C. – 500 B.C. 

There was a Japanese soccer version called ‘Kamari’. It was played with two to twelve players and used a ball with leather stuffings.

Ancient Greece soccer’s version was Episkyros, where two equal teams would try to throw the ball over the heads of other groups.

Roughly, during the 500 BC period, China’s Tsu Chu players and Japan’s Kashmiris teams were the first to have an international match of their own version of soccer.

600 – 1600 AD 

Creation of rubber balls by Mexico and Central America, and played in a court shaped like a capital I. In the middle of each wall, a mounting stone or wooden ring was to prevent the rubber from going through the ring.

700 AD

The soccer game version that was played in Britain by east of England locals, which involved kicking a defeated Danish prince during a war in the head using a ball. The games were violent to the extent of death, which prompted King Edward III to ban them in 1331.

Consequently, in 1424 King James 1 of Scotland also passed a law banning the game.

1500 AD

In Italy, teams of 27+ played the game, which involved kicking or carrying the ball to a goal line.


England made soccer legal again. 


Students from Eton College of England established rules for the game.


Formation of Cambridge rules: the rules were further standardized, and colleges and university students adopted new versions.


The birth of the Sheffield Rules, arguably the most important predecessor of the Football Association rules.


A sportsman called Ebenezer Cobb Morley wrote to the Bell’s Life newspaper proposing a body of governance for the sport that would be responsible for setting standard rules for the sport. His writing led to a meeting being held.

In October 1863, eleven London schools formed the Football Association. They outlined a single set of rules to administer any soccer match to be played among them.

Later that year, in December, disagreement about Football Association’s rules split football into two different sports: association football and rugby football.

1869 -1900

This period witnessed remarkable changes in soccer, such as excluding and handling the ball and introducing a penalty kick.

In addition, during this period, international matches were introduced, and soccer was presented at the Olympics for the first time.

The first stadium was built in England. The soccer stadium cost £8,090/$9,846/€9,387 and had a capacity of 7,000 spectators.

Referees were introduced in 1878 by the Football Association and were game controllers.


On May 21st, 1904, a meeting held in Paris with a delegation from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, and Switzerland led to the establishment of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).


The First World Cup is held. With just 13 teams, FIFA held the first World Cup tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay.


Controversies between FIFA and IOC (International Olympic Committee) resulted from the amateur definition and the team of strong countries refusing to travel to the Olympic games due to the cost involved.

As a result, soccer was scrapped from the program for the Olympics games held in Los Angeles.


Women also shaped soccer’s history as they participated in various tournaments.

An example is the Inaugural Women’s World Cup. It was held in China, in 1991, and won by the United States, which defeated Norway 2-1.

Another witnessed example is when the American Women’s Team won at the Olympics in 1996.


Passback rules were introduced: FIFA introduced rules to ban allowing the ball back to the goalkeeper to lift as it was deemed a waste of time, as witnessed in previous games.


Women’s soccer was introduced to the Olympics.


Goal Line Technology and financial fair play were introduced. The technology was introduced due to shots going over the line and not counting. A case example is Frank Lampard’s goal Vs. Germany at the 2020 World Cup.

The UEFA financial play regulations were introduced to regulate the professional clubs’ financial status.


On June 30th 2018, during the World Cup held in Russia, the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) was established.

The VAR is a match official in association football who reviews a referee’s decisions. The VAR system seeks to clear errors and seriously missed incidents that need to be corrected.


In the 2022 World Cup, the VAR wrongly ruled out Antoine’s Griezmanns, a late equalizer for France and Tunisia.

Guy wearing an SL Benfica jersey holding soccer ball over his head

Article by:

Luís Miguel

As a true soccer enthusiast, I’m Soccermodo’s team captain. My job is to make sure the site’s content is top-notch so that you, our reader, can focus solely on improving your game and reach new heights.