July 17, 2016
Football in Europe
Football is a game of fierce competition, sportsmanship and massive international followings. Since it holds a title of debatably being one of the most popular sports in the world, many don’t know where its origins come from or the reasons why it’s played as it is.
The origin of football can be traced back to ancient history, over 4,000 years ago. The earliest records of football was found in Ancient Egypt. Due to ancient drawings and discovery of balls made of linen or entrails in tombs, it was safe to say that the Ancient Egyptians created a game similar to football which was believed to be played to celebrate the earth.
Similarly, a game played by Aztecs in 1200 B.C.E. ‘Ullamaliztli’ was played in a court with an average of 80 ft in length. The players would wear protective gear made of leather and wood for the loins and players were only allowed to hit the ball with their hips. The ball itself weighed roughly 9 lbs so the players had to be careful when in the game. Unlike football (gladly) this was a game of life or death. Usually prisoners of war would be forced into a game of Ullamaliztli and would literally fight to the death which many citizens would go watch for entertainment. When the game was over, the winners would be rewarded with headdresses and other gifts and the losers were executed (rather gruesomely).
Another game likening itself to football appeared in China, circa 476-221 B.C.E. Back then, they called the sport Cuju (translated to ‘Kicking the ball with the foot’). The game was set in a rectangular field in which two teams would try to score points by kicking a ball in a cloth tied to two poles. As time went by, the game migrated to Europe during the middle ages, where a game called ‘Mob Football’ rose to popularity during the 14th century. That game was played with no rules except that no one is allowed to kill anyone. This form of football deeply rooted itself into English culture as well as the other forms of the sport that was played by the rest of Europe. Today, this sport is played as both an indoor and outdoor activity and can be played at a national or on an international scale. Comically, there’s a debate on why some people (like Americans) call football soccer and why Europeans (like those from England) call soccer, football. It’s even funnier to see where these names come from and why they’re called that in the first place. Firstly, ‘soccer’ was actually a name coined by the British elites who played it as a sport and it is, technically, the proper name for the game. Back then, people used to add an and er to the end of sports names to use it as a slang term (like how Rugby was called ‘Rugger’). Soccer was also a slang term for association, or ‘Assoccer’ which was changed to soccer. The name ‘Football’ was actually made in England, roughly eighteen years after the name soccer was. Just as the name hints, football was called football because of the fact that the game was played by using only the feet and nothing else. Even so, the origins of the names don’t really matter because in actuality, the top ranking team so far actually is Belgium, which is a far cry from the two main countries that this debate involves.