People have been kicking a ball for a very long time. Soccer, or also known as football, can trace its origins back to the 1800s with the creation of the Football Association in England. However, versions of the sport existed prior to this. Some of those sports were more like rugby than soccer. However, since soccer evolved from a version that was a blend of soccer and football, we decided to include them.
Here’s is a list of sports that have been recognized to be ancient “cousins” of the sport of soccer.
The first sport we’re highlighting existed over 2000 years ago! Cuju was a sport that was popularized in Ancient China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and was played for almost 1500 years. The sport was played by Chinese elites as well as the military to maintain fitness. Like soccer, players could use any part of their body to control a ball except their hands (sounds familiar?).
Originating in the 600s AD, this ancient Japanese sport where players would stand in a circle and try to keep a ball up in the air. Players could not use their hands or arms and would pass the ball to each other. The sport is still played today in Shinto Shrines during festivals.
More similar to modern-day rugby than soccer, this sport first started in Ancient Greece (Episkyors) and continued during Ancient Roman times (Harpastum). The game involved two teams trying to get the ball to a designated area that was defended by the opposing team. The ball was passed between teammates and did allow the use of hands. This sport was very physical and violent.
Another sport that was more rugby that was more rugby than soccer is Calico Fiorentino. This sport can be traced back to the late 1400s and is thought to have started in Florence, Italy. Two opposing teams try to put a ball in the other team’s goal by kicking or throwing. However, this sport is very violent and involves a lot of fighting as a way tactic to wear down the opposing team.
In the 1800s forms of football were played amongst schools in England. In an effort to bring rules and structure to the sport the Cambridge Rules were created. In 1863, the Football Association was created in England to further create rules and structure of the sport. Based on the rules created by the FA, this led to hand use being outlawed and saw some clubs withdraw from the Association to create Rugby Union Football. In 1888, the first soccer modern-day league was formed.
Calico Fiorentino (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcio_Fiorentino)