The contemporary history of the world’s most popular game spans more than 100 years ago. It originated in Britain in the 19th century where it was played as a house sport in the villages and since before the medieval ages was known as “folk football” with minimal rules. It was as early as 1843 when an attempt was made to codify and standardize football rules at the University of Cambridge. By 1870 the Football Association banned all handling of the ball except by the goal keeper thus Rugby was kept as a separate sport.


By 1877 all associations present in Britain had agreed to a uniform code and the minimal leisure time that was allowed as a consequence of rapid industrialization and urbanization was spent watching and playing football and all the urban institutions present such as the church, trade unions and schools encouraged by preparing the players and facilitating the audience. It was during this time that professionalism entered football in Britain which soon followed in other parts of Europe and South America.


By the early 20th century, football had spread all across Europe and in 1904 representatives of seven European states founded the Federation International de Football Association.  Up until 1939 Britain influenced the growth of football largely but high-caliber players from America were recruited and in 1950s England lost its first game to United States at the World Cup finals in Brazil and with that its influence.

Despite sometimes fractious international relations, football continued to rise in popularity and made its official Olympic debut at the London Games in 1908. FIFA also grew exponentially especially in the latter half of the 20th century, strengthening its standing as the game’s global authority and regulator of competition. Guinea became the 100th state to have taken membership in FIFA in 1961 and entering the 21st century more than 200 nations were registered FIFA members, which is more than the number of countries that belong to the United Nations. Over the years football has reflected the wider political and cultural changes of time by developing a heightened sense of nationalism and xenophobia.

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