When was soccer invented and its influence in America
A narrative on the invention of soccer and its influence in America.
It’s Throwback Tuesday (a new term I came up with for everyone’s convenience) and today we will take a look at when was soccer invented and how the magnificent sport managed to win over the mighty USA.
First we will address the main question which is: When was soccer invented? Nobody can actually pinpoint the country that discovered the sport as many countries had games involving a ball or something resembling one. The ancient Greeks had a game called Episkyros and the Romans had one called Harpastum but the players in these two games handled the ball and did not usually kick it.
The ancient Chinese game of Cuju(which was invented around 3rd- 2nd century BC) was one of the first games where the participants actually kicked the ball into a net and disallowed the use of hands. Soccer’s official governing body FIFA credits Cuju with being one of the first forms of soccer. Cuju inspired other ball kicking games like Kemari and Woggabaliri which were invented by Japan and Australia respectively.
A large number of ball games were played in England over the years before association football was introduced by schools in the 19th century, along with a set of rules drawn by Cambridge University, in a bid to keep their youngsters in shape. Soon after soccer was introduced in schools many other people got attracted to the sport and formed their own clubs, one of the first being Sheffield Football Club which was formed by former students in 1857.
The numerous new clubs needed a governing body along with a proper set of rules to abide by which led to the formation of the now famous Football Association(FA) in 1863 which is in charge of all the leagues in England most notably the Premier League, which is widely recognized as the most watched football league in the world.
The football fever quickly found its way to the United States and soon many people fell in love with the sport. Once again nobody truly knows who originally introduced the Americans to soccer. Some say that the game was first played in America by Germans, Scottish and Irish immigrants in New Orleans in the 1850s while others say that some of the many immigrants that entered the States through the famous port of Ellis Island introduced the sport to their adopted land.
Contrary to the popular belief the term “Soccer” was not coined by the Americans but by the English University of Oxford who made up the word as an abbreviation for association. The first soccer club that came up in the States was called Oneida Football Club which was founded on 21st November 1862 by a Boston lad named Gerrit Smith Miller.
The game’s popularity shot up after the Civil War and soon the American Football Association was formed in 1884 who organized the country’s first major competition called the American Cup a year later. The AFA lost a majority on its power in the early 20th Century due to the formation of the United States Football Association on April 5th 1913. The USFA was soon recognized by FIFA and is now the only major governing body for soccer in the United States.
The United Stated first fielded a national soccer team in 1885 and had their first international match that same year against Canada which ended in a 1-0 defeat to the Americans but the match wasn’t officially recognized. The U.S Football team finally played their first official international match on 20th August 1916 against Sweden which ended in a 3-2 victory for U.S.A.
Football began to decline in the United States after the country was hit by the Great Depression and many top clubs folded due to financial difficulties. It would take more than thirty years for soccerl to get attention in the United States once again.
1968 saw the formation of the North American Soccer League(NASL) which brought soccer back in the spotlight once again. Most of the 17 teams comprised of foreign players, who were attracted to USA due to the huge pay packets, which made the League popular and games against foreign teams like Santos and Manchester City helped the sport gain more mileage in the States.
Brazilian legend Pele was largely responsible for the popularity of football in the U.S when he signed for the New York Cosmos 1975. Other world class stars like Franz Beckenbauer, George Best, Eusebio and Giorgio Chinaglia followed Pele into the NASL. Soccer declined once again after the NASL was disbanded in 1985 but became popular once more with the introduction of the MLS in 1993.
1994 was an important year for football in the United States as they hosted the World Cup which saw soccer fans from all over the world arrive in America. Notable footballers like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Robbie Keane also helped popularize football in the United States in the 21st Century.
In spite of such players gracing America’s shores none of them successfully managed to get the country hooked to the sport. One of the main reasons for this is the typical American attitude of not trying their hand at sports which other countries are better at. The United States excel in games like Baseball, American Football and Basketball and are very happy with their stronghold over these sports. Recent stats have shown that two out of three Americans will not watch their country’s performance in this year’s World Cup.
Americans should really change their attitude towards soccer as it is an everyman’s game unlike Basketball where you need height, American football where you need to be extremely buff or Baseball where you can only be successful if you have a good arm. Football can be played by anybody and everybody which is one of the main reasons why the world loves this sport. Hopefully David Beckham, who was hugely popular in States during his time at Los Angeles Galaxy, can make the Americans fall in love with football when he launches his Miami franchise in a few years.
All in all it can be safely said that when was soccer invented isn’t really important but the way it unites people from all walks of life is.