Who Invented Soccer? A Look Back at Soccer’s History and All the Firsts of Soccer

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Players scattered on the stadium during a night game

Ebenezer Cobb Morley. He didn’t actually invent soccer from scratch, but he was the one who influenced soccer into what it is today. He founded Barnes FC, and he helped create the first official rules after becoming the FA’s first secretary in 1863.

I spent the whole day researching where soccer truly originated, even the first known instances of when it was played.

In this post, I’m going to break down when soccer was actually invented and all the major firsts of soccer like “What was the First Soccer Club?”

When Did Soccer Start?

Ancient China

Many people believe that the English were the ones who first played soccer and that they were the ones who invented soccer, but they weren’t.

The earliest form of soccer was actually in ancient China. The game called ‘cuju’ was created and first played in 206 BC. The game gained a following, and people took a strong liking to the sport.

The game lasted until 220 AD and only ended once the Han dynasty ceased. The definition of ‘cuju’ is quite literally ‘kick ball’. Not only this, but one of the biggest rules of ‘cuju’ was to not touch the ball under any circumstances, which relates to modern soccer today.

Ancient Greece

Greece came up with a similar sport to soccer well before China, but the rules stray far from traditional soccer. The Greeks first played the game ‘Episkyros’ around 2000 BC, but the main rule that is nonexistent in this form of the game is the handball rule.

Players could carry the ball whenever they pleased, and another problem with this is that the game was quite violent and there were no foul calls at the time. There were some similarities related to American football due to players being able to touch the ball and the harsh, physical nature of the game.


The modern version of soccer came about in England. The sport began in 1863, with the first game being played that same year. The Football Association (FA) came up with a bunch of rules for this new game, and with time, the rules have been adhered to in today’s game. The official governing body, the FA is still establishing the rules like they did in 1863.

Soccer was played for years prior to 1863 in England, but it was played with barely any rules and on the green fields on school grounds.

When did the First Soccer Game Take Place?

The first official soccer game took place on 19 December, 1863. The match was between two London-based teams, Richmond FC and Barnes FC, and the match finished in a 0-0 draw. The rules set by FA seemed to work, as the rules ensured there was no violence, and the flow of the game seemed to work, keeping many people entertained.

When Did The First International Soccer Game Take Place?

FIFA recognizes the first ever international soccer game taking place between Scotland and England. Soccer was a fairly new sport at the time, and 4,000 people turned up at the cricket grounds at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow, Scotland.

The game was highly anticipated but ended in a draw. It was the first time that the sport of soccer took place on an international stage, but many people were at the edge of their seats and it left a mark on people who embraced the sport and were wanting to see more of it.

When Did the First International Tournament Take Place?

A soccer ball at the back of the net after a player shoots into it

1883. The tournament featured the four countries that make up the United Kingdom. Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England all competed to win the British Home Championship. It remained fairly close between Scotland and England, but ultimately Scotland beat England 1-0 and secured their position as the British Home Champions.

Why do the England Fans say ‘It’s Coming Home’?

It actually originates from a song. The song titled ‘Three Lions’ by English icons David Baddiel, Frank Skinner and The Lightning Seeds had the famous lyrics “It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming, football’s coming home” and English fans loved it.

The song was released a short time before the 1996 UEFA Euro tournament, which was held in England. The song was released in hopes of ending their international trophy drought; their last major international trophy win being in 1966, which saw Geoff Hurst score a perfect hat trick.

England ended up being semi finalists in the 1996 Euro tournament and were knocked out by Germany in a penalty shootout. The song is still influential today for England fans, as they play it before important international games and chant the popular lyrics against rival teams during the game.

What was the First Soccer Club?

The first recorded football club was Sheffield FC. It’s speculated that this club was formed by previous school students who wanted to still play the sport of soccer, so some people think this isn’t the first professional football club. They are a non-league division-one team after all.

Notts County is seen as the first professional soccer team to be formed in 1862. They’re still playing high-competition soccer today and play in the ‘Football League Two’ as of writing this post. They have never touched the Premier League since forming the team, and it looks to stay that way, at least for now.

When was the First FA Competition?

A defender chasing an opposing player trying to score

The first FA competition took place in 1871 and included a total of 12 teams (50 teams were invited). The most well-known team out of the 12 that accepted the invitation to play is Crystal Palace, who currently play in the Premier League.

Palace didn’t reach the final though, but instead Wanderers FC faced the Royal Engineers in the finals. Wanderers won the game 1-0, clinching the first ever FA Challenge Cup.

When was FIFA Founded?

21 May 1904. FIFA broken down means ‘Federation Internationale de Football Association’. The sole purpose of creating this governing body was to oversee international matches. There were several founding associations, all of which were European countries. The list included Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Even though England were the inventors of modern-day soccer, they were, for reasons unknown, left out. It wasn’t long until England got the invite and joined FIFA in 1905. The rest is history.

Future of Soccer

Looking back, soccer has come very far. From having a few hundred people turn up to competitions to now having billions of people tune into one soccer event, it shows how far it has come.

The future of soccer looks bright. The introduction of VAR shows how technology is helping the beautiful game of soccer and how it keeps evolving.

Soccer started in one country, England, and since then it has reached more than 200 countries.

Final Whistle

So who invented soccer? There isn’t an official answer since we cannot find a person who invented soccer itself. The person who developed soccer and implemented some of the official rules was Ebenezer Cobb Morley. 

Soccer has surely had a lot of milestones. England and the FA were able to get a game that only a few hundred people knew about to now billions of people watching and playing the sport.

Did you know that the founder of basketball was a physical education teacher? Check out our post on Who Invented Basketball.

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Hi, This is Daniel's Sports Blog. I have been a Sports Fan for as long as I can remember and have grown up watching all types of sports including Basketball, Soccer, Football, Wrestling (WWE specifically), amongst many more! I have not only been watching sports but I have also been competing in a range of sports and I bring my skills and experiences to writing this blog so I can help other sports fanatics understand and appreciate the art of sports.

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