Who invented football? Was it really England?

8 June 2023 6 minutes

It was the evening of Monday 26th October 1863 when the Football Association (The FA) was formally founded by 12 London clubs as they planned to create some rules to the game they all loved. You can read the full story of the FA’s creation and history here, but essentially their were 6 different meetings in 44 days to iron out all the intricate details. There were no discussions of VAR, away goals or even substitutions until decades later!

The laws were officially written up, signed off and published in a booklet on the 8th December 1863. 11 days later the first game that would be officiated with these rules, it saw Barnes vs Richmond hold each other to a 0-0 draw.

Ebenezer Morley was the gentleman who wrote up the rules and is, by the FA’s own admission the ‘father of football’. When they were originally published their were only 12 clubs who played by these rules, but even then they were sometimes ignored. However, over the next 8 years the FA grew to 50 clubs who all agreed to comply with the ruling. The game at this point was getting more media coverage and attention from around the country and even into Scotland.

Its all well and good having these rules but what did they do before they were created in 1863? Well some sources suggest that the concept of a game based on kicking a football was created in China, Japan, Korea & Vietnam as early as the forth century. The game was called ‘Cuju’ which loosely translates to ‘kick the ball with the foot’.

While it wasn’t a recognised game in England that early it had been played for many years before the rules were officially declared. Each team/region had their own variations of the rules and they just got on and played the game. I can only equate it to when you were younger everyone would have played ‘tag’, but no matter if you went half way up the country or went to your friends a few streets along the rules seemed to always change. Sometimes you could ‘timeout’ to keep yourself safe, other times you would gang-up until there was only one person left while in other places it was a constant cycle of only one person being tagged.

So to sumarise, yes, football was ‘officially’ founded in the UK.

1. When was football founded and by who who?

Football, as we know it today, was founded in the mid-19th century in England. While it is challenging to attribute the creation of football to a single individual, it was the collective efforts of various schools and communities that contributed to its development. The establishment of standardized rules and the formation of the Football Association (FA) in 1863 marked significant milestones in the early history of football.

2.How did football originate?

The origins of football can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese, who played games involving kicking a ball. However, the modern version of football took shape in medieval England. It was during this period that different forms of football-like games were played in villages and schools, each with its own set of rules. Over time, these variations merged, leading to the creation of standardized rules and the foundation of modern football.

3.Was there a single person who founded football?

Football’s development cannot be attributed to a single individual. Instead, it was a collective effort involving various communities and institutions. However, several influential figures played significant roles in shaping the sport. Notable individuals include Ebenezer Cobb Morley, who drafted the original Laws of the Game, and Charles William Alcock, a driving force behind the formation of the FA Cup. These pioneers and many others contributed to the establishment and popularization of football.

4.Are there any controversies surrounding the founding of football?

While the overall consensus acknowledges the collective nature of football’s founding, there are debates and controversies surrounding specific details. Different regions in England claim to have their own version of football with varying rules and traditions, leading to disputes over the exact origin of the sport. Additionally, there have been claims from other countries, such as China and ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, suggesting earlier forms of football-like games. These controversies contribute to ongoing discussions among historians and enthusiasts.

5.How did football spread globally after its founding?

Following its establishment in England, football began to spread globally through various channels. The British Empire played a crucial role in disseminating the sport to its colonies, with British soldiers, traders, and missionaries introducing football to different parts of the world. Additionally, international competitions such as the Olympic Games and the establishment of football associations in other countries further promoted its global growth. The advent of television and the Internet in the 20th century accelerated the popularity of football, making it the world’s most beloved sport today.