Soccer: the new Religion

Soccer: the World's Game

Today's modern game of soccer originated in Great Britain. Football, as the British came to know it, developed in the small rural villages as a game played by the "mob." There were no uniform rules, and it was played involving both kicking and handling in a very simple way. As the British society grew from an agricultural community into a more industrial one starting in the 1750s, football was then adapted for the narrower streets of urban life. With new roads, matches could then be played between different communities. However, an official set of rules did not develop until much later.

The first rules for the game were listed in 1848. These were called the "Cambridge Rules." As the name suggests, the rules were drawn up in Cambridge, England by a group of representatives from different schools. The meeting took place at Trinity College. In 1863, the first
official rules for soccer (football) were documented with the help of the newly formed Football Association (FA). This time the meeting took place in London's Freemason's Tavern on October 26, 1863. In the process of finalizing the rules, a strong disagreement ensued in which certain clubs removed themselves from the FA. The issue occurred over the removal of two rules. First, running with the ball was outlawed. Individuals had to maintain the ball on the ground. There would be no exceptions to this rule. Secondly, obstructing such a run would no longer be accepted. Before this established rule, the game permitted individuals to kick and trip opposing players. This angered many team clubs. In particular, the representative from the Blackheath club was noted for saying that abolition of these rules would threaten the "manliness" of football and make the sport more of a sissy game, suited for the French. The clubs that left would ultimately form their own association, the Rugby Football Union in 1871 (Murray 3-4)

From these humble beginnings, soccer eventually grew from a local sport into a national sensation. Starting in the 1870s, soccer became popular for people outside of the school/club setting. New wealth and an increase of players from the working-class elevated soccer to new heights. With this growing popularity, soccer was soon exported to neighbors Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. the Scottish were particularly essential to the development of the sport. They introduced the idea of purposeful and methodical passing to the game. Before their contribution, the game was widely about attacking an rushing to the net. There was a lack of serious strategy behind the game. However, the Scottish emphasized that the game should be much more than just that. It had to evolve into more of a team sport. Players had to be more spread out and assume set positions on the field. This greatly increased the game and accelerated its international interest. Eventually, the game of soccer would grab the international community's attention and imagination. Soccer became the new world sport, and England, through its distant international Empire, served as the undeniable vehicle for worldly transportation. Soccer had arrived!

                                                                                                The LAWS OF THE GAME 
(The rules of soccer were first drawn up in 1863. There have been some alterations but the very general guidelines still reflect how soccer is played today. Every summer, the rules are revised by the current governing body of the International Football Association Board (IFAB). To see the official current rules of soccer in detail,
click here.)

The following are the
general rules for the sport in 1863( as stated, a couple still apply):
  • The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards (180 m), the maximum breadth shall be 100 yards (91 m), the length and breadth shall be marked off with flags; and the goal shall be defined by two upright posts, eight yards (7 m) apart, without any tape or bar across them.
  • A toss for goals shall take place, and the game shall be commenced by a place kick from the center of the ground by the side losing the toss for goals; the other side shall not approach within 10 yards (9.1 m) of the ball until it is kicked off.
  • After a goal is won, the losing side shall be entitled to kick off, and the two sides shall change goals after each goal is won.
  • A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal-posts or over the space between the goal-posts (at whatever height), not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.
  • When the ball is in touch, the first player who touches it shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground in a direction at right angles with the boundary line, and the ball shall not be in play until it has touched the ground.
  • When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent's goal line is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until he is in play; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked off from behind the goal line.
  • In case the ball goes behind the goal line, if a player on the side to whom the goal belongs first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick from the goal line at the point opposite the place where the ball shall be touched. If a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick at the goal only from a point 15 yards (14 m) outside the goal line, opposite the place where the ball is touched, the opposing side standing within their goal line until he has had his kick.
  • If a player makes a fair catch, he shall be entitled to a free kick, providing he claims it by making a mark with his heel at once; and in order to take such kick he may go back as far as he pleases, and no player on the opposite side shall advance beyond his mark until he has kicked.
  • No player shall run with the ball.
  • Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary.
  • A player shall not be allowed to throw the ball or pass it to another with his hands.
  • No player shall be allowed to take the ball from the ground with his hands under any pretence whatever while it is in play.
  • No player shall be allowed to wear projecting nails, or iron plates on the soles or heels of his boots.