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Who Invented Soccer? From Ancient Civilizations to Modern Scholarships

Updated: Apr 12

As a dedicated soccer athlete with dreams of securing a college scholarship, the importance of education and sports in your life cannot be understated. In this article, we will dive into the fascinating history of soccer, tracing its roots back to ancient civilizations and leading up to the opportunities for student-athletes to play soccer at the college level today.

Ancient History – Origins of the Modern Game

The origins of soccer, known as “football” in most parts of the world, can be traced back thousands of years. Various ancient civilizations played similar ball games, often with differing rules and objectives. Let’s explore some of these early versions of the sport:

Claims - Who Invented Soccer?

Ancient China

One of the earliest mentions of a game resembling soccer dates back to ancient China, around the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. Players used a leather ball filled with feathers and tried to kick it into a net. While the game in China was rudimentary, it’s intriguing to see the early roots of the sport.

Greece and Rome

In ancient Greece and Rome, a game known as “harpaston” was popular. It involved using both hands and feet to control and pass the ball. Although it had elements of soccer, it was not the sport we recognize today.

Parts of Central America

In pre-Columbian Central America, a game called “pitz” was played by the Mayans and Aztecs. It involved kicking a ball through a stone ring, making it one of the closest precursors to modern soccer.


Moving closer to the modern game, Scotland played a sport called “ba game” in the 17th century. The objective was to get a ball into a designated goal area, and it often resulted in chaotic, large-scale games in the streets.

England in the Middle Ages

Medieval England introduced a variety of football-like games, each with its own set of rules, and played predominantly on feast days. These games often led to chaos and violence and were eventually regulated.

Development of Soccer in 19th Century England

The 19th century marked a significant period in soccer’s evolution, bringing standardization and organization to the game.

The Cambridge Rules – 1848

In 1848, students at the University of Cambridge developed a set of rules for soccer, which emphasized kicking the ball with the feet and not using hands. These rules laid the groundwork for the modern game.

The Sheffield Rules – 1858

The Sheffield Football Club in England introduced its own set of rules in 1858, emphasizing dribbling the ball and refining the rules introduced at Cambridge.

The Football Association was Formed – 1863

In 1863, the Football Association (FA) was established in England. The FA unified various regional rules and created a standardized set of regulations for soccer. This was a pivotal moment in the sport’s history, as it laid the foundation for the game we know today.

Globalization of Soccer

Soccer rapidly spread across the globe, captivating the hearts of millions. Today, it’s the most popular sport worldwide. With the rise of professional soccer leagues, international tournaments, and a global fan base, the sport has become a powerful unifying force.

How Student Athletes Can Play Soccer at the College Level

Now that we’ve explored the rich history of soccer, let’s discuss how you, as a soccer athlete, can leverage your skills to earn a college scholarship. Many colleges and universities offer soccer scholarships to talented players. These scholarships provide opportunities to pursue higher education while continuing to excel in your favorite sport.

Take the First Step Towards Your Soccer Scholarship Today

At Athlete Plus, we’re here to support you in your journey towards a soccer scholarship. Whether you need guidance on the recruitment process or academic support, we’re here to help.

Don’t let your dreams of playing college soccer fade away. Seize the opportunity, follow your passion, and combine your love for soccer with higher education. Let’s make your college soccer dreams come true. Your scholarship awaits!

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