All You Will Ever Need To Know About Soccer

About the Book


Awards, Promotions & Film

Soccer's Story: The Beautiful Game

As you noticed from the questions you answered in the ‘Pop Quiz,’ this section will not focus on marquee players, their teams, international competitions, and statistical analysis. If you are looking for that type of information, a handful of encyclopedic volumes are listed in the bibliography. The history that follows is an easy-to-read ‘snapshot’ over 2500 years of time illustrating how games played by kicking a ball evolved into what many have described as “The World’s Pastime.”

There is one overriding reason why soccer is so pop- ular around the globe and that is, not surprisingly, its age! Take a look at the other team sports played with a ball…American-style football, Australian Rules football, Canadian football. Then consider baseball, basketball, cricket, field hockey, hurling, lacrosse, team handball, volleyball, water polo…and you’ll be hard pressed to find one that is more than two centuries old. If the world’s games were viewed as a nation, soccer would be the most senior of its citizens. Venerability definitely has its advantages.

This section begins with an examination of the world-wide antecedents of soccer so that you can truly appreciate the amazing evolution of this game of skill now known as “The Beautiful Game.”


Historically, it appears, the first game that contained some of the elements that are present in today’s sport was initially played around 500 BC. The Aztecs called it Tlachtli. Olli was their word for the ball they used which was made of solid rubber. Like modern soccer, the players could not use their hands to advance the ball, although they could use their feet, heads, elbows, legs and hips. The game was meaningful on many levels: on a spiritual plane, the priests had the sunken walled courts built adjacent to their temples, perhaps to encourage attendance at religious ceremonies following the game. They also felt that the movement of the ball was a predictor of the future movement of the sun. On the secular side of Aztec life, gambling on the game’s outcome was not only prevalent, but also encouraged by their tribe’s titular leaders.
While interim points were scored against the team that let the ball touch either the ground or a prohibited part of the body, the ultimate outcome was decided by which team was the first to legally put the ball through the goal they were attacking. The goals were stone rings, 30 centimeters wide, one at each end of the court, mounted 10 feet off of the ground. . . . .

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