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Even though soccer is played by millions around the globe, people do not talk about its history very often. Because of that, I am going to introduce you to the history of one of the greatest sports in the world.

Modern soccer was established in England in 1863, when the British founded the Football Association. However, versions of soccer have been played for more than 2,000 years. The ancient Greeks played a ball game call episkyros, which consisted of kicking and throwing a soccer ball on a drawn field. The Romans played a variation of episkyros, called harpastum. Even though this game had rules, they were not very clear. Kemari was introduced to Japan in the 7th century. All a person had to do was keep a buckskin ball in the air with only their feet.

During the French Middle Ages, a game called soule was played. It was a combination of soccer and rugby, and was very a savage sport where almost any hit was allowed. The objective was to put a ball in the opponent’s cage. In the late 1400s, Italy invented calcio fiorentino. It was only played in between Epiphany and Lent, and only by the rich. Even popes played it in Vatican City in the 16th and 17th centuries. The objective of the game was to carry a round ball into the opponent’s net. Most of the matches were stopped because of a burst ball or a serious injury.

Similar to calcio fiorentino, soccer was played mostly by the rich in the 19th century, but because of urbanization and industrialization, soccer gained popularity with the workers. One of the reasons that soccer gained popularity was that people had Saturdays off, and they didn’t want to do their traditional hobbies anymore, such as badger-baiting. After gaining popularity in England, immigrants started bringing soccer wherever they moved, for example, the United States and continental Europe.

As soccer has changed throughout the years, so has the ball. In the Medieval era, the ball was usually an inflated animal bladder surrounded by leather so it would keep its shape. In 1855, a man named Charles Goodyear designed the first soccer ball; it was made out of vulcanized rubber. Because of this, it was hard and spherical. Then in 1862, H.J. Lindon made one of the first inflated rubber bladders for balls. In 1872, the English Football Association changed the rules and made it so that the ball was spherical and had a circumference of 27-28 inches. In 1937, the weight was changed from 13-15 ounces to 14-16 ounces. In the last 30 years, the major difference that has changed the soccer ball is what it is made out of and the panels that make it up.

Nowadays, the soccer ball is made up of synthetic leather and has 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons to make a round shape. Today, however old you are determines the size of the soccer ball you use. There are 4 sizes; 1 (mini), 3, 4, and 5. For example, my team, LSC Villa U12 uses a size 4 ball, but when I started playing soccer, I used a size 3 ball. And next year, I will use a size 5 ball.

In addition to the game and the ball changing overtime, so did the rules. There were no strict rules for playing, until in 1848 when a meeting was held in Cambridge. Before that, if a school team played at another school, the rules could be different. It is interesting that even though the meetings decided that soccer should be a sport played with the feet, some schools still had rules were you could run with the ball in your hands. Because of these rules, soccer became a more civilized sport. Some of the rules include that if you caught a ball, you were awarded a free kick, and if the ball went over a sideline, the player that got the ball first threw the throw-in. No referees were used until 1871 because it was a so-called gentleman’s sport. The captains of each team were the closest there was to a referee; since the captains sometimes disagreed, referees were added so the game would be fair. Eventually, goalkeeper started to become a distinct position, and in 1909, a rule was made that the goalkeeper had to wear a different colored shirt. Then in 1912, a rule came out that only the goalkeeper could touch the ball inside their 18-yard box. Over the years, there have been lots of new rules added to the game, including extra time, penalties, and offside.

Over time, soccer has changed greatly. A sport that started out with almost no rules is now an Olympic sport. As soccer has evolved, the rules have become stricter and the ball more regulated. It is interesting that soccer has changed as the world has changed. In the beginning, there were only rich people playing it and now a lot of people play soccer.

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