Soccer's international governing body FIFA, was formed in 1904 with the objective of organizing championship matches between professional teams of different nations. Professionalism arrived in continental Europe in the 1920s and in South America less than a decade later. By 1930 the interest in soccer was high enough to ensure the success of the first World Cup, even though only 13 countries entered.
Soccer has traditionally been a male sport, but the last decade has proved otherwise. The first Women's World Cup was played in China in 1991 and saw the USA take home it's first ever world championship. The game was seen and warmly greeted by the Chinese but it was not until 1999 that women's soccer would become a part of pop culture. The 1999 Women's World Cup was hosted by the USA. The opening ceremonies in New York Giant's Stadium broke the attendance record for a women's sporting event with 78,972 spectators. Little did anyone know how much the USA and the world would embrace this tournament, but they did. Over 658,000 people came out to see the 1999 Women's World Cup. The electrifying final saw the USA beat China in penalty kicks in front of 90,185 screaming fans, shattering the record set only 3 weeks earlier for a women's sporting event. This tournament no doubt brought women's soccer and sport into mainstream society with the creation and acceptance of feminine heroes that everyone would come to love. This tournament was a turning-point in human history and culture and in time we will come to see that because this was not the first and will not be the last time that football affects world society. The 2001 launching of the world's best women's professional league in the USA will be another milestone in the very bright future of women's soccer.
The game of football began modestly enough, yet it had certain durable qualities. It inspired a particular kind of determined devotion in its followers. There is not the slightest doubt about the universal nature of football: 203 national associations are members of FIFA (International Federation of Football Association), that is more than the number of countries belonging to the United Nations, and 250 million men and women play football throughout the world. And this figure only takes into account registered football players, in other words those with permits to play in competitions. Hundreds of thousands of others, big or small, young or old, with no distinction of class or race, divide themselves into two teams with the sole aim of having fun by sending the ball into the opposite side's goal.
The new and future game of football is very different from it's humble and violent beginnings but more and more fans from all over the world come to love this sport every day. Though the true origins of football seem to be heavily disputed from cultures all over the world, there is no doubt that today "the beautiful game" is home to all nations. Football, as the embodiment of a need to communicate and to share, is one of the greatest concepts of humanity.