The origin of football can be found in every corner of geography and history. The Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Toltecs, Native American Indians, Persians, Central Americans, Scottish Clans, Vikings and Assyrians played a ball game long before our era. Later, the Roman harpastum, using a bull's bladder, reached the shores of the Atlantic when the legions conquered Gaul. This game led the way to soule, considered together with the Florentine calcio which emerged during the Renaissance, as the real ancestor of football.
Football and handball games reach back to the first steps of the human race. Over thousands of years, ancient communities introduced rules to their elementary play of kicking and throwing. Games also embellished religious or tribal festivals. The Chinese played "football" games at least 3000 years ago. It is suspected stropgly that the shadowy Celtic nations of Europe and the Vikings had rather nasty football ceremonies. In South and Central America a game called "Tlatchi" once flourished. The Ancient Greeks and the Romans used football games to sharpen warriors for battle. Roman games such as Harpastum or Paganica, which all had elements of kicking or running with the ball, spread Europe-wide with their empire's armies.
Traditional football games played throughout Europe in centuries past are still being staged in modern times, especially in the British Isles. They usually include an element of mob battles and chases over countryside and through water. Undertones of ancient Celtic pagan ceremonies as well as the influence of old Roman Empire army "games" can be recognized. In later years football play was often linked to rural wedding-day celebrations in Western Europe. By 1863 there were three main influences: public schools, universities and the clubs. All were infected with the same enthusiasm, all were aware that this was the beginning of a period of growth and change, and yet so far there was no single generally accepted set of laws as to how the game should be played.
When the London Football Association issued (1863) it's first set of rules, order was brought to the sport. It is important to understand that "football" began to be used specifically to describe Association Football in Europe some time after the Football Association was formed in London in 1863. The Football Association was not set up with the intention of creating a "new" game. The wealthy young Britons who formed the Association had all attended exclusive schools, each fanatically proud of their own traditions and each with their own football rules. Now, the Football Association - with their universally acceptable rules for one game only - came into being to provide a game overseen by gentlemen for young gentlemen. It was some years before the world game of today became faintly recognizable.
The world's first league was formed in April 1888. The driving force was William McGregor, a Scottish shopkeeper, teetotal and deeply religious chairman of the Aston Villa club in Birmingham, which later became the world's first "superdub." The league came just in time for Football, which was struggling to find its true role yet again after the legalization of professional teams in 1885. The forces of amateurism, then represented by the public schools and universities and their powerful position in British society, still saw paid play as an evil.
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