England: The Home of Football

With more than 250 million players all over the world, football owns the right of being the most popular sport. The game consists of 2 teams with 11 players each, both aiming to score by kicking a spherical ball into the opponent’s goal. Only the goalkeeper can hold the ball with his hands, while all other players can only use their feet, knees, shoulders, or head. Whoever scores the most goals, wins the game.

Actually, the game is more formally called association football to differentiate it from other forms of games that involves kicking a ball to score a goal. However, it is more popularly known as football or soccer. The modern rules of association football originated in England in 1863 and have since evolved to the exciting game, which to this day, draws thousands of people to fill a stadium and keeps other fans glued on their television screens for hours.

History of England Football

The oldest written record that has shown reference to football was scribbled by William Fitz Stephen in 1170. It described how the male youths gathered to the field after dinner and enjoyed a game of ball. It went on to say how the elders also flocked to the field to watch the game, clearly stirred with excitement of cheering on and viewing such unrestrained youth.

Despite its early popularity, football faced objections from the monarchy and from the Church. The monarch opposed the game due to military reasons; saying that the youth should focus more on learning archery, which at the time has aided them the most in winning wars and invasions. Bans were made against the sport, which included imprisonment and fines as penalties. The Church, on the other hand, called football an “evil game” because, aside from being played on a Sunday, it caused injury, envy, hatred, and sometimes, death. In 1576, hundreds of men showed their distaste on these bans by gathering together to play the game. Oliver Cromwell eventually succeeded to stop the game in 1649, but the game took a new life when Cromwell died on the latter part of the 17th century.

It was not until the 18th century when this game, played in the fields and streets, found their way into public schools. Some school officials have seen its benefits in the body’s well-being and started having the game in their schools. However, each school followed different rules making it impossible for them to compete with each other. So in 1848, teachers from these schools met to come up with the Cambridge Rules. Each school followed these rules of the game, and helped spread it by playing with the boys in the streets. These public school boys continued playing in their university years, and even after graduation to eventually form their own clubs.

Since then the rules of the game were changed several times until the formation of the Football Association.

The Football Association (http://www.thefa.com/about-football-association/history)

Formed in 1863, the Football Association is England football’s governing body whose objective was to establish a unifying code of rules to regulate the game. The new rules were non-violent which raised a lot of argument from those who believed that hacking should be part of the game. Today, all of England’s professional football teams are members of the Football Association. It has definitely come a long way since its inception more than a century ago, making it the oldest football association in the world.

The Leagues

The English football league is like a pyramid, where leagues are divided based on their ranks or levels. These leagues are governed by the promotion and relegation principle, meaning, a member of the higher-ranking division may be relegated to the lower division, or vice versa, depending on how they have performed on the previous season. The top three English football leagues are:
Premier League (http://www.premierleague.com/en-gb.html) – consists of 20 teams, which includes Chelsea, Manchester City, Everton, and Liverpool.
Football League Championship (http://www.football-league.co.uk/page/ChampionshipIndex/0,,10794,00.html) – consists of 24 teams, some are: Blackpool, Barnsley, Bristol City, and Leeds United.
Football League One (http://www.football-league.co.uk/page/League1Index/0,,10794,00.html) – also has 24 teams, which includes Carlisle United, Leyton Orient, Portsmouth, and Walsall.

When it comes to football, England has the oldest governing body and the oldest national league. It has 40,000 football clubs, way surpassing any other country. The rich history it has on football and the work it has done to keep the game’s popularity aptly makes England the home of football.