The history of football in the UK
In the UK, football is not just a national sport, but something bigger. It has so deeply integrated into the everyday life of the British that it turned into an important part of their culture.
Great Britain is called the homeland of football. This is a controversial issue: football was based on ball games that were common in different countries. Such games existed in Ancient China, Sparta, and Rome.
But undoubtedly, Great Britain is the birthplace of modern football – a game that is familiar to the whole civilised world and considered the most popular in many countries. British people created the uniform rules of football, formed the Football Association, and laid the tradition of tournaments. And it was only thanks to the British that this game became so widespread all over the world. But first things first.
The British have been playing with the ball since the Middle Ages. People gathered in the streets, city squares, and wastelands and organised tournaments. Games often developed into fights and battles. Church representatives, merchants, feudal lords, and authorities were against this tradition. In the XIV century, the English king Edward III banned the game using the term ‘football’ for the first time ever, which then spread throughout the world. Football was not forgotten. People continued to play it secretly, but only at the beginning of the XVII century, the British authorities lifted the ban on football.
At first, football was considered a plebeian game, unworthy of aristocrats. But gradually, it penetrated into the higher layers of society. In the XIX century, football was already widespread among the aristocracy. It was mainly played by the students of the universities: competitions were held between colleges. Soon enough, football became as popular as cricket, which was the most common team game in Victorian England.
Each British college had its own game rules. It got ridiculous: in some teams, the number of players was limited, while others recruited everyone. In 1846, the British tried to create uniform rules for football. Cambridge football players arranged a meeting with other schools, and after 8 hours of negotiations adopted the so-called “Cambridge Rules.” Later on, the rules of the Football Association of England were created on the basis of this document.
In 1857, the first Sheffield football club appeared in the English city of Sheffield. This is the oldest club in the world. A few years later, the club issued a brochure with the detailed rules of the game, which resembled the modern ones, but with one important exception – the ball could still be held in hands. This date can be considered the birthday of modern football.
In 1863, the world’s oldest football association was founded in England. Its participants discussed and supplemented the rules: the parameters of the playing field, the definition of an offside position, the admissibility of various techniques – hooks, steps, and grabs. At the first meeting, the majority voted against running with the ball in their hands: finally, this ban appeared in the football rules.
Modern British football
Today, football is the most popular sport in the UK that has long overtaken cricket. 40.000 football clubs are registered only in England: this is more than in any other country in the world (and there are still Scotland, Wales and Ireland, where this sport is just as popular).
English Premier League is considered the most popular in the world. English football clubs Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are some of the world’s most successful clubs. Great Britain is the only state represented by four national teams instead of one: English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish. The country got this right as the ancestor of football.
National teams of England and Scotland are the world’s oldest football teams. The first international match was played between them. Some Brits believe that the four teams should unite in one UK team in order to compete more successfully in the international tournaments.
Unlike Latin American players, British footballers aren’t prone to provocations and simulations on the field. They consider football as gentlemen’s game where cheating is considered ugly. English fans quickly lose respect for the players who create such incidents.
The British are closely associated with football gambling. Bookmakers exist mainly due to football betting and Nonton movie. Each match is accompanied by bets – in no other country is this tradition so widespread. Many English fans are used to making money on games.
The UK has a tradition of holding football matches the day after Christmas – Boxing Day game. For the British, this is the most popular match of the year and gathers the largest number of fans in the stands (regardless of the opposition team involved).