The earliest accounts of a game that resembled modern-day soccer can be found, where else, in ancient China. Historians have found evidence dating from 2500 BC that a game known as "tsu chu" was played during the celebration of the emperor's birthday, and it involved kicking animal-skin balls through a hole in a net erected on tall poles. Of course, most of us think of soccer as an Old World game common amongst the Brits, and true to form, they were hooligans as far back as 1100 AD. There are accounts of the game being played in England for hundreds of years, but by the twelfth century, it had devolved into a mob riot played without any rules. Since the kings weren't too keen on losing their soldiers and tax-paying citizens to these early versions of a Sex Pistols' concert, the game was banned repeatedly by royal decree.

But an early version of the game was popular even over here; Native Americans played a game called "pasuckuakohowog," meaning "they gather to play ball with the foot," long before the Italian forward, Columbus, was substituted into the continent in 1492. These games involved as many as 1000 players and were often played on beaches half a mile wide with goals a mile apart.

The first attempt at formal rules for soccer were published in the 1500s by an Italian, Giovanni Bardi, who referred to the game as "calcio" (in fact, that's what soccer is still called in Italy). Almost three centuries later, in 1877, the football associations of Great Britain assembled to draw up a uniform code. Back then the British Empire was more than just a pathetic memory, so the game and its rules were exported widely across the world, which is why it is so universal today. Since the creation of those nineteenth century rules, the game has remained largely unchanged, though the international governing body, FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), does modify the rules from time to time.

For a quick laugh, check out this article at about The World Cup.

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