According to the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of association football, more than 240 million people around the globe play soccer. Football, or known as soccer in the US, has a vividly fascinating history. The earliest records of soccer date back to more than 2,000 years in ancient China, Rome, Greece and parts of Central America. But the country that helped the most in the development of this sport is England, where the sport is largely referred to as ‘football’. The English are credited with recording the first ever uniform rules for the sport, including concerns such as fouls, goals and handling of the ball.
Since its birth, soccer has become the most popular sport in the world. Today, people mostly buy soccer tickets for the entire season to ensure that they don’t miss out on any of the action.
The Development of Soccer
As the sport progressed, more rules and regulations were added. For instance, in 1891, the concept of a penalty was introduced. In 1913, FIFA became a member of the International Football Association Board of Great Britain. As more time passed, rules related to fouls were dealt with, through the introduction of red and yellow cards in the 1970 World Cup finals. Recent developments include goal keepers being prohibited from handling deliberate back passes in 1991. Further changes include tackles from behind becoming red-card penalties since 1998.
The History of Soccer in America
It is widely believed that the modern day version of soccer in the US has been brought by Ellis Island, during the 1870s. However, recent research indicates that the sport came into the US in the 1850s through New Orleans. It was via European immigrants arriving into the country and bringing the new sport to American shores.
Sometime around 1860, Soccer began to take hold in the US with the establishment of the first soccer club by Gerrit Smith, the Oneida Football Club. The soccer played up till this point was informal and did not have defined rules. But soon, there were attempts to create a national governing body in the country to help standardize the sport. The American Football Association (AFA) was created in 1884 and sought to standardize the rules for teams in certain areas such as southern New York and northern New Jersey. It wasn’t long before the region began to expand and the same rules were being applied to soccer games across numerous states.
Soccer in the United States and the MLS
In recent years, soccer has caught the imagination of sports fans in the US. The US national team’s performance in the World Cup qualifying rounds and the finals has had both good and bad effects on the sport’s acceptance. The 2002 World Cup was a success for the US as the team reached the quarter finals where they lost to Germany 0-1. The subsequent 2006 World Cup however saw the team give one of its worse performances ever with the US winning none of their fixtures.
With the recent introduction of the MLS (Major League Soccer) in the US in the early 1990s, soccer has started to gain more traction. More stadiums have been built since, meant specifically for soccer. More teams have become a part of the MLS with the current number at 22. Moreover, international soccer stars have also made their way into the MLS. David Beckham, Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Kaka, David Villa and Thierry Henry have all been part of the MLS.
Greatest Soccer Players of all Time
The sport of soccer has seen some truly great players over the years. Pelé (Edson Arantes Do Nascimento) from Brazil managed to score six goals in the 1958 World Cup and helped his country achieve its first title. Similarly, Lev Yashin from Russia was perhaps the best goalkeeper to ever play the game. During his career, Yashin saved more than 150 penalty shots and achieved over 270 clean sheets. Marco Van Basten of Holland won multiple highly prestigious honors in one year alone. Players like Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane, Roberto Baggio are among some of the names that nearly always appear where there is talk of great soccer legends. Recent crop of great players include the likes of Lionel Messi, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Neymar.
Landon Donovan is regarded as the greatest American soccer player. The attacking midfielder and forward from southern California is the all time leader in scoring and assists. He is also the second most capped player for the US.
Due to the rising interest in the sport in the US, soccer tickets are hard to come by. US soccer tickets are available here.