Born in 19th century England, soccer has become a popular sport in countries all over the world. However, there are records of soccer-like games dating back to ancient Rome and China. The Chinese played a game called cuju, which involved kicking a leather ball into a piece of cloth. During the Middle Ages, people played a game called mob soccer. This game involved kicking a ball (usually made from an inflated pig bladder) throughout villages to predetermined landmarks. The teams were not limited by numbers and often involved punching, kicking and shouting throughout the game. In medieval France, a game was played known as “La Choule.” This brutal game involved putting a ball into a goal. The only difference was that the ball could be placed in the net using violent techniques. Some records show evidence of sticks or clubs used to hit the ball into the opponent’s goal. The ball, sadly, was not always the target of the blows.
Today, soccer is organized with rules, determined by FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association.) A professional soccer team consists of 11 players, with the typical player running six to ten miles within a 90- minute game. Soccer is considered to be the world’s most popular sport, with more than 3.5 billion fans worldwide. Every four years, fans around the world switch on their televisions to watch one of the most well-known tournaments in the world, aside from the Olympic Games, the FIFA World Cup. The winner of the last World Cup was Spain. The next World Cup will be held in Brazil 2014.