Football (aka soccer) as we know it today came from a set of rules invented primarily in Britain. Various forms of football existed with very different rules that were created within the British “public school” (private school) system. For example, Rugby School in Warwickshire created rules for their version of “football” that would become the foundation for the modern game of Rugby. However, it was Cambridge University who created the rules that were used by the Football Association when it was created in 1867. Cambridge rules were designed to be simple and focus on skill as opposed to force and heavily restricted the use of the hands for controlling ball.
Football is the most popular sport in the entire world. More than 715 million people tuned in to the FIFA World Cup final in 2006 in Germany and there were more than two billion viewers of all the matches in total. If the viewers of the final formed a country, they would be the third most populated country in the world with the total viewers being almost two times the population of China.
Unsurprisingly, football players make a lot of money and are some of the best paid sports-people in the world. Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid FC is the highest paid player in the world, earning £292,000 (after tax) a week. David Beckham is one of the most recognisable football players in the world and has created a brand around him, he currently has a net worth of $350 million. The world’s most expensive player is currently Gareth Bale who Real Madrid FC bought for £85 million in September 2013.
The largest crowd of any football match was between Brazil versus Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. 199,854 people watched the match in the Estádio do Maracanã to see Uruguay win two goals to nil against the host nation. This match shocked Brazil as many of the country’s newspapers had already proclaimed Brazil to be champions before the final.
Sheffield FC is the world’s oldest football club that currently still plays. The club was founded in 1857 after two members of a local cricket club wanted to make their casual football matches more formal. Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest founded the club and they initially used their own rules (Sheffield Rules) until later adopting formal Association Football rules. Both men heavily influenced amendments to the rules of the game and made the game what it is today.
The football club with the most supporters in the world is Manchester United, with 354 million fans worldwide; the club has been very successful winning the English Premier League 13 times. The next two most supported teams are Barcelona and Real Madrid from Spain. Both teams are fierce rivals and matches played between these two sides are called “El Clásico” with Barcelona currently winning 108 matches to Real Madrid’s 96. The biggest win was by Real Madrid who beat Barcelona 11-1 in a “Copa del Rey” match in 1943.
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