Sunday, April 20, 2008

The great FIFA lie: that the Chinese invented soccer (football)

(Note: After reading this you may like to read The history of expansion of football codes)

Quote: FIFA says its historians have proof that the game -- then called cuju or "kickball" -- originated in China some 2,000 years ago. It was even played for emperors.

Read FIFA's story here and here. This particular story apparently says that it is an "historical fact" that the Chinese invented the game of soccer.

Whooah, what a lie from the apparent victors in world football at this point in history. We all know that the winners like to rewrite history, but the Chinese did not invent soccer. This is a gross lie by FIFA designed to give them market presence in China, so that they can continue their cultural and economic conquest of the world.

Many, many ancient societies have their own versions of ball games and football games. It is important to examine the historical facts, Read my previous post on the development of football codes to understand the accurate historical story.

Some tribes in the Americas had a game where two opposing tribes played in a very large area with a ball. The object of the game was to make the opponent drop the ball on the ground. The captain of the losing team would have his heart cut out. This was a kind of "friendly" war to minimise the number of deaths.


Australian Aboriginal peoples in the South East of Australia played a game called Marn Grook, which was a football game played with a possum skin. The game of Marn Grook is most likely a lot older than the Chinese game of Cuju.


In south east Asia in the countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Philippines and Indonesia, a game called Sepak takraw is played, it is a game descended from Cuju, but it is not soccer.

The Mesoamericans had their own ballgame, using rubber balls.


The Choctaw people in North America has a stick ball game with sometimes as few as 20 players but also up to 300 players. Although they used sticks, the object was to score a goal, much like mob football.

There is also the Roman game of Harpastum, which was related to the Greek game of Paganica. Harpastum apparently was similar in appearance to Rugby.

It is true that the Chinese game of Cuju, did sometimes involve kicking the ball "through an opening, measuring only 30-40cm in width, into a small net fixed onto long bamboo canes". But other variations of the game also involved kicking the ball at a post in the middle of the field.

Proto forms of football and other various ball games existed in many parts of the ancient world. As inventions go, humans often independently come up other with similar ideas in completely isolated locations. The Chinese did not invent Soccer (football) anymore than the Greeks invented running.

The true ancestor of Soccer is actually the old English game of Mob Football, Mob football had very few rules. As a result, by the time of the 19th century there were very many variations of the rules of football. Football was played by boys in public schools across southern England. Each of the schools had separate rules. This did not matter when they only played amongst themselves. It only became an issue when the various schools wanted to play against each other. They were then forced to agree on a set of rules before a game began. Two of the most famous schools to come up with their own sets of rules were Rugby and Eton. The game of Rugby is essentially descended from the Rugby School and the game of Soccer from the Eton School. Nevertheless there was a period of 40 years when various schools played against each other that the rules of football were up for debate. These 40 years were the smelting fire that turned mob football into the two games of Rugby and Soccer, with the final split happening on December 8th, 1863.

It is very clear that Soccer was invented by the English and is a game descended from English mob football. While many ancient games may bear resemblance to modern forms of football, this does not mean that they are the "invention" of modern forms of football. The Chinese invented their own game 2000 years ago, that while it has some very vague similarities to modern Soccer, had no influence on the invention of the game what so ever. FIFA have simply tried to rewrite history for their own purposes.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

so who really inveneted soccer?????

Pasha said...

I thought I was very clear about this over the last three posts. The game of soccer evolved from mob football, with its initial beginnings at the Eton School 40km outside of London. It was invented by a collection of boys schools in England who went on to continue to play the game after school as adults. These adults formed football clubs when they finished school. These schools formed the Football Association in 1863. The rules of soccer were solidified as Association Football in 1863 at meetings by the Football Association.

Gabriel said...

the 2 links from fifa hailing china as birthplace is correct by their definition for following reasons:

the chinese had rules of no using arms, and there were 2 goal points.

that makes them truly the first inventer of soccer-like sport

all other "earlier ball playing" civilization don't count cause they either had no documented rules, or like you stated "used sticks" or didn't have goals, etc.

anyways, you are an idiot.

Pasha said...

Gabriel, I urge you to read the history of football codes during England in the 1800s and the subsequent spread of these codes around the world.

If you haven't read this history, which clearly you haven't, it's hardly good academic form on your part to call me an idiot simply because you disagree with me. Have some spirit old chap.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese culture is known for being soaked with lies so that should give you your answer.

Marcus said...

Excellent analysis with references on the history of soccer related sports (as simple as kicking/holding a ball). I agree that it is absurd to "credit" the Chinese with "inventing" association football (as we know it). Association football, as we play it, is definitely invented by the English. Your analogy with crediting the Greeks with inventing running is hilarious.

Just because a "historical" document dug up happens to describe a "sport" that shows much resemblance to (English) soccer, doesn't make it a direct link to then credit that source for invention!

This announcement by FIFA, recently echoed by FIFA during the awardance of the 2018 & 2022 World Cups, is nothing but a self-serving mechanism to rally the 1.35 BILLION Chinese to get them into soccer ($$$/power). Such lies.


On a personal experience note, on vacation one time I visited the ancient port of Rome, Ostia Antica, and walked on the floor of an ancient recreational building with floor mosaics depicting men boxing, throwing javelin, wrestling, & other easily recognizable sports. I couldn't believe my eyes when I rested upon the mosaic of a ball that looked EXACTLY like the classic soccer ball full of black pentagons. Not joking.

Anonymous said...

Marcus, Rome came almost a thousand years after Ancient China was founded.

Also, the founding of an association does not mean the founding of a sport.

Unknown said...

Wow, we're going to debate the timings of foundings of ethnicities/cultures now?! How about I go back to Ancient Troy then?? What came before what, which is highly debatable (or not at all), is irrelevant to the invention of today's football game that is less than a few centuries old. There is no direct link to European Football and Chinese "ball kicking" nor Roman Harpastum, period.

Anonymous said...

China had a game that bares the closest resemblance to soccer.. fine.. isn't that cool??
There may or may not be any link, could be just people thinking the same ideas at different time periods/eras..
But in the eyes of FIFA, making the game to have an origin of ancient 200 BC makes the game look more 'outstanding'..

Hu JunYi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hu JunYi said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road
"Silk Road gets its name from the lucrative trade of Chinese silk which was carried out along its length, and began during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD)."
"Soon after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, regular communications and trade between China, Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa and Europe blossomed on an unprecedented scale"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuju
"During the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), the popularity of cuju spread from the army to the royal courts and upper classes.[6] It is said that the Han emperor Wu Di enjoyed the sport. At the same time, cuju games were standardized and rules were established. Cuju matches were often held inside the imperial palace"
the timing is right, so there is a possibility that cuju was introduced to Europe via Silk Road

Anonymous said...

You neglected to quote the opening paragraph of the Cuju page on Wikipedia that states the historical speculation by FIFA and no direct historical connection exists.

Caucasian Writing said...

Hi,
I find your post bias.

Evolution ought to take place over time. The Chinese, the Romans, the Egyptians, the English etc, they all contributed to what we call soccer today. The ball(Greece), the no-hands rule(China)...etc.

Anonymous said...

And the battle between heartstrings & warm fuzzy feelings for all versus physical evidence with rational supportive documentation rages on…

All in all, football is just another one of those “European things” that the entire world enjoys.

Anonymous said...

The Brit stole tea cultivation from China. So they stole the idea of soccer and named it their own is no surprise to anyone

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